Wednesday, April 29, 2015

AYD2015 #7 Utilize Your Ability: They Don't Know (Fill In The Blank)!

By J.Naomi

As your journey to Achieving Your Dreams in 2015 leads you down a road of self-discovery. We have to discuss ability and how you can use it as an advantage, an ally and often times a motivating factor. Many people think of ability as a restriction of what they are allowed to do in life. Instead you should think of ability in terms of the actions or resources that you can complete or accomplish to further push you towards your goals and dreams.

Although I gave you an example of our 8th step in the Achieve Your Dreams in 2015 post (click here to read all the steps), I want to provide you a more in-depth example using my personal experience.

During my senior year of high school I was passing my AP Political Science course with a B average and looking forward to attending Hampton University in the summer for pre-college. One day, my teacher stopped me after class and asked me to meet with her briefly before heading out to lunch. I agreed and when the bell rang for lunch I made a b-line to her classroom. I had no problem with it because Poly-Sci was one of my favorite subjects and I wanted to pursue a career in politics or law. However, I was surprised to see my African-American studies teacher in attendance. I remember feeling intimidated and anxious like I had just walked into a trap. I didn’t know what to expect but I knew that because my Caucasian teacher had needed the assistance of a Black counterpart to communicate to me it was probably serious. My teacher prepped me for the conversation by using statements like, “Please don’t be upset…” and, “It’s not a bad thing, but I think…” which made me more nervous. Finally, she said she believed that I was dyslexic and should be tested before I go to college so that I would be labeled with a disability and be given lenience in my classes. She also explained that once diagnosed I may have access to special financial aid opportunities.

As she began to explain to me about being tested her voice faded and my mind started to wonder. I felt like she was insulting me. Humiliated, I told her I would check into it and left the room in tears. I felt like she was telling me that things would be different for me and that what other students could do I would not be able. She made me feel like my future success was limited because of my ability.

Personally, I feel like God did not create me to be someone who goes with the flow of things. In life, I have never accepted the cards I am dealt if it is a less than a great hand. I don’t believe in limitations and restrictions. Nor do I believe that the easy way is the best way to get what you want in life. Hard work and integrity are the most stable building blocks in life’s foundation. Period.

After that meeting, I decided to never let anyone tell me how I would live my life or what I was able to do in life. Granted, there were many experiences that lead up to that but it was that moment that was the final straw. I never went to get tested. I decided that once I got to Hampton I would put that experience behind me and work extra hard to prove her wrong. Every paper, every assignment I put 100% of my ability into. I figured I may not have graduated at the top of my class in high school but I was attending one of the leading Historically Black Colleges in the country and that had to count for something. As a hustle on the side and an aid in reading and writing I charged my peers ten dollars to proof read their papers. I took my time and made sure to correct all grammar and punctuation errors. Every paper I proofread never got lower than a 90%. Furthermore, I completed my first semester in school with a 4.0 and by the end of my freshman year had been inducted into the honors college. Along with that I received the Presidents scholarship for my continuous placement on the dean’s list. Although I would finish my college career in Colorado, that year was truly a personal victory.

Another interesting thing that happened during this time was my developed passion for writing. I wrote a lot as a kid but stopped after an episode in which my mother had gotten a hold of my diary and ripped the pages out. Although innocent, my mother was very religious and didn’t met eye to eye with my creative form of self-discovery. In college I lost interest in pursuing political science, for obvious reasons, and decided to major in Communication. Pursuing a Communications degree ignited my need to write. Once I began writing again in college I wrote everything from short stories to screenplays to stage plays to essays and so on. Later on, my writing would lead me to become a 2007 OBS Screenwriter Competition Semi- Finalist, a 2007 Hollywood Black Film Festival Storyteller Competition finalist, a 2008 ABFF Nickelodeon Writers Lab Participant and currently creator and writer for Coily Culture blog and YouTube channel. I have done many things in between but you can see how writing holds a special value and merit for me.

So that brings me to the topic at hand, do not think about your ability as a limitation of your advancement. Think of what you are able to do to get the job done, get closer to your goals or to achieve your desires. Your ability may be what leads you to the thing you are truly passionate about. For instance, being dead broke and living in Atlanta brought me right back to writing again and kept me focused. Everyone has a place in this world and there is room for everyone to live harmoniously.

Use your ability to make it happen. Do what you can. Do not allow the lack of resources or financial ability to stop you from accomplishing your life’s design. Believe me I know what it feels like to look around and not have any options open for you. I have been homeless before (I will talk about that another day). Just know that it’s these times that you discover what you’re truly made of. These are the moments when you have to become creative and pull inspiration from within yourself to do something and to get the job done. It is also at these times, you can really appreciate the rough beginnings. During these phases, you can really get to know a little bit more about what makes you tick. Jump in to the driver’s seat and let your ability be your life’s GPS as you drive down the road of breakthrough. Ask not what can happen, instead do what you can.


  1. Wow.
    You have a lot of courage and confidence.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. @Tonya thank you so much for the support!


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