How will you deal with your circumstances as of today?
“Keep knocking even if the door is closed.” The first time I heard that phrase I didn’t believe it made any sense, but I still knocked periodically. I was reluctant because I was thinking that my knocking was going to be in vain. Why? It was because of the lack and limitation that filled my mind which made it hard at times for the little encouragement that I got to come in and take root. God knows I wanted faith, hope and belief to take root. It was hard!
Lack of belief in oneself can blind one from seeing the possibilities, and the truth about it all, it blocked my mind.
Would it block your mind if you had nothing to eat? Would it block yours if you didn’t have adequate bedding to sleep on? Would it block yours when you see your mom washing other people’s clothes with her bare hands? Would it block yours if you had to accompany your parents to do some of their domestic work? Would it block yours when the teachers who are supposed to be teaching and inspiring you were instead telling you that you are not going to amount to anything?
I use to complain a lot (to myself mostly) because I was frustrated that I was unable to find a way out. Wouldn’t you, if you’re your basic needs weren’t met? I was frustrated. You may ask why. I was still a child yet I still couldn’t understand why I didn’t have certain things while my friends living a few blocks from me did. Very often I would ask God why and sometimes all I could do was cry. No, I didn’t cry for others to see. I was too embarrassed about my situation; why I was sleeping on clothes and didn’t have anything to eat. It was a secret because it was only known to my family.
I would never invite my friends into my home. I would always have an excuse, wouldn’t you? We didn’t have electricity. We didn’t have a tv for them to watch and worst of all nothing to offer them to eat.
I even found myself leaving when they were about to eat because I knew that my mom and my sisters weren’t going to have anything to eat. It sounds crazy but in my mind it wasn’t okay. I prefer to eat oranges together. We would take oranges from our neighbor’s trees.
With all the lack, I still could feel…
Something was still burning inside with all that lack. I couldn’t describe it, but I always said to my mom that I was going to change things. Mom would respond: “How are you going to do that?” I couldn’t answer because it was still hard to believe that I could change things. But I wanted to. So, I stuck to what I was good at… running! I developed the discipline from my natural abilities thanks to Kevin Webb, a friend of mine that I truly admired. He always won races prior to me going to high school. I decided to follow suit and every morning, well almost every morning, Kevin would be at my gate ready to run between five and ten miles before school. Prior to high school running and playing were the only things I did well. I was the king at playing and it helped distract me from my current situation and also helped me to forget that I had nothing to eat.
Then, I was even more distracted in class. Being poor, I believe, is a distraction in itself. I made it to high school and still lacked belief in myself. I learned quickly how to avoid embarrassment. It would be lunch time and I would not have any money. Well, that wasn’t every day but the days I didn’t I would follow my friends halfway to school and turn back pretending that I left my money in my bag pack at home. Well, I pulled that one off. That day I didn’t eat which reflected in my lack of focus, but you couldn’t tell because I was looking at my teachers…but my mind was elsewhere.
Although I was blind to what was possible in life my motivation to have a better life was influenced seeing my mom crying sometimes because of how hard the work was and at times she even finished the work and still didn’t get paid. That was even harder to bear. I was upset with just about everything.
I couldn’t see where it was possible for me to have a better life. The inspired feeling was still there, but believing was hard. Why? I was going home to an empty plate. I know that my parents were doing all they could with what they had and when I saw my dad with a bag of food that he got from his farm I was so excited. Yes, food got me excited because we knew that we were going to have something to eat for a least a week. Even with that I constantly got lost in daydreaming because it was wishful thinking.
You see, I wanted a change, but it took all my high school years and although I was skilled in track and field nothing became available even though I gave running all I could. To me, running was my way out. It was graduation, no subjects, no opportunity arising from my athletic prowess. I was disappointed and even more frustrated. What next?
I was thinking about selling drugs. That wasn’t a part of my character because I didn’t even smoke. I had no money and it was an option. My friend and I were going to go into business together. We wanted a change. Something about the idea wasn’t right, I could feel it. So, I threw away what I thought then was my only option and immediately I discovered another option. I received an opportunity of a lifetime. I got a chance to go to the Youth Services Camp. The sad part of the whole thing was that I couldn’t afford to go. I had to muster the courage and ask for help from a community member. I was so ready for the opportunity and I saw that enrolling in the program was a way out.
Youth Services was the beginning of my upward mobility and I was ready to climb. I had some of the most necessary tools in my kit which were developed from being an athlete and, yes, I was ready to take on whatever opportunity came my way. Well, I thought I was ready but I still believed I was average and only got average grades throughout college. Oh, I didn’t tell you. I went to college on grace although my athletic ability helped.
I thought things were going to get easier. I didn’t get a job and the search started all over again. One great thing came as a result; well, my friends thought I was crazy when I gave them the news. Someone in my community saw me and asked me why I hadn’t become a police officer. I hadn’t, but I acted on what he said the next day. I barely passed the exam yet I was on my way to training school! Is it possible to go beyond limitations? If you are as determined as me, you’ll realize that there are indeed possibilities.
My daily meals improved and I didn’t have to go without. The Jamaica Constabulary Force changed my life drastically and it also helped me to grow up. It was one of the best things that happened to me and my parents who blindsided my friends who didn’t like the idea. My parents appreciated that I was able to provide them with some money. Mom and dad also counseled me every chance they got to be careful. I didn’t know the police force was my ticket to a long-desired opportunity I wanted since I was in high school. I came to the Unites States to represent the police force as an athlete, did extremely well and was offered a scholarship. It was an opportunity too great to pass up! I accepted this honor although it wasn’t a full scholarship. Was I the best athlete? Not really, more determined I would say. However, I was the one who wanted it most. I embraced a deep desire to succeed.
Remember, earlier I mentioned that I went to college in Jamaica and it wasn’t because I was the smartest but because I wanted the opportunity more than my other contemporaries. I wanted a WAY OUT. I wanted to help my parents to have a better life and to achieve a better life for myself.
My journey had changed many times but this time after six years of toiling in order to get the scholarship to the United States, it was time to ask myself some questions. I didn’t know exactly what to ask, but I came to ask myself how much I wanted out of life?
For me, it was a new environment and a new mindset. I wasn’t scared but still fearful because I wanted to make the best of the opportunity. In fact, I told the coach after he told me I was too old for the scholarship that “If you want to know what someone does with an opportunity, give it to me” and he changed his mind and gave me the scholarship! I was twenty-four years old at the time. I was ready for a breakthrough and this scholarship was it. I have to tell you, I ran my fastest time at the track meet in Miami representing the police force in the pouring rain. I won in fine style even beating the other officers who beat me to the finish line in Jamaica!
I was in the United States and away from what I was accustomed to. I started to have flashbacks about days of hardship in my life as though I was supposed to do something about my past. I couldn’t share the thoughts so I started to write them down, and it was writing that freed my soul. I penned my first book, ‘The Experiences Through The Human Eyes’.
Months later, I graduated with a BS in Criminal Justice. A year later I completed my Masters Degree in Sociology. Then it was a roller coaster but I didn’t let go. Giving up is not a part of my personal makeup! I did odd jobs but empowering youth to be all that they could be was my new passion, especially when I reflected on my own life and saw how far I had come.
Do I know anything about going beyond limitations? Certainly, because I was bound by limitations for a long time and I didn’t even believe in myself much less the possibility of acquiring a better life. Can you go beyond limitations? Certainly you can! It all begins with you believing.
I know people are experiencing challenges and I especially don’t want our young people, who may be going through challenges, to give up on what is possible for them. Today I am dedicating myself to empower, encourage and inspire youth to realize that their dreams are possible.
My story, your story, begins with our belief in ‘going beyond limitations.’
A little about myself
Richard A. Cross is a professor, (not a word) a mentor of inspired discovery for life solutions, an empowerment speaker and coach, and the founder of ‘Energize Your Thoughts’. But he didn’t start out looking quite so successful. As a young man, he had very little, sleeping on old clothes instead of a mattress, and he was often told he wouldn’t amount to anything. He soon proved the critics wrong, however, growing up to become an athlete, a police officer, and a restorative justice facilitator before transitioning into teaching young people how to overcome adversity in order to achieve what they once deemed impossible. His story is all about overcoming adversity and going beyond our limitations.
Why Do I Encourage Others? Because I Know What It Is Like To Be Frustrated And At One Point I Did Not Believe In The Possibilities!
IT IS POSSIBLE TO GO BEYOND LIMITATIONS. IT MAY NOT BE EASY, BUT IT IS POSSIBLE.
Thank you for your support!
THE BEST IS STILL WITHIN YOU!