What Helped Me Get Success in Spite of Childhood Trauma
I have gone through foster care due to having an extremely physically abusive parent. I've met others who went through the same. I am definitely not done accomplishing everything I intend to be successful at, but I have achieved a certain level of success that many strive for. What do I think helped me be successful in college, work & eventually go for my own entrepreneurial journey?
1. I seek help
I had counselors & therapists on and off throughout my life. I choose to have one in adulthood to help me overcome overwhelm & best cope with life stresses. An excellent therapist that I trust and with whom I feel like I can share my most unsavory thoughts & actions, then actually help me with ideas to overcome them and act more in accordance with who I want to be. Asking for help can frequently be seen as a weakness, but it's a sign of strength.
2. I had help
My adoptive parents did everything they believed would be helpful for me. While I don't agree with everything they did to help, it was apparent that they loved me and wanted me to be successful. They consistently told me that I was smart and could do anything I wanted (with emphasis to become a doctor). I am a physical therapist in adulthood. I also had teachers who have made a large impact on me and helped me realize skills that I am exceptional at. Others opened my mind to new (at least new to me) ways of thinking. Thank you to those in my life who helped me realize what is exceptional about me and helped me improve who I am. It also makes me realize the grand impact people can have without realizing it. The people I am speaking of probably have no idea that I hold them in such high regard.
3. I did the work
Throughout school, I did my schoolwork. My foster parents frequently offered to help. I think I asked exactly once for trigonometry in 3rd grade. They made me do every single problem on the page instead of the half that was actually required for the assignment. This help was more stressful than I expected. I learned to more look through the book and compare similar problems. I learned to use my resources to learn what I needed to for my classes. It proved to be a valuable skill which helped me through college & still helps me with my job & entrepreneurial journey. Of course I had to learn to balance this with accepting help from others.
4. Accept imperfection
When I did homework, I didn't feel like I had to get everything perfectly right. If I was genuinely stuck on something, I asked the teacher how to get the right answer even if it meant accepting a point docked. It didn't mean that I purposely did a "half ass job," but just that I wasn't going to expend exceptional effort for a small reward. I wanted a return on investment (of my time & effort) to be worth it. Great benefits can be yielded from imperfect things (and they are). I am in the process of learning to accept a minimum viable product to sell rather than thinking it has to be close to perfect.
5. Accept responsibility
I am responsible for my life. Bad things happen and a lot of things happened to me that were not my fault. However, it is my responsibility to change what I don't like or want in my life. People are not obligated to help me or do things for me just because I might feel something is someone else's fault. Who the blame lies with does not change who has to do something about it. Social interactions were challenging in childhood because of how I was treated, but overcoming that was critical to succes in college and working with people as a physical therapist. If anything, the understanding I have in what that feels like helps me relate to and benefit more people.
6. Accept myself
It is so easy to harp on flaws and get carried away with all the things I've done wrong in life. However, this thought pattern has never led to progress in my life. The times when I've made the most progress are when I accepted my flaws for what they were and realized that I can't go in the past to change what I did. I have consistently made the most forward progress when I have accepted where I was at and focused on something I could change for the better. Accept & love myself exactly as I am, yet realize I have absolute power to change for the better & act on it. Accepting myself as I am is critical to changing for the better so I don't get stuck (mentally) in the past.