Perspective is born when we experience something that puts us out of our comfort zone, challenged us and forces us to rise up. It’s what enables us to grow as human beings and see things from a different point of view. It took a trip to a third world country and seeing how the rest of the world lives that put life into perspective for Sharni. 

I went on a trip to Uganda with the Cotton On Foundation in September and it was a life changing experience that made me see that people’s problems aren’t really problems when you’ve seen how the other half of the world live.

One of the experiences on that trip that made an impact on my life was when I was teaching two young girls that had pointed to one of my tattoos and asked me what P.M.A (positive mental attitude) was. I explained it to her thinking she wouldn't remember what it meant but then a few days later we were at one of the schools and she  stood up in front of the class when being asked what she wanted to be when she grew up she said ‘when I grow up I want to be a lawyer and have PMA like Sharni.’

The fact that she remembered not only me but what I had told her was the moment I realised the impact of kindness.  It's more important than any amount of money could ever buy. Changing someone’s life can mean something as simple as a conversation, a hug, an act of kindness, a contribution to someone's education.

Whatever the mind can conceive the mind can achieve is one of my favourite quotes by Napoleon Hill. But one of the best pieces of advice I’ver ever received is, if you are not changing it, you are choosing it. You are 100% accountable for everything in your space, even the awful things that aren't your fault. You are 100% accountable for what you choose to do with that, it's important to have community but also pure strength through solitude.

People talk about issues, which is great but it's important to remember that talking doesn't change things because there is actual work to be done by YOU. Even when you think you have a support system the biggest behaviour I’ve learnt is you are alone most of the time, it's all YOU, even your loved ones surrounding you, you are still on your own in the end. Which is why surrounding yourself with positive people whose contribution will add to your success.

One of the biggest challenges I tend to come up against is myself. I feel my anxiety can really hold me back I care alot about shit that does not matter. It came back mid way through the trip to Uganda, however for a while there when I was immersed with the children and students and our amazing team everything that didn't matter, it all just slipped away and I was 100% present, and for a short while, I was free. I overcame the voice on my shoulder trying to push or pull me away and was just present. 

Isolation is terrifying but being alone and trying to find a way to process your thoughts is imperative to your development, longevity and success. ‘No one can destroy iron, but its own rust can, none can destroy a person but his own mindset can.’

If I could talk to my 14 year old self I would tell her it doesn't matter. All the anxieties you have now and things you worry about, won’t matter in 10 years time. Most of the people you have surrounding you will change dramatically as well, so stick to your guns, live a life of discipline and purpose. Short term pain long term gain, the energy sweating the small stuff is a waste of time, build resilience and just keep moving forward.

Because one thing they don’t teach you as a kid is that your individuality and the things that make you unique should be celebrated. Success isn't passing the test with a high score, getting rich and living the American dream. What they should teach you is how much opportunity is out there and show your what's possible, they don't teach you enough about community, life skills and ambition. And that it’s okay to fail and make mistakes, you’re only human.

Failure has taught me the hard way, it resonates and hits home harder when you feel it first hand, it builds the resilience to make informed decisions and understand your return on investment in the future.
‘Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.’
- Winston Churchill.

So invest in yourself more. Invest in your education & your health. But that doesn't just mean school. It can mean learning about yourself, exploring challenges, building mental resilience, learning about others, being open minded, trying new things, getting uncomfortable, travelling, doing hard jobs. Move, run, push boundaries, persevere, love hard, trust, get disappointed, read, study, once you have done all of the above you should have the skills to face everything else. Just keep leaning and growing.

I am aiming for progress not perfection. I didn't care what anyone thought in the past, but it was deflection and I haven’t addressed the issues in a productive way to date. I think too much and care too much about what people think and it's not fun. It doesn't actually achieve anything. Being honest with yourself and being accountable but still understanding that things take time is something I keep having to remind myself. Being consistent and building habits that will outlive the the traits you feel need to be fixed is something I am also working on daily.

Once you understand nothing is beyond repair, the more you fall the easier it is to get up. So take a break, do what you need to survive but never give up at the end of the day.

Because it’s up to you and only you. 

Words: Sharni Smith
Instagram: @sharnixsmith

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