No, You Can't
I have to thank my high school track coach. I wanted to try the pole vault. I was a sprinter, but thought flinging my body high up into the air and over a bar would be super fun. He told me that I couldn’t. When pressed, he said it was because girls don’t have enough muscles in their chests to maneuver the technique. I believed him and gave up, discouraged. Fast forward and I’m watching a track meet on television. There is a girl’s pole vaulting event and I’m shocked. It took me a minute to figure out that what my coach said had not been accurate. I don’t believe he lied. I do believe that at the time, it was a common belief. Until a female pushed the issue. Why do I thank my coach? Because it taught me that from now on, I wouldn’t give anyone the ability to tell me what I could or couldn’t do. It gave me more confidence to pursue whatever I wanted to pursue. Win or lose, I would be the one in charge of my life.
I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview Olympic Decathlon Gold Medalist Rafer Johnson. In preparation for the interview, I read his autobiography, The Best That I Can Be. His story is filled with reasons why he couldn’t: His father whipped him, the sole of his foot had been sliced off, bad weather, high altitude, racial intolerance, bad back, sickness, witnessing a good friend’s assassination. Rafer had a million excuses why he shouldn’t be successful. And yet, to this day he has dreamed big and achieved big. Taking the worse experiences one can imagine and using them to strengthen his inner core. He never let anyone tell him he couldn’t do something. No one would get in his way, even his internal voice.
Back to my interview with him. After reading his book, I felt like that little blue circle on your computer screen when it goes round and round because it’s processing too much at one time. I had 30 minutes to an hour and I couldn't decide where I wanted to take the story. I wanted to honor a great man, but I especially wanted to tell people, through his story, how powerful it is to live by his motto. I pray that I have been The Best Writer That I Can Be in order to inspire my readers to emulate his philosophy and be The Best That They Can Be.
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Thoughts that are alien to any of my other projects can be found here.