Becoming The First You

Becoming The First You

No one has ever become you, and no one ever will again
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About 15 years ago, there was a highly anticipated professional wrestling match between two of the best wrestlers in history, Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho. The storyline of this match was that growing up, Jericho idolized Michaels, but now wanted to surpass him and become the better performer. It was here, during one of Chris Jericho’s promos that he said something that has always stuck with me: “I grew out of wanting to be the next Shawn Michaels, and I concentrated on becoming the first Chris Jericho.” Putting personal feelings about professional wrestling aside, that comment is quite profound. Here is a man, who was trying to be someone else only to realize that his best course of action was to become the best, and first, version of himself.

We often find ourselves wanting to be other people. Whether it be good looks, fame, money, or luck, there are always people who appear to have what we want. It is easy to attempt to emulate these people’s traits and characteristics. It is easy to want to become the next Beyonce, Brad Pitt, or Mark Zuckerberg. They are are rich, famous and successful. Why not try to be just like them? It relieves us of the burden of trying to carve our own path and make our own decisions. We can just do what they do. However, they didn’t become that person by trying to be like someone else. They reached that status because they focused on becoming the first version of themselves.

Becoming the first version of yourself is incredibly difficult. There is no roadmap to becoming yourself because no one has ever done it before. No one has ever become you, and no one ever will again. To become the first version of yourself, you need to determine what type of person you want to become, what you will stand for, and what you desire to accomplish while alive on this earth. It also means, doing what makes you happy, regardless of anyone else’s opinion. It means going against the crowd, going left when everyone you know is going right. It means doing something because it is what you want to do, not because it is what society is telling you to do.

I myself have often struggled with this problem. I have always strived to be me, do what makes me happy and what I believe is right. I listen to music I enjoy, not what is popular. I eat foods I like, not what everyone else likes. I could care less what anyone else thinks about any of the choices that I make. I have never tried to be the next Ryan Gosling, Kevin James, or Mark Cuban. I have always focused on becoming the first Kyle Grappone.

So, I ask you this question. Who are you trying to be like? Do you behave the way you do because it’s what the cool kids are doing? Do you make sure your interests are in line with what social media and the masses tell you it should be? Do you find yourself trying to copy the behaviors and actions of celebrities or acquaintances whose life you wish you had? If you do, you will only end up becoming a dollar store version of them, and no one is going to buy that version.

Be yourself. Find what makes you happy, and do it. It doesn’t matter if it makes anyone else happy. Determine what you are passionate about, seek it out, hunt it down, and capture it. Figure out what kind of impact you want to make on your family, friends, community and the world, and then spend every day trying to make that impact. Become the first version of yourself, and let others try to become a dollar store version of you.

About Me

I’m a youth/education public speaker and blog author. My goal is to use these mediums to inspire high school and college students to think differently about the next steps in their lives and choices they are going to make.

Thoughts on this topic? Have a suggestion of a future post? Interested in learning more about Kyle’s talks? E-mail me at Kyle@KyleGrappone.com and be sure to visit KyleGrappone.com!

The views expressed in this blog and all my content are mine and do not reflect the views and opinions of any companies and/or educational institutions I have had current or past connections with.

Cover Image Credit: Stocknap.io

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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A Few Birthday Thoughts

Goodbye teenage years, hello twenties!

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So, it is looking like I am about to leave my teenage years behind. I think that I want to reflect back on this time in my life and think about what I want to keep with me in my twenties and maybe some things I can let go. My teenage years have been full of love from my family and friends; hard work to make good grades in school and creating art. I developed several great friendships that I have held on to across the miles even though I went to college 14 hours away from our previous home. I am so thankful for the friendships I have made in college as well.

It seems like friends you make in your childhood and younger years can really stand the test of time. Maybe it is because when you became friends you were truly who you were. Everyone was genuine and didn't put up walls to protect themselves. You got to know someone on a deeper more personal level more quickly than if you had met later in life. I also think we laughed even more as children and that always creates good memories to look back on. So I think in my twenties I will try to hang on to the "childish" way of making friends. I will try to show my true self and will accept them for who they are, and we will laugh....a lot.

I think a good thing to let go of is always trying to make dead-end relationships work. When we were children on the playground and we tried to play a game together or jump rope and it just wasn't working, we would run off and find someone else. It was easy. It was just natural. Now sometimes I find myself trying to stay in a relationship by being overly nice, giving gifts, trying to find what pushes the persons "good" buttons. I might spend so much time trying to figure this person out that I leave out more solid relationships that are worth my time. So in my twenties, I will try to be more realistic about who to spend my time on. Some people are just never going to stand the test of time. I can continue to be cordial but won't let them rule my time and thought life.

As children, we loved our parents and siblings and would show love to them in a myriad of ways. Maybe it was hugs, pictures on the fridge, good night kisses, playing games, or just quality time spent together as a family. Starting my twenties, I am mature enough to realize the value of these people in my life. Thankfully, I have always known this. I was never the type that was embarrassed if someone saw me walking with my Mom or Dad or being dropped off in the Mom Van somewhere. I always knew these people loved me more than anyone else I was about to meet. But in my twenties, I plan to keep up with my family even when I am eight hours away from them. We are never too old to need the love of family.

As weird as it is to say goodbye to my teenage years, it's honestly helped me to soak in the precious moments of everyday life and treasure them even more. Every year when birthdays come around, it always serves as a reminder how quickly the days, months, and years fly by. I think that has been one difficult part of this birthday season. It's hard to say goodbye to the past, without a clear map of the future. But, I must remind myself that this is why growing up is a beautiful thing- as we live life and experience new things, we are better prepared for what the future may hold. Everything that I have experienced in my 20 years has served an important purpose- to make me into the person I am supposed to become. Yes, life is always changing and so am I... and change can be hard. Very hard. But one thing to remember is God is always constant. He will never change. No matter what number is on your birthday cake, He is always there...the same God yesterday, today and tomorrow. He is the Rock that we will always be able to cling to. Isn't that a wonderful thought? Even if we don't know what's in His plans for us in the coming year, it's important to make Him a part of our plans. Rather than worry about change, let's embrace it all- the good and the bad- and look to the Lord to see how He will guide and shape us.

Teenage years- the time has come. I must say goodbye to you now. But, you will never be forgotten. I will hold your memories in my heart forever. Twenties- I am excited for all that awaits me.

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." - Joshua 1:9

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