Growing up, we were taught many things. We were taught not to play out in the street, not to talk to strangers, treat others as you would want others to treat you, and so on and so forth. And there are some things that we picked up on that maybe our parents or legal guardian never taught us. Although our ‘upbringing’ has formed most of our thoughts and opinions of the world around us, there are other elements that have played a major role in the direction of our life. Take a moment and think about everything you’ve ever encountered up to this point. Just imagine the type of environment you grew up in. What type of television shows did you watch and what were some of the messages portrayed? If you were even aware of the political structure back then, what was it like? What was it like during grade school? What was being taught in the classes? What was the overall attitude of the other students attending the same school? Every time you accomplished something you were proud of, how did others treat you? Did they attempt to ‘down play’ your accomplishment or were you met with encouragement? I can remember grade school like it was yesterday. I attended in the 90’s and I guess you can say the environment has changed a bit since then but there are a few things that will probably be the same for as long as the educational system remains in existence or even the world for that matter. Back then I witnessed some of the cruelest treatment and abuse of students by other students. Anyone showing any type of ambition or pursuit of a goal was looked at with great animosity by a specific group of people. They were labeled and targeted with great vengeance. “HOW DARE THEY WANT TO MAKE ANYTHING OF THEIR LIFE?” These kids, doing everything they can to make something of themselves, were embarrassed, teased, harassed, manipulated, and targeted .The school system did nothing to address these issues at the time. I, at one point, even overheard a principal telling a parent that whenever the child gets tired of the harassment, he will do something about it himself. There was no one these kids could turn to. I can only imagine what that experience was like for them. The point in sharing this example leads to my next point. How does an individual become who they are today? What are some of the characteristics developed within a human being that gives them an advantage over the ‘average’ person. Can tragedy and struggle be used as opportunity? I can make a strong case that the example presented earlier plays out, not just in our school system but in the streets of society as well. ‘Being different’ has almost always been frowned upon, not only as kids but as grownups. Listen, this isn’t about a specific special interest group, but it’s more about an individuals’ personality and character and how that person fits in. We spend most of our lives categorizing people and placing them in one group or another. Believe it or not, it’s also played out in the media. The media, however, carries their own agenda and the majority of the time they divide groups and pin one group against the other. It has happened over and over. The struggles of another are blamed on various entities. The media, as well as the rest of society, will tell you it’s not your fault you’re in this situation. They will tell you there’s nothing you can do and that you have to rely on specific governing bodies and you will never get ahead because of other people. Now, let’s take a look at big corporations, for instance the pharmaceutical industry. The pharmaceutical industry is full of businesses that are responsible, not to its’ customers, but its’ shareholders. And to make their shareholders happy, stock value has to be up. To make their shareholders happy and to increase share value, profits have to be made. It’s all about the money. These companies spend more money on marketing than any other industry. Every time the television is turned on we are bombarded with advertisements touting the ‘next big medical breakthrough’. Years will pass and you see that same drug linked to serious health concerns and it’s eventually pulled from the shelves. I thought these drugs were perfectly safe. I mean, who is responsible for protecting the public from outrageous claims and health issues related to these drugs? The government? The FDA? How would you feel if I told you that the pharmaceutical industry spends more money than any other industry on lobbying activities. They are highly involved in the political process. I can go on and on about the connection but the point here is to get you to think beyond the things that are being told to us through the media and the general public. The key is to look beyond the distraction that is laid out for us all. Presidential elections is a very good example. Every time an election nears, media outlets will devise a plan to attack one group or the other. Many times stories will be edited to fit one agenda or the other, later to be retracted. By then, it’s too late. The public falls for this drama every single time. I have seen it play out through the ones closest to me, fighting over politics. Whether you’re a democrat or republican, society is brain washed, when in fact, our choice of candidate is limited by just a few choices handed down to us by each political party. I am not attempting to target one subject over another but the whole idea of the topic is to get you to challenge everything. Every day, businesses and governments will attempt to control and vie for your every dollar. Our whole life we have been told that we need to build our credit up to have a great credit score so that we can buy more things on credit. Why is this? Is it perhaps to keep us slave to debt and big corporations for the rest of our lives? There are so many misperceptions and myths out there. These are only some of the basics to freeing yourself and not becoming slave to the media, the government, big corporation, or any other entity for that matter. Educate yourself. It’s not about getting a degree but more so about reading and asking the right questions. There are so many opportunities. We all have struggled in our own way. Use it to grab opportunity by the throat. Each one of us, through our own struggles, have gained something special………we’ve gained something that can’t be bought………..you can’t get this by going to school for another four years………..By our own struggles and heartache, we have an amazing opportunity to be great. The seeds of greatness are born in each and every one of us. It’s up to us to seize the everyday challenges and opportunity.