What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Would you go to that belly dance class you’ve been thinking about for years? Would you start a blog!? Would you run your first 5k? Would you take a risk on a new career ? Would you start your own business? Would you go back to school? Would you create your own movement? What would YOU do if you weren’t afraid?
My name is Sarah Hamilton and before I go on, I need to tell you why I believe that we can do anything if we let go of fear and open ourselves up to possibilities. I have been an Elementary School Counselor for over ten years. This hasn’t just been a job for me. It doesn’t just pay the bills. It’s my passion, helping children achieve success and overcome obstacles. As a Counselor, I have learned and gained as much from my students as they have from me, I’m sure. Over the years, I’ve been amazed at what kids are able to overcome from abuse, neglect, hunger, being homeless, being raised by relatives, absent parents, foster care, illness, and even death. That is why I choose my profession: to make a difference in the world and to be amazed and inspired!
Additionally, I am a wife and mother. I am passionate about my family. You may be starting to tune out at this point because I know you don’t love my children like I do. But, don’t. When you listen, you learn. The best leaders listen to others. You are capable to being a great leader.; we all are. And, my son’s story will amaze you. His story changed me and I hope you also can change and grow from hearing about how to overcome a challenge or even a tragedy. We all have struggles and challenges to face, and hopefully overcome.
On March 25, 2015, I took the morning off work to go with my husband and son to an ophthalmologist appointment. He had started having some weird stuff going on with one eye for a couple days. We thought it was a wandering eye, or lazy eye and hoped that glasses would be an easy fix. Many boys he knew had worn a patch or wear glasses so he wasn’t too worried. As parents, we were a little worried because my husband had googled his symptoms and was thinking of the worst case scenario. His recent head tilting we believed was linked to his vision issues or a quirky habit. But, he had also thrown up 3 times within the past week and a half, which was unusual. As adults, we were nervous about what could be causing this. But like a lot of eight year olds, he wasn’t fearing the worst. He was thinking he may simply start wearing glasses.
Shortly into the eye exam, the ophthalmologist discovered his vision was pretty good. That concerned us as she continued to dilate his pupils. A life-changing moment was when she whispered that there was intracranial pressure, or fluid built up in the brain. She told us there was pressure on the optic nerve and we needed to have an MRI immediately. At this point, my husband and I were really scared. In fact, we both had to leave to room so Brody wouldn’t witness our tears and fear.
Brody had to unexpectedly fast the rest of the day so he could be put to sleep for the MRI. They were taking pictures of his head and, consequently, spine to determine to cause. Thirty minutes into that terrifying process later that day, the ER doctor came in to tell us the bad news: they found a mass in his brain. He went from seeming like a perfectly normal eight year old kid to having a brain tumor just like that.
I do not tell you this story to scare you. I doubt anything like this will ever happen to you. He had a rare brain tumor, juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, and had to have surgery to have it removed five days later. I tell you his story because I am amazed with how my son handled this bump in the road. I am amazed with how I handled this monumental life-changing event. I believe anyone, I believe YOU can handle anything if you are not afraid and believe in yourself. And I want others to know what to do when faced with a challenging event in your life. I absolutely know you have to let go of fear and hang on to hope, determination, and what’s right in front of you to succeed.
Brody’s surgery could have turned out in so many scary ways. First, for the five days before the surgery, we did not tell Brody what was about to happen. We did not want him to be holding fear before we faced this battle. He didn’t know anything until we headed to the hospital Monday to check in. When his dad sat down to tell him that we had to go back to the doctor, we did not tell him he was about to have brain surgery or that he had a brain tumor. As his neurologist had simply explained to him, there was something not right in his head and she’d have to move some stuff around to fix it. He began to cry because he didn’t want to go back to the hospital. But, I came in and told him: THIS IS GOING TO BE HARD BUT YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS. WE CAN DO HARD THINGS.
What he didn’t know was that he could be permanently changed. He could become a mute and have to learn to speak again. He may come out of surgery with a breathing tube. He may have a feeding tube for the rest of his life. He’d have to learn to walk and run again. Did he know any of this? No. We knew that fear would not help him get through all the challenges he’d face.
When you go into battle or the challenge of your life, you do not want to focus on the fear or the what-if’s. We need to focus on the fight. This is not about religion but personally, I know God came to me and relieved me of some of this fear the day of the surgery. And the days that followed his brain surgery while he was recovering in ICU, I absolutely took each day, each moment with a focus on the here-and-now, and not the fear of what could be ahead. You see, his brain tumor could have been cancer and she wasn’t able to remove it all during the 8 ½ hour surgery. It wasn’t until we were getting ready to leave the hospital at an astounding 9 days after having brain surgery that we learned that his tumor was benign or non-cancerous. At that point, though, Brody still didn’t even know that there was a chance he even had a cancerous brain tumor. At that point, I had a peace about facing whatever lay ahead because I had lost my fear and was focused on the joys of now and the accomplishments and miracles already achieved.
I know Brody’s amazing and quick recovery after his surgery was because he was not afraid. We didn’t dwell on what may be ahead or what could happen. When you listen to that good voice in your head and that peace in your heart that tells you to trust yourself, you are becoming the best person you can be. You are letting God lead your life down the right path. When you believe that things will work out, even though they seem hard and unfair, you are leading yourself towards greatness. You are leading yourself towards the life you’re supposed to have.
You don’t have to know what you’re going to be doing one year from now. No one ever truly does know. You don’t need to worry about next month. Setting goals and accomplishing them is great; it’s rewarding. However, the most fulfilling life comes from having gratitude in your heart for the present instead of fear of what’s ahead. That means worrying less about the what-ifs and celebrating more of the right-nows. The wonderful thing is that you get to choose- you get to choose how you handle situations even if you don’t get to pick the situations. And by making the most out of your life right now, by losing the fear of what could happen and doing what’s right ahead of you with your best intention, you can do anything.
How does this all apply to you? When you choose a life without fear, YOU CAN DO ANYTHING. Don’t be afraid to fail; we learn from our mistakes. Take risks even if you embarrass yourself. We grow from them. Do things that scare you because they will scare you less and less. And, finally, I do believe you can do anything if you put your mind to it.
Think of the hardest challenge or time in your life. Write it down, share it here ,or just recognize it for yourself. Every single one of us faces a challenge. How did you handle this problem? Did you do anything or did you feel helpless? Did you have any control on the outcome? What feelings did you have or still have? Write them down and be honest. Did you have feelings of fear or failure? If so, did they motivate you or discourage you? Is there anything you could have done differently?
Learning more about ourselves and deciding how we can become the best person now will benefit your family, your community, and also our society because we’re being your authentic self. Take a few minutes to think about yourself, your strengths and our weaknesses. By reflecting on what actions we currently are practicing, we can better ourselves and make a plan to become even greater. Are your fears and insecurities stopping you from the life you could have!?
Don’t be afraid to be honest. We all have room to grow. Don’t let others limit your own ability to grow and change. True friends want you to succeed. Choose rewarding paths to success and choose someone, even just one person, who will help keep you on this path. Many influences may try to steer you away or distract you from what’s best or leads to a healthy and successful future. Think of that one or few persons that supports the true you, that doesn’t judge or bring you down. Let them remind you that you can and should try new things and stop being afraid to live.
Because life is unknown. Time goes by fast. And, there is no better time than the present to focus on what you know you are truly capable of. We are never too young or old…. Leave fear behind and give living a try!