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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To High School Seniors In Their Last Semester

Senior year moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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Dammit, you made it. The final semester of your senior year. You’re at the top of the food chain of high school, and it feels so good. You’re probably praying this last semester flies by, that you get out of town as soon as possible.

At this point, you’re calling teachers by their first names, the entire staff knows you by name, and you’re walking around school standing tall, owning those hallways. You’re convinced you’re ready to leave and move on to the next chapter in your life.

You’ve already experienced your last football game, standing in the cold in the front row of the student section all season long, decked out in your school colors and cheering loud and proud. That is, until they lost, and you realized you will never have that experience again. Never again.

SEE ALSO: What I Wish I Knew As A Second-Semester High School Senior

You already had your last winter break. Preparing and celebrating the holidays with your family, ice skating and sledding with your best friends. Those quiet nights alone in your room watching Netflix, taking for granted your loved ones just a few rooms away. Never again.

If you’re an athlete, you may have already played in your last game or ran your last race. The crowd cheering, proudly wearing your school’s name across your chest, giving it your all. For some, it may be the end of your athletic career. Before you knew it, you were standing in an empty gym, staring up at the banners and thinking about the mark you left on your school, wondering where on earth the time went. Never again.

I’m telling you right now, you’re going to miss it all. Everything you’ve ever known. Those early mornings when you debate going to first hour because you really need those McDonald’s hash browns. The late nights driving home from practice, stopping for ice cream of course, ready for a late night of homework. Getting food on a whim with your friends. Endless fights with your siblings. Your favorite chips in the pantry. A fridge full of food. Coming home to and getting tackled by your dog. Driving around your hometown, passing the same sights you’ve seen every day for as long as you can remember. Hugs from your mom after a long day. Laughs with your dad. And that best friend of yours? You’re going to miss them more than anything. I’m telling you right now, nothing will ever be the same. Never again.

SEE ALSO: I'm The Girl That Enjoyed High School

Before you start packing your bags, slow down, take a deep breath, and look around. You’ve got it pretty good here. The end of your senior year can be the time of your life; it’s truly amazing. So go to the winter dance, go to Prom, spend Senior Skip Day with your classmates, go to every sporting event you can, while you still can. College is pretty great, but it’s the little things you’re gonna miss the most. Don’t take it for granted because soon, you’ll be standing in a packed gym in your cap and gown, wondering where the heck the time went. You’ve got a long, beautiful life ahead of you, full of joy but also full of challenges. You’re going to meet so many wonderful people, people who will treat you right and people who won’t.


So, take it all in. Be excited for the future and look forward to it, but be mindful of the present. You’ve got this.
Cover Image Credit: Hartford Courant

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A Little Glimpse Into What It's Like To Grieve In Your 20s

Debunking the stigma behind grief in the everyday young adult

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A few days before last semester my little brother, Ethan, took his life. After years of him struggling to find his place in the world, he put his troubles and sorrows to rest. I had just moved into my sorority house to begin my Junior year, and a few days later I awakened late at night with several missed calls and messages. My dad texted me saying, "Ethan passed away Blair, dad is so sorry." When I first read the text, I had to keep reminding myself that it was real. Shortly after receiving that, my parents and family friends came to bring me home from school.

The next few days were filled with a roller coaster of emotions. I was reuniting with old friends and community members for days on end while we were all trying to understand the immense pain that my brother had felt. Soon, I went back to school because I knew that even in times of tragedy, life goes on. Above all else, I knew it's what my brother would have wanted. Being back at school is/was interesting. I felt like I was being judged by everyone for returning to school so early. I was in no way ready to discuss my family's recent tragedy, and I am still not ready to discuss it, yet people insist on asking for information regarding my brother's death. Despite this, the people around me continuously promised to support me when I was feeling sad or hopeless. The weeks after Ethan's death had me in a complete fog, making it hard to focus even to this day.

Fortunately, not many people have to deal with the death of a sibling at such a young age. Subsequently, many are not sure how to handle such a thing. I am often at a loss for words for what this experience feels like. Often times I feel bad that people don't know how to respond to me. Grief is something I would never wish upon someone.

Even on the days I feel alone, I know that there are people here to support me.

It means the world to me when people reach out and ask how I am doing, or to meet up with me for something as simple as ice cream. I appreciate this more than one knows.

On top of dealing with my brother's death I was dealing with rejection from a boy for the first time. Rejection of any kind is difficult, and is something everyone experiences in their life. Although I have felt rejection in many forms, especially being an aspiring actress, this was the first from a potential suiter. The loss of any friendship has been so hard after losing my brother. It has been hard to process other aspects of my life, and especially the crazy life of dating and being a 20-year-old in college. Moving on, and separating my grief from that rejection has been no easy feat.

As my semester was coming to a close, I ran into the boy I was interested in at a holiday party. This time of year had proven to be hard for me when I thought of the happy times spent with my brother during the holidays. That night was the first time I was unable to compose myself and put my best face forward being the actress I am. I couldn't hide my emotions anymore and I was overcome with grief. I had hit rock bottom. This journey has consisted of immeasurable self-doubt and soul searching.

Soon after the holiday party, I was told by someone who has been an authoritative figure to me, that "I was grieving weirdly" and that I "should go home for the rest of semester and take an incomplete". There were only two weeks left of the semester and my grades were great. I was so deeply offended by this notion, and that they had the audacity to judge the way I was grieving. I have been trying my best, and that is all that I can do. Despite this toxic conversation, I finished out the semester strong and took my well-deserved three-week break. My break was filled with much needed respite, creative inspiration, and time to collect my thoughts.

Coming back to school, I had an open conversation with my community on the reasonable steps they could take to support me in my journey for the rest of the school year. All someone that is grieving asks, is for you to sympathize with them. Thankfully, it was received well and I look forward to my upcoming semester.

There is often a stigma behind people who are actively grieving. Yes, I am going through a lot, yes, I am sad. But that doesn't mean I am incapable of loving life and experiencing things going on around me at school or in my life. This especially includes dating. I have learned that it is okay to embrace my feelings and express them in whatever way I deem fit. Grieving the loss of my brother has also made me stronger than ever. I can handle anything and I am ready to make my impact on the world.

Everyone experiences pain, struggle, grief, etc. What matters most, is how they come out of it. I want to continue the message of kindness. I am so grateful for my newfound bravery and at the end of the day, I will always miss my brother's unique perspective and outstanding sense of humor. If he were here today, first he'd probably roast me and then I know he would only want the best for me. In the end I plan to live my happiest life.

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