“I really want to, but I can’t because [add semi-valid reason here].”
That’s a template sentence to let yourself off the hook.
It’s not copyrighted, so feel free to use it any time you want to let go of your dreams and not feel bad about it.
Honestly, it hurts me every time I hear someone say it. I see it for what it is—an excuse.
Every single one of us has ambitions, hopes, dreams, and goals. We fantasize about them on our commutes to work and before we sleep. We talk about how we will one day achieve them, but when it comes time to put them to action, we use that template sentence.
I had every reason to use the template sentence. I live in a third-world country in the Middle East. We suffer from a lack of water, electricity, security, and opportunities—especially for girls.
In the Western world, if you want to learn a new skill, you sign up for a training course, get a book, find articles online, or join a club. It’s different here. Here, we don’t have training courses, libraries, or clubs, and the internet is slower than a snail crawling through peanut butter.
During my teen years, I felt stuck in my life. I wanted to learn so many things and achieve my wildest dreams, yet I couldn’t. How was I supposed to impact people when I would only leave the house to go to school on the weekdays and grocery shopping on the weekends?
I read stories of kids my age winning science fairs and inventing devices to solve the world’s leading issues. Yet, there I was, wasting my time at home, waiting five minutes for a single webpage to load.
I had always imagined what my life would be like, and this is not what I had pictured. Time was passing me by, and my talents and ambitions were going to waste.
I wanted to have an impact, but I couldn’t because I didn’t have the opportunities to learn and gain experience and feedback. (Notice the template sentence.)
This way of thinking was eating away at my soul. Day after day, I found myself sinking into a pit of misery. I would spend my days lying in bed, staring at the ceiling. There was nothing I could do to change my life, so why try?
One day, I had had enough. I had been lying in bed for days. It had been years since anything amazing had happened to me. I couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t accept the fact that this would be my life. There was an itch under my skin to make my life worth living.
“Life is too short to waste it moping about the hand of cards life had served me,” I thought. I didn’t care what it would take. I would do whatever I could to get myself out of the hole I was in.
I decided to use the resources I had to create the future I dreamed. “Bloom where you are planted” became my life motto. What I had access to at the time was the internet.
In order to get out of the country I was in, I concluded that I’d need a scholarship. I set my mind on getting the Japanese Monbusho Scholarship. I found blogs, articles, and books online to become fluent in Japanese. I practiced day in and day out. I tried a plethora of different methods to learn new words and perfect my grammar. In a few months, I was able to hold a simple conversation in Japanese.
I also realized that I would need money. I wasn’t allowed to go out and get a job. This was an obstacle I had trouble accepting. I tried to convince my parents to let me work, but they refused for my safety. My mother introduced me to the concept of passive income and showed me blogs that were making six figures every month!
I set out to build a hedgehog care website. Every day, after school, I would research hedgehogs and write detailed articles about how to feed them, groom them, play with them, and anything else one would need to know. I went on like this for 3 years, studying Japanese and writing about hedgehogs.
I’m sure you’re expecting a spirit-lifting ending where I travel to Japan and live off my flourishing website. That’s not how this story ends.
I didn’t get the scholarship. The fact is, I didn’t even get the chance to apply. I ended up studying in my third-world country. I was crushed. I didn’t want to, but it was either study here or not study at all. Unwilling to accept the facts, I started an online university the next year. I now study at two universities simultaneously.
As for the hedgehog website, it made me a total of $60 for the three years of work I put into it.
I can stand here and tell you that I tried, but it didn’t work out. That’d be a lie. It did work out—just not the way I expected.
I’m not in Japan, but I know how to speak Japanese and have met many interesting people along the way. I learned from them and gained experience just as I hoped I one day would. And instead of one major, I now have two, both of which I enjoy learning about.
My hedgehog website didn’t succeed, but I created a new one that’s even better with the expertise I gained. I interact with my readers often, helping them find ways they can live their dreams. I love hearing their stories and learning how I helped them build better habits or make their goals a reality.
I still live in the same country I did before. I still have to wait five minutes for a webpage to load. However, I know that even though the obstacles are always there—and always will be—they have nothing to do with happiness, fulfillment, success, peace, and satisfaction. Some people have it better than others, and some have it worse, but every single person, regardless of circumstance, can control their mindset.
I didn’t let my obstacles stand in my way, and I created my own opportunities when I found none. In an instant, anyone can decide to embrace the cards they’ve been dealt and create their own unique way to shuffle, redistribute, alter, or mold them into a winning hand.
About Layla Ashraf
Layla Ashraf, founder of ShutUpAndAchieve.com, is a driven achiever who inspires ambitious people to take control of their lives. She spreads the idea of wholesome productivity, helping achievers multiply their time, set realizable goals, and live their wildest dreams while still having time to focus on what matters most. Get her FREE eBook, 3 Steps You Can Take Right Now to Guarantee Success.