Let Fear and Adversity Make You Grow

Over the years I’ve thought a lot about fear and adversity. Some people get scared of adversity and quit before even trying something important to them: this job would be too hard for me, that subject would be too hard to learn, I can’t lift that weight, I can’t run that race. Enough with the self-doubt. Why aren’t you living your life?

How will you know if you don’t try?

Don’t live your life full of regrets; we have a limited amount of time on this earth. Make it count. You have to get fired up.

If I would have let fear and adversity control me I wouldn’t have never accomplished these things:

  • In 2005 during my last quarters of college and deeply in student loan debt I studied and lived abroad in Damascus, Syria for five months before the war started. 
    • I was a International Studies: Middle East and Arabic double major, which I figured out my final year of college.
    • This was a dream and goal. I wanted to learn the culture and language and get real experience.
    • I knew if I didn’t go then, I would never go after college.
    • I literally pulled out a $1 notebook in my shoddy college apartment, wrote down I wanted to study abroad, and started making a plan to do it.
      • From there I resolved to figure out every step in the process to get there requiring hours of hard work and preparation.
    • I didn’t have any help when I got there other than my teacher’s driver to pick me up from an airport and take me to the hotel.
      • I literally walked around a main street in Downtown, where I found a tourism office and got a paper map. 
    • I didn’t have a smart phone or even a cell phone when I got there. I had to find one and get a sim card.
    • I didn’t have anywhere to stay.
      • The hotel was about $34 a night, but I knew I had to find a cheaper place because I was on a tight budget.
    • That forced me to find a youth hostel.
      • I needed a cheaper more permanent living situation, which forced me to find a host family.
      • To do that, I found Amideast a non-profit organization which had an office there at that time.
        • They put me in touch with a family in the Christian old-city of Bab Tuma.
        • The family I lived with was so kind, hospitable, and accomodating.
        • I met another family there nearby who also helped me learn the town, find a gym, and in return I would practice English with them. They were great people.
    • From there I was able to find a school to learn and practice Modern Standard Arabic, which I didn’t do great in at all.
      • I was overwhelmed as I could read and write, but I didn’t know enough words to learn effectively.
      • I learned that the colloquial language was the way to learn Arabic to survive on the streets in the everyday language. In case you are interested, the best resource for this learning approach is Syrian Colloquial Arabic, a Functional Course by Mary Jane Liddicoat.
    • It was pretty scary and not the smartest way to go about it.
    • In hindsight I was impatient and could have taken a quarter off, stopped paying tuition, worked, then went with a group of students.
      • After five years of college, I was pretty much done because I didn’t want to get on the Tommy Boy plan of 7 years of an undegrad degree.
    • I wanted to get this experience in that bad, that I was willing to take the risk.
      • It forced me to get out of my comfort zone, practice my language skills, and survive.
      • I met so many interesting and friendly people along the way which changed my worldview forever.
  • From 2006-2012 I paid off over $65,000 in student loan and personal debt.
    • This debt was for an undergraduate degree and personal credit card, which required tons of sacrifice, humility, commitment, and drive after college.
    • It was pretty crushing and terrifying to see how much I owed at age 23.
    • I could have made better financial decisions.
    • I wasn’t willing to pay this off for the rest of my life and be a slave to the lender.
    • I took responsibility.
    • It was nobody’s fault but my own, the government didn’t need to “forgive” my loans; I needed to forgive myself first, and  realized I needed some real fire to change my life. To start, I:
    • I totaled up my debts
    • I followed a proven financial plan that works. 
    • I found roommates who had a room in apartments and houses for a flat rate with all utilities included, which saved me roughly at least $300-$400 a month or $3,000-$4,000 a year.
    • I drove a faded-red rusting 1993 Toyota Corolla with a “parking brick,” that was paid off shortly after college.
    • I got my car fixed for six years by a great friend who lived an hour a way one way. I would do computer work for him in return for his service. ” It was cheaper than getting a used or new car, more debt, and more financial enslavement time. It required a lot of hard work to drive there usually AFTER work, work on my friends’ computers, and drive home. It was always worth it.
    • I worked part-time jobs like a college tutor and computer technician work like cleaning up and rebuilding computers.
    • I sold whatever stuff I had on craigslist.
    • I didn’t care if people thought I was crazy for how I saved money, drove my “Uncle Buck” like beater of a car, and worked my ass off.
  • I got laid off in 2008 from my first job after college and was still deeply in debt.
  • I read as many books as I could by people like Brian Tracy, Dan Miller, Seth Godin, Steven Covey, and Leo Babtua.
  • I believed in myself and focused on my passion for technology.
    • I didn’t study computer science in college
    • I got my first jobs in the technology sector back in 2008 during the housing recession and economic meltdown in Cleveland, OH. There were barely any jobs in I.T. in Cleveland at that time — it’s a small saturated market and very competitive.
    • I applied to 100 different companies (not all IT related) getting 99 no’s and one yes by a recruiter who saw some potential, hunger, and drive to give me an opportunity to prove myself. At one point I got sick and tired of being sick and tired and had to refocus on IT jobs only; it didn’t make sense to keep applying to random jobs to make money.
  • I discovered I acquired carpal tunnel syndrome in 2011 at the Cleveland Clinic.
    • I wasn’t going to let that stop me from working with computers, writing, or lifting weights – ever.
  • I began strength training by learning the Starting Strength Method by Mark Rippeto.
  • I ran a half-marathon in May 2012 after months of training even though I hated running.
    • I wanted to prove it to myself that I could do it.
  • I woke up in 2012 during the winter time in my “attic dweller” of an apartment, a third floor of an old colonial house in Cleveland, OH, with my left arm completely asleep do to sleeping on my arm and compressing the median nerve, which was pretty scary.
    • It fired me up enough to resolve to move to Austin, TX, where most people haven’t even seen snow or ice, and because the 300+days of sunshine, the climate, the economy, progressiveness, and the food.
  • I moved from Cleveland, OH to Austin, TX back in 2014 after talking about “doing it” for the last three years.
    • I got rid of everything except the essentials that would fit into my new car.
    • My car was literally riding low looking like it was “chopped down.”
  • I drove to Austin, TX 21 hours straight. 
    • I do NOT recommend driving this long.
    • I was so fired up to go that I kept driving, when I should have stopped at least half way to sleep.
    • Your mind starts playing tricks on you around hour 19 or 20, which is probably its way of telling you to take it easy and get some sleep; it needs to rest.
  • I got laid off again in 2015 after six months of a job due to company restructuring.
    • I was unemployed, and got right back to work learning new I.T. skills and reading good self-development books.
    • I decided to build this blog in AWS during that time, started reading books about how to start a blog, and take those baby steps.
  • In 2017 I started writing my first articles.
  • In 2018 I am continuing to write, share my stories, and want to help as many people as I can.

It took 13 years to crawl, claw, and climb out of student and credit card debt and become a home owner. It forced me to improve. I wouldn’t change anything about my experience because all of that work forced me to grow and become the man I am today.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.

  • Believe in yourself.
    • You have to believe in yourself deep down in your heart and mind.
    • You have to believe in yourself when you are getting negative feedback, criticism, or doubt aka “haters.”
      • If you are following a good proven plan, you are on the right track, don’t worry about them because there will always be nay-sayers.
      • Stay the course.
        • You will succeed. Be more patient than you thought possible.
        • Work really really hard.
        • There is no “free lunch.”
    • Believing in yourself is so important.
    • It’s the foundation, the anchor, the building block of your personal confidence.
  • Own it
    • Take 100% ownership for your problems, goals, and challenges.
    • It’s up to you.
  • Get organized.
    • If you want it bad enough you will do whatever it takes to figure out this dream, make it a goal, create a plan, break it down into bite sized chunks, and eat that elephant one bite at a time.
    • Read books by Brian Tracy. The book “Goals” is a great resource. Read other books by successful people, find your favorites.
  • Find your own mantras.
    • Mantras are what you can repeat to yourself when the going gets tough, you’re broke, down, beat-up, and almost down for the count. They will keep you focused and mentally tough.
      • My favorites are:
        • “Focused intensity changes everything, ” by Dave Ramsey.
        • “If you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else,” by Dave Ramsey.
        • “You are the director of your life’s movie.” by Brian Tracy.
        • “Discipline equals freedom,” by Jocko Willink.
  • Seek out the experts if you need to help yourself in your personal life or in your professional life.
    • Books and audio books should be read and listened to whenever you have free time to learn.
    • At work you should find a mentor, don’t expect your company to provide one because many companies won’t or don’t.
    • This will cause you to take the initiative and grow.
    • Your mentors will see your potential, support you, and help you grow.
  • Expect to fail. A lot.
    • You will be challenged.
    • It makes you grow.
    • It makes you tougher, smarter, and wiser.
  • Never stop learning, asking questions, and take hand-written notes (this is something I should have done more of, but it took me years to learn this lesson).
  • Work really really hard.
    • Rinse. Repeat. 
  • Enjoy the process.
    • Yes, when the suck of life is going on, enjoy the journey because this is a marathon not a sprint.
    • Your life will not get better overnight or in a year. It might take 13 years. Hopefully less!
    • Don’t be afraid of hard work; it makes you a badass over time, and you’ll continue to work hard. It becomes part of who you are.
    • You are developing your personal character and grittiness.
    • Learn to love the grit factor.
    • Finally remember to be grateful for your family, friends, and whoever supported you along the way in your journey. Gratitude will help build your own happiness and keep your mind centered on the important things in life.
    • Good luck!

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