I am very blessed to have in my life people that love and support me. People that, even if they don’t understand why or what I do, still offer words of encouragement and help keep me on the right path to fulfill my dreams. I haven’t always had these people in my life and I think because of it I value them that much more. There are many people in the world that do not have positive forces in their lives that encourage them to reach for their dreams. There are many people who watch their dreams wither and die because of a careless word thrown around by someone they love. If I didn’t have the support group that I have surrounding me I would not be able to live my dream of hiking the AT this summer.
I am a glass half full kind of person. I am always looking at the bright side of things and I am almost always in a cheerful, happy go lucky, kind of mood. Occasionally I have bad days, just like everyone does, when I’m not quite as happy. On one such day I was reminded of how lucky I am to have the support system that I do, and how it is so easy to let dreams slip away when we don’t have the right people in our lives. When I am in a good mood other peoples opinions, thoughts, and feelings about me or my trip don’t affect me. I am excited, happy, exhilarated, energetic enough, to not let the negative in.
I was recently having a discussion with someone that mocked my decision to hike the AT, made jokes about the likelihood of me dying while hiking, informed me that a million books have been written about the AT, and that my fundraiser would fail. Since it was a not so good day I started doubting myself and questioning my decision. I quickly realized what was happening and ended the conversation, but I started thinking about what had transpired and other instances in my life when something similar had happened. It made me think about all of the people that do not have positive reinforcement in their lives. Through just a few words we have the power to make or destroy someones dreams. The power to lift them up and help them soar, or dash them upon the rocks of disappointment. The conversation I was having was with someone, while not in my inner circle of friends, is still someone very important in my life. Someone who, in the past, had the power to change my mind about following my dreams.
I am reminded of how blessed I am and how wonderful my life is. How amazing the people I surround myself with are. You never know the state of mind of the people around you and what affect the things you say and do will have on them. Two years ago the things said to me would have caused me to delay my trip by making excuses about one thing or another until eventually I had stopped pretending that I was going to do it. I know now that most of what was said was that persons fears speaking for them and that the words only have to power over me that I allow them to. But what words have I said or you said, to someone that doesn’t have the same strength or support, that shows our fear and insecurity? How often do the things we say and do hurt the ones we care about without us even realizing it? I ask this of you; the next time someone comes to you with a thought, an idea, a dream, and it sounds ridiculous or unrealistic, or stupid, take deep breath before responding. Give yourself a minute to think before just blurting out the first thing that comes to mind. Be supportive, voice your concerns if you have any in a way that doesn’t make the person you are talking to feel like they are stupid, or unrealistic, or ridiculous. Stand by the people in your life and offer what support you can. You never know when a careless word will be enough to dash someones hopes, or dreams. You never know when a careless word will be the last one that someone needs before they decide they can’t take life anymore. You never know when your nice word will be enough for someone to get through the day. You never know when your encouragement will be what builds airplanes, or cures cancer.
Thank you to everyone that has been there for me and supported me. Thank you to everyone that thinks hiking the AT is ridiculous, and unrealistic, and stupid, but still tells me that if that’s what I want to do then they are there to help me however they can. I have too many names to mention but you know who you are. I love you and you are more appreciated then you will ever know. Without your love and support I wouldn’t be half the person that I am and I never would have had the courage to reach for the sky and live my dreams. Thank you for teaching me what a difference a word, good or bad, can make.