As someone who has had to overcome major challenges, I am often drawn to stories about individuals who overcome obstacles to achieve their dreams. However, two recent stories really caught my attention partly because they were positive stories about black youths for a change, but mainly because of the lessons that can be learned from reading the stories.
I recently read two separates stories about two recent graduates Fred Dukes and Eboni Boykins. Both stories are about young people who overcame homelessness to achieve academic honors and college scholarships. Both stories are about two people who chose success over sympathy, and used their obstacles as stepping stones to greater opportunities. Both stories are about two remarkable young people who, when faced with a major challenges, resolved never to quit.
Like Fred and Eboni, each of us will experience some form of adversity in our life. However, what is evident from their stories is that it’s not the situations we find ourselves in that matter, it’s how we choose to respond to them. Fred and Eboni stories show us that getting use to adversity is different than overcoming it and it is in how we react to adversity that determines whether it becomes permanent obstacles or temporary setbacks.
What Fred and Eboni stories affirmed for me was that adversity can be a form of inspiration and motivation. Pursuing our hopes and dreams in the midst of adversity allows us to achieve more than we ever imagined. We reap a double reward when we do not allow our fear of failure to become greater than our desire for success. There is an overwhelming since of accomplishment when we don’t quit in spite of all that surrounds us.
Fred and Eboni were homeless, but they were not hopeless. They both did what most successful people have done in the face of adversity; they never lost sight of their goals. We all can learn from Fred and Eboni when facing challenges and setbacks. The lessons these young people’s stories teach us is simple—your adversity should refine you not define you. In other words, we should never become our problems.
I don’t believe Fred or Eboni knew each other; yet their stories shared a common theme which is shared by so many others who dared to overcome obstacles to pursue opportunities- They wouldn’t allow a temporary situation to determine their final destiny. Each had set their goals on something greater than the challenge they were facing. They saw their impoverished living conditions as symptoms of a condition they were empowered to change.
Moving from obstacles to opportunity is difficult, and facing adversity often challenges our resolve, but it is then that we must reach deeper, work harder, and seek out lifelines—those individual whom we can turn to for strength.
I may never get to meet Fred and Eboni, but I thank them for sharing their story and reaffirming for me that obstacles can truly become opportunities; that there is a difference between being helpless and hopeless; and that getting use to a problem is not the same as overcoming it.
5 Things you can do to overcome adversity:
• Believe in yourself and never define yourself by the problem you may be facing
• Set high goals, and accept responsibility for your role in attaining them
• Do something each day that will bring you closer to overcoming the problem rather than getting use to the suffering the problem brings.
• Surround yourself with positive people who believe in you
• Embrace our obstacles as opportunities to make us better, stronger, and wiser.
© 2012 – 2013, LaVon Stennis Williams. All rights reserved.