When I made the decision to get clean and sober, I found out six months later that I was HIV+. I made another decision as soon as I found out that I was not going to allow HIV to become an excuse to use nor an excuse to not live up to my potential. At that time, I had such a negative outlook on myself. I struggled taking risks to better myself and to live up to my full potential out of fear that I was incapable. Fear of failure, fear of the unknown future, fear of rejection, fear of getting sick, fear of things not working out and fear of embarrassing myself controlled me and told me what to do. I listened to those fears. It was all realistic and made sense to me. What I believed about myself was my greatest hindrance. I can remember going years without trying to accomplish things because of my own negative perception.
What we believe about ourselves is so powerful. I had an excuse for "not trying" that justified my inaction to do anything else other than what I was presently doing. I mastered the art of talking myself out of moving forward. I could stay clean and sober. I could work a regular job. I could be involved to some extent at my local church, but that was all that I could see myself doing. These were great steps considering how I lived in my active addiction but it definitely was where I stopped and chose not to progress.
These fears still pop up for me but I have gotten a little better as each year goes by at refocusing on the truth versus the fears that try to stop me. I have to refocus or they will take over. I also have wonderful mentors, family members and friends in my world who help me refocus when it gets overwhelming. I am presently practicing on mastering the art of talking myself into things and not out of things that I need to do. It took many years before my self-esteem was built up enough to where I could take greater risks to do greater things.
When my perception of myself was healed, I was amazed at what God put in me that I was capable of accomplishing. I began building my life which took courage of accepting that even if my fears came true, it was ok because it’s about the journey of discovering yourself and discovering the different roles you can play to take part in influencing others to fulfill their potential in their journey. I have written two books. I have traveled and had amazing speaking engagements that I have had the opportunity to be a part of. I have helped others in their journey of recovery from their addiction. I have worked jobs that I never thought I could do. I am presently in college pursuing a degree. I refuse to be an idle observer. I refuse to let my imperfections stop me. Some things I have attempted worked out and some things I have attempted did not work out. And... Guess What?? That Is OK!!!!!!! However, I do not believe in living in regret. I want to lay my head down on my pillow at night knowing I tried and gave it my best shot. If I refused to try, then I would always wonder what could have been.
I say all this to say this: Please don't let life pass you by because of your imperfections, fears or HIV. Live life to the fullest. Do what you can. You may shock yourself with what you are capable of. Surround yourself with other leaders who can invest in you and who believe in you and who are unafraid of telling you the truth when that truth can push you to the next level. It’s not about being the best or trying to find something wrong with the best. It's not about everything working out the way we want. It's about playing a small positive part in this great, big world to make it better by being the best that you can be. It’s undoing the unhealthy thinking patterns and unhealthy self-perception that stop you from "doing." It’s leaving a legacy of love and being known for it. Everything else is just beautiful blessings along the way. Its building your life....... Continuously.... Constantly....... Building.