The Journey: Learn from the past, but don’t let it define you

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By SAMANTHA BRAZIE, Special to The Paper

Aloha, Paper readers! Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a conference for work that had a lot of very inspirational speakers lined up, along with a couple of people I had never heard of before. I like going to conferences, work or otherwise because I get to talk with people from different walks of life. Not only do I come back with great nuggets from the speakers, but also from the people I sit next to, the ones I end up at dinner with, etc. One of the speakers I had never heard of was Kat Cole.

For those of you that had no idea who Kat Cole was (like me), she started hostessing at Hooters in her late teen years and climbed the ladder so quickly that she became vice president at 26 years old. From Hooters, she went on to become the president of Cinnabon when she was barely 30 years old.

 I give you that (very abbreviated) version of her career to reveal that she grew up with a severe alcoholic for a father, causing Kat’s mom to leave him when Kat was nine years old to raise three girls on her own. Every year on Kat’s birthday, her mom writes the same note in her birthday card. It reads, “Don’t forget where you came from, but don’t you dare ever let it solely define you.” 

Please, read that again and think about it. 

I firmly believe that we should always remember where we came from. It answers emotional and behavioral issues that we may not otherwise understand. However, letting our past define us is a helpless behavior. You are not helpless. Your future is and can be anything and everything you want it to be. It can be limitless. And my friend, you are the only one that can give that to yourself.   

All of us have a past. Some may be more positive than others, but I would venture to say that no one reading this today can reflect on their past and not think about what could have been or wish some things had been different. 

My favorite character (Kate) on my favorite TV show (This Is Us) said in the last episode, “Life would be much simpler if we could live it backwards.” My take on that is that we can only really understand our lives by looking back on things we’ve already done. We must come to terms that hard times, and sometimes heartwrenching times, happen to us for a greater purpose. It could be to help yourself in the future, your kids, friends – it’s impossible to know. 

But what doesn’t help us, as I mentioned in my last column, is ‘ruminating’ on them. So use your Journey as a tool or perhaps, a gift, to adapt and overcome anything in your future and maybe – just maybe – help others along the way. 

Until next time, friends. 

“Turn your words into wisdom.” – Oprah Winfrey

Questions? Comments?  Email me at [email protected]

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