I had a conversation with a young man last week who talked about elevating his life. It’s not an easy thing to do when obstacles stand in your way including your past, family, education, lack of money and bad choices.
I’ve been there before, when I moved to Toronto I was a single mother on welfare. My family was not always supportive and at times they reminded me of my failures and limitations.
What truly made a difference was something I heard at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting I attended with my brother…Act as If – Be the person you dream of being even if you are not that person yet.
I implemented this in my first real job in Toronto, I dressed like I had money although most of my clothes came from discount stores including Goodwill. I talked like my bosses, listening to the way they would speak and when I heard a word I didn’t know I went to the dictionary looked it up and used it to improve my vocabulary.
Little by little I pushed myself away from the poverty line. At times when I didn’t even have bus fare to get to work I would walk there, when food was scarce I was lucky to have friends like Mary the hot dog lady or I headed to the food bank. I kept this part of my life secret and pushed through past the rough spots. I was amazed years later how moulding myself to act as if had turned into “I am”.
Recently when I was speaking to this young man who has been in jail, lost all his belongings and family support I gave him the same advice, seek someone who inspires you and mimic their appearance, speech and lifestyle and the next thing you know you will be that person.
I felt like a single mother on welfare for a long time and now I am thankful for that experience, it made me stronger and I appreciate everything I have. I never want to forget how hard I’ve worked to be where I am today.
My advice to anyone trying to change their lives is don’t look at someone with envy or jealousy for what they have, see them as a canvass for the painting you are inspired to create….you.
In other words fake it till you make it – We are not all blessed to start life with a silver spoon but we can all get there with commitment and faith in yourself. You are the person who defines yourself not your job, friends, family or society, they are not responsible for who you are.
My dad once said “who are you?” I said “I’m Gail” he said “No you are “Gail Young and you are one of a kind”. Use your name to draw strength it is the one thing that is yours.
When I look back and see where I was; beaten down by life with nothing but my name….I didn’t settle for falling through the cracks I chose to make it no matter what.