Building a brighter future doesn’t mean one has to attain a certain level of monetary gain or credentials. There’s no precise way to measure the amount of success one must achieve in order to determine how bright their future will be. More so, it's about building a future and lifestyle that consists of stability, financial security, a healthy and safe environment (for oneself and family), self-fulfillment and gratification, etc.
One person’s aspirations may differ from another. Often times, a person’s upbringing (good or bad) can influence how bright their future turns out to be. Hardships and adversity can fuel a person’s ambition to create a better life for themselves and their loved ones. Growing up in an environment where family members have paved the way for you to be successful by demonstrating what success looks like through strong work ethic can also have an influence on how bright of a future one may have. It often starts with the parents. They set the precedence of building a brighter future by their hard work and dedication. This can have a significant impact on their children’s future because they may aspire to become successful like their parents.
My previous blogs within this series (Don’t Give UP, Don’t Beat Yourself Up, If You Believe It You Can Achieve It) talks about ways to get there. They’re filled with information and tools that will help you along the way of building a brighter future.
Listed below are some additional tips that can assist you along your way:
There’s not just one specific way as to what a brighter future looks like or consists of. This may vary for different people based on several factors (i.e. upbringing, beliefs, aspirations and ambition, circumstances, etc.). What’s most important is that one puts forth their very best effort in being the best that they can be. If they do that, then naturally, their future will be as bright as a shining star.
You hold the key to your future.
These three words “don’t give up” can sound like a cliché to many. They are so commonly used (in just about every situation and/or hardship) that for some people, they may not hold as much weight anymore, causing them to lose sight of the amount of power these words together can hold. These same weary people may feel like taking the easy way out or quitting is more convincing than the words themselves. I’ve been one of those weary people before that lost sight of the true meaning in these three words. I am guilty of letting certain circumstances and hardships discourage me and doubt the power these words hold.
I’ve learned that giving up can only make matters worse. In addition to losing what may have been a great opportunity, the psychological pressure and guilt, alone, that one may experience from giving up, can make the situation or circumstances tougher to bear than if they were to stay the course and see things through. Typically, the best things in life (i.e. accomplishments, achievements, victories, etc.) don’t come easy. They all require sacrifice, perseverance, endurance, resilience, and a can-do-it attitude.
Many may have grown accustom to giving up when situations or circumstances gets tougher. Depending on how one may have been brought up, some may be conditioned to not pushing themselves beyond their limits because of systemic behavior that can be the result of what they were exposed to. This can also be attributed to a societal or environmental epidemic within certain communities where resources and opportunities are scarce.
These three words (don’t give up) may sound easier than it truly is, but it is factual that not giving up and choosing to keep going and seeing things through to the end is far more rewarding and self-gratifying than giving up.
Before choosing to give up, consider some of the things below:
Here are some things to help you along your way:
When things go wrong and you make a mistake or poor choice, don’t beat yourself up (see last week’s blog on this topic). These things are inevitable and happens to the best of us. Overcoming and learning from our poor choices, mistakes, and failures is what makes us stronger and wiser, so welcome these opportunities and turn these negatives into positives. Once you do, you will recognize and appreciate the power of these words.
I am convinced (and a believer) that God does not make mistakes. I DO believe that He would not give us more than we can bear.
Don’t give up!
The beauty about striving for greatness is that we get a chance to experience an incredible journey during the process. It may be hard to believe, but every experience (good and bad) is what makes us so great. The ability to be resilient and overcome obstacles is a powerful characteristic to have because life will come with several challenges and obstacles and only the great can succeed in overcoming them. Regardless of how bad the experience may be or however much it may set you back or cost you, it had to occur because it was part of the journey. These unfavorable experiences and setbacks are sometimes needed in order for us to grow. It sucks going through them and it may be hard to see the positive side while going through it, but these experiences are truly part of what makes us so great.
No one is perfect. Mistakes, failure, and poor decision making will happen along the way of you working towards your goals. Use these opportunities as a learning experience, regardless of how painful. Our shortcomings are stepping stones for a better landing.
I used to think that failure, mistakes, poor decision making, etc. were all detrimental to me achieving my goals. I used to think that if I was anything less than perfect, my chances of achieving my goals or reaching my destiny would no longer be possible or that they would be tarnished. Whenever I made a bad decision or mistake, I would beat myself up about it. I was so hard on myself that I wasn’t taking into consideration that I’m only human and that these types of experiences are a part of life. These are the things that makes us relatable and gives others hope. They’re also the very thing that sets us apart from others because we chose not to allow these experiences or circumstances to defeat us, but instead, we chose to persevere. For some, it takes getting it wrong before finally getting it right. I was not exempt from this and the moment I realized this, the sooner I was able to get back on the right track.
What’s great about achieving a goal or reaching a certain milestone is the strength you gain along the way. Facing challenges and being able to overcome them while on your journey is a testament to one’s ability to weather any storm. Every time you are able to get up from being knocked down adds strength, wisdom, and courage to who you are. The beauty in this is not allowing our failures to define our future.
If we didn’t face challenges along the way or if everything came easy, then we wouldn’t have a testimony. And, we most likely wouldn’t have the same level of appreciation and gratitude if we didn’t struggle or fall down while going through any process to achieve better. These experiences are what makes us appreciate our accomplishments even more, and to want to strive even harder to sustain them.
Keep moving! Staying in the same place will get you nowhere. Take it one day at a time and don’t look at your circumstance as a mountain in front of you. One breath, one situation, one day…you can do it!
You are not the only one to get it wrong. Don’t be so hard on yourself. You have the power to get back on track.
As you transition into a new year, your journey on a path toward prosperity, growth, resiliency, and hope shall remain. Entering into a new year is yet another milestone that you have reached along the way. A new year brings about new opportunities to reflect on your progress from the previous year and identify areas of opportunities to make some improvements and/or take things to the next level.
The “If You Believe It, You Can Achieve It” blog series focuses on select topics written in my books that have stemmed from my personal life experiences.
Growing up, I didn’t have many advantages for building a brighter future. In fact, I had more disadvantages because of the environment that I lived. The conditions in which I lived made it very difficult to see a better life for myself because I was surrounded by so many people living the same. For most, this was their normal. The only hope I had of me having a brighter future was to not rely on what was in front of me or that surrounded me daily, but to believe in what I couldn’t see, touch, or feel. In order for me to accomplish this, I had to have faith. As long as I had these two things (belief and faith), I knew that I could achieve it.
Building a better future isn’t easy and I knew this when it was just a mere thought. I knew early on that sacrifices were going to have to be made along the way. I also knew that I could not conform to the lifestyle of those living amongst me or else it could lead me down a path of darkness instead of brightness. This meant I had to work really hard at making wise choices and prevent doing things that would negatively impact my future. This also meant carefully choosing the people I befriended or surrounded myself with.
By far, this has been the longest journey I’ve ever been on - building a brighter future. Times have been challenging more often than not. I’ve made some poor choices and mistakes along the way. Some of those things even set me back and knocked me down at times. It often feels like I’ll never get there or that I’m not worthy enough… I’ve easily gotten weary at times when things became tougher. There were plenty of times where I just felt like giving up because I didn’t feel like I had it in me to keep going or because I couldn’t see the finish line, especially during my toughest days.
Eventually, I would figure out that I couldn’t allow my brief moments of weakness or discouragement to last for too long or else these feelings could hinder me from continuing. I had to be resilient in overcoming these moments, so that I could continue my journey on my path to building a brighter future. All off the poor choices, failures, and mistakes I’ve made along the way ended up serving as the best tools and lessons that helped me reach each milestone and every accomplishment I’ve ever achieved. It all started from me believing that I could have better, and from having faith that I would succeed. Having this mindset is what kept me going when times were tough. If I can do it, so can you! Have faith in yourself! Take this new year by storm and make every moment count to the best of your ability.
I was reluctant to write my autobiography because it would expose the dark times in my life. Although some things were out of my control and there wasn’t much I could do to prevent them from happening, I was afraid of being judged or singled out more than I already had been. Often times, people who have not had to live such life or experience similar circumstances may have a hard time understanding, resulting in them being quick to judge.
In order for me to overcome that fear, so that I could write my book, I had to get to a place where I realized that was not my issue, but instead, it was theirs. One of the biggest disservices to oneself is judging before seeking understanding. This commonly made mistake can cause one to lose out by underestimating the other person, not realizing that the very same thing that they are judging them on is what makes that person even greater. Because of this, I am no longer ashamed of my past. It is the reason I am where I am today – in a far better place than I was back then or even yesterday.
The possibility of being able to console or help others living in circumstances like mine overshadowed my reluctance, fear, and anxiety.
My intent in sharing my experiences isn’t to hurt or defame anyone, but simply to provide relief to myself for the things I’ve harbored for years.
Words were my release and the #form in which my healing took shape was this book!
I hope that my words will reach those who feel helpless and defeated, at times.
To survive and conquer such unfathomable circumstances is a tremendous feat; but to arrive in a place of understanding and live a life of purpose…that’s freedom!
My life is a project that continues to evolve. I can’t quite say that I am a finished product, but I can say that I’ve been in production mode for quite some time. I’m far from being in a sustained mode or having things all figured out, but the deliverance of each milestone makes me even stronger for the one that comes next.
In my blog titled, Life In Its Rawest Form, I gave the definition of #raw – “These experiences were raw in the fact that they were in the barest, most explicit form. Nothing was there to sugar coat them or protect me from the brutal reality or its true ugliness.”
As a young girl, I felt compelled to write about events taking place in my life. I didn’t understand why these things were happening to me. I had no one to confide in, so writing them down became a form of therapy, as I attempted to make sense of what was happening to me and around me. Even though these events were raw and uncut, writing helped me to see a way out. By writing things down, I was seeing things in a different light. I was able to reflect more on things that had occurred, and create a plan for a better outcome. As I reflected, I understood better that I was not immoral due to the impure events that were taking place.
As I grew older, I had a choice on whether I would continue to perpetuate those raw and uncut experiences or put an end to them and create well defined, purposeful ones; I chose the latter. Although I’m no finished product, I’m not in the same place as when I started.
What happens to you does not define you!
Flip your RAW circumstances and you will win the WAR!
I titled this book Life in Its Rawest Form because that’s the life I was dealt. Raw, uncut, unpolished, and peeled to the core. I don’t claim this was either good or bad, but how I played my cards is, perhaps, the more important story.
Nothing came easy and everything was a struggle…
I used to think the saying, “Everything happens for a reason,” was just a cliché and had no substance. I no longer think this way. I believe the saying now, because I’ve learned that life has its own agenda and that people aren’t given the option to choose whether to be a part of it or not. My agenda of endless turmoil spanned 35-plus years before I learned this important fact. Although my agenda was no different from others’, but, somehow, it made me different from others I knew.
I’ve stated in past blogs that there are millions of people who faced similar oppression and adversity as I did growing up. What makes me different from some of those people is that I chose to use my experiences as lessons.
Poverty is one of the main root causes for the oppression and adversity I experienced in my upbringing. It lead to many poor choices made by my parents and most people in the community in which we lived. Poverty influenced a lot of unhealthy behavior that my siblings and I were a direct impact of. Even though their impoverished thinking and behavior inflicted so much pain, struggle, and harm upon us, I had to numb myself to these circumstances and use them as a way out – out of this vicious cycle that keeps getting passed down from generation to generation.
My #Life story consists of an agenda with a purpose. I share the brutal reality of what life was for me as a child, youth, and young adult so that I can be the narrator of how my story ends.
What can you do today to change your narrative? Life will continue to come at you. Learn to face it head on and make the most of it!
For some of us, life is a breeze. For others, it’s a constant storm - like being born with bad karma, where rough times are their unfortunate reality. I know these wounded people… I was one of them. Often discouraged from hoping for a better life. I didn’t ask to be born into such harsh conditions, and I could not understand why I was chosen to endure them.
The meaning behind the title, “Life In Its Rawest Form”, came from my experience growing up under circumstances that were raw and uncut. These experiences were raw in the fact that they were in the barest, most explicit form. Nothing was there to sugar coat them or protect me from the brutal reality or its true ugliness.
My purpose in writing this book is that I know there are others who may have lived a life in its rawest form, that may not have ended in triumph. My hope is that through my books; through the voice behind the pain, tragedy, and victory, something will give others, who may be living through similar circumstances, hope and inspiration that will help them prevail and triumph!
In addition to those facing similar circumstances, I pray that my book will give insight to family service professionals, therapists, educators, and others on how their help and support can make a positive difference in the lives of children and families facing adversity.
Reading can change lives. People helping people change lives. #LifeInItsRawestForm
As a teen, eventually, I got enough courage to accept that I am different because I chose different options. I tried not to take certain situations for granted because I realize one bad choice could lead me down the same path as everyone else.
I always told my peers that they, too, could change their lives for the better, just by pushing themselves a little harder. Nothing I did was impossible or something that they couldn’t do. They just had to want it.
I couldn’t’ allow myself to be concerned with the choices others made or didn’t make. Although I wanted better for my peers, I couldn’t lose focus on the things I needed to do for the betterment of myself. I would help them along the way as much as I could, but they had to put in the work for themselves. If they chose not to, that was their choice and not mine.
My choice to get off the Merry Go Round (See the Hood Habits entry of my blog for additional context) landed me in the position I am in today. I used previous challenges and examples from others as a way for me decide what choices to make and what choices not to make. I realized that in order to be successful and to create a brighter future for myself, I had to put in the work. No one else could do it for me.
I hope to encourage young women and men to make wise choices and take control of their lives. My life is a testimony and I am grateful to be able to share it.
See the speaking page of the website to book your speaking engagement.
As a #teen, eventually, I got enough #courage to #accept that I was #different. I no longer allowed my #peers #negativity take a hold of me. My life is a #livingtestimony and I am #grateful to share it. I’m available for #speaking engagements this #summer and eager to #influence some of our #young people. Visit the Speaking page of www.qianahicks.com to learn more. #LifeinitsRawestForm #Speaker #Author #Overcomer #Faith
Daring to be different can be viewed in many different ways. Some may choose to be different for all of the wrong reasons, and others may choose to be different to improve their quality of life. In the context of breaking the cycle and not conforming, being different is viewed in one way – the better way.
Choosing to be different will require you to be confident and unapologetic. You have to be 100% certain and comfortable with your decision to be different, otherwise, you may get deterred and end up conforming, just like everyone else. There will be consequences (good and bad) that comes along with choosing to be different. Some of the things you should expect on your journey to be different are: envy from others – even from those closest to you, being singled out, becoming a target of unpleasant treatment, or feeling like you don’t belong - which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Developing confidence and an open mind to overcome the adversity you will face might pave the way for others. There are people, probably more than you may know, who also wants to be different by choosing a better path, but lacks the courage to do so. Your courageousness and unapologetic qualities may just be what it takes to give them that.
When you choose to be different to better your life, and the lives of others, you should also prepare for the positive that comes along with. Contrary to the not so good consequences, striving for better will naturally render positive results. Your quality of life will improve by the choices you make, your behavior, the people you choose to associate with, and your overall mindset. All of which are benefits of daring to be different.
Never feel guilty about your choice to break the cycle by choosing a different, better path. This should never discourage you from doing what is right for you or a loved one.
We’re ultimately responsible for taking control of our own destiny and not allowing ourselves to be influenced by our surroundings. Being different is actually a form of obligation; obligation to yourself that if you know better, you should do better!
We may not be able to control others’ actions, but we can control how we let their actions affect our lives. I was driven to seek a better education and better options for myself, and others treated me differently. With more education, I saw things in a new light, and I made smarter choices. There were people I grew up with or who lived in the same community as me who perceived it as if I thought I was better than them. I was told that I think I’m “white” or that I act “white”, just because my vocabulary or pronunciation was different than the majority of those from my neighborhood. I didn’t think I was better than anyone else, I was simply being me, and making the best of the opportunities available to me.
Dare to be different and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! This is your life to live and you can’t go through it worrying about what other people think of you. Love yourself first and the rest will follow…
Daring to be different will not only change your life, but it can also change the lives of a community.