I have not always had the mindset that I could do anything that I put my time and effort into. For a lot of my life I have just done what is necessary to get by and that was good enough for me. I didn’t have anyone to tell me that if I try just a little bit more, that I could do something great. I didn’t have anyone holding my hand along the way or guiding me down a certain path, or being there to pick up the pieces if I failed. That’s okay, it has helped me become who I am today.

The one thing I learned very early on is that I am not bound to any stereotype or bias based off of who I am. I am not bound to be any certain thing because of my gender, where I come from, or what I do or don’t have access to. It is entirely up to me to become what I envision myself to be.

There are two principles that I live my life by. One is to be able to call myself out on my own bullshit. You can be told time and time again the proper advice and the things you can be doing better and never actually hear it when it comes from someone else. When you finally are able to realize what it is that you’re doing to hold YOU back, that’s when you’ll transcend past what you put in your way and start being able to get where you want to go. The second is to not limit myself from things based off of what I’m told I can or cannot do. I am a firm believer that if anyone tells you that you can’t do something, it is usually their inferiority within themselves manifesting an outward expression towards someone who can do what they can’t.

By nature, I’m incredibly stubborn. If I’m told I’m unable to do something, I want to prove that I can no matter what it takes. Stepping into the world of powerlifting, I feel like I am constantly at a battle to prove that I can be the best and that I am just as capable as anyone else, if not more capable. It is my choice to walk around a little jaded and with a small chip on my shoulder in order to continue to keep pushing myself forward. Is that the smartest thing to do? Maybe not, but it’s what I need to do to ensure I am always pushing myself forward.

It’s not just the amount of work that I’m putting in that will dictate the outcome of what I can or can’t achieve. Everyone is working hard and pushing themselves. The thing that separates those who will succeed from those who won’t is the unwavering belief that you CAN do the things you’re setting your sights on. This might seem like some cheesy motivational bullshit to most, but believing you can do something is the first step to ACTUALLY being able to do that thing. Since when did it become cool to think you’re inadequate? What purpose does that serve you in the grand scheme of things?

Somewhere down the line, it’s become lame to try hard for anything. Why? Fear. The fear of maybe not accomplishing something and looking stupid. I can 100% without a doubt tell you that I am constantly afraid of looking dumb, but that fear does not outweigh my need to pursue something that I want. I would rather try and fail over and over again before actually succeeding than just giving up without trying and without knowing what I’m capable of.

No one is perfect and negative thoughts will enter our minds no matter what we do. It has been an uphill battle teaching myself to use words of affirmation when talking about what I want to do instead of words that allow uncertainty to creep in. The way you talk to yourself in your own mind is what matters most. Make that voice the loudest and most confident in yourself.

At least once in your life, someone will tell you that you can’t do something based off of some ridiculous reason. Will that person impose their unsupported beliefs about your lack of capability on you? Or will you continue to work hard for the goal you set to attain? Stand with conviction in direction of your goals and bulldoze past anyone that tells you what you can or can’t do. Life is exactly what you make it - so make it entirely yours.

By: Riley Presnell