Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Going after your dreams

There are so many people going through life ignoring their dreams. Everyone has something that they would like to pursue, something deep inside their hearts that they know they were meant for. Most of us are just too afraid to go after them. We worry that we will fail, we worry what people will think of us or we just aren't willing to sacrifice what we would need to in order to achieve it, among other countless reasons. Most of us end up going throughout our entire lives dragging our feet doing what is acceptable and expected of us, making a living at a 'normal' job but end up being completely miserable. You can see it in the faces of people as you walk down the street. Sure, they might have a nice house, nice car and everything else that the world views as 'success' but they will never truly be happy. You can't buy happiness yet most still try. Just look at all the numerous lost souls in the world that are viewed as having made it or successful, Hollywood, the music industry, athletes, etc. There are very few of them that have any kind of stability in their lives, families or their relationships. I think a big reason for that is they/we get so focused on the things that don't even really matter and sacrifice that for the things that actually do. I used to be one of those people. Not that I ever had the idea of making tons of money and finding happiness through it but I had a dream and I was too scarred to go after it. I didn't believe in myself and I didn't think that anyone else would either. 

I had always wanted to be a fighter ever since I was little, not to say that it's what I knew I wanted to do but there was always something that drew me to that world. I would watch fights regularly and just be amazed at what those people did. Even if they weren't the best I would still be fascinated at how much effort they put in and how the fans would react to them. I wanted to be a part of that. I never told anyone about my dreams, I didn't think that they'd take me seriously, mostly because I didn't even take myself seriously. The only person that I ever told about my dream was one of my best friends, Moe. One night we were hanging out drinking, as usual, and I let him know about how I'd always wanted to fight. I expected him to laugh but instead he looks at me and says, "Well why don't you?" I told him about my fears, about how I thought I was already too old and that everyone would probably just laugh at me and maybe I'd end up losing all of my friends. "Well I'm not laughing. I think you'd be great at it. You should stop worrying about what might happen and just do it", he says to me. I knew that he was right but I was still hesitant. I would think about it from time to time, I even went down to a Muay Thai gym (Toddy's) in 1998 and talked to one of the trainers, Master Chan, but never pursued it further. A big reason was because I found out just how expensive it was going to be. I wanted to learn as fast as possible, which to me meant taking one on one lessons from the head trainer, which was way out of my price range. I left feeling defeated yet there was part of me that was grateful. Now I could say that I at least tried and had an excuse not to go after this further. 

About a year later Moe ended up dying. He had been born with a heart defect, in and out of hospitals his entire life, and was waiting for a transplant. Unfortunately that never came. I had never lost anyone that close to me before, just relatives that I didn't really know. It was, and still is, one of the most difficult things that I have ever gone through. I promised myself that I would go after my dreams and live for both of us. I was already an alcoholic prior to his death but after he passed I took a nose dive further down that dark road and pushed my dreams further into the background. I had partied a lot most of my life but now all I could do was drink. I literally had to or else my body would start shaking. I worked in a few of the casino's at the time doing charicatures so I would just go drink whenever I'd take breaks. Obviously this was pretty easy considering it was Vegas. This lasted for almost five years. One day my girlfriend, Gina, and I, along with my dad and his wife, were all hanging out playing pool, drinking and having a good time. Suddenly I had this overwhelming feeling, as if I was just hit by a mack truck. I realized that I had wasted the last 5 years off my life, along with all the years prior, by not going after my dreams. I knew that if Moe was still alive he would kill me. He died before his life had even gotten started and here I was, perfectly healthy and wasting mine everyday. I poured the 40 that I was drinking out in the sink and vowed that I would stop throwing my life away and finally go after my dreams. The very next day I called Master Toddy's and within the week I started training. 

I knew that this was going to be difficult. Not just the training, but quitting drinking and partying. I told myself that if I was going to go after this than I had to do it all the way or not at all. That's actually another reason that I had never gone after it sooner, I wasn't willing to give up all the bullshit in my life, but there was no turning back now. I couldn't look myself in the mirror any longer if I didn't go after this. I wasn't sure if my friends would understand, especially when I couldn't go out partying with them anymore. Almost everyone was shocked when I finally told them about what I was going to do. Surprisingly, however, everyone was very positive and told me that they thought I'd be really great at it. I'm sure a few had their doubts and figured it was just a phase but once they saw how serious I was they were really supportive, even though they would still get pretty bummed out when I'd decline on hanging out. Eventually they just stopped asking.

I completely dedicated my entire life to fighting. All I wanted to do was get in the ring and fight, at least once. I completely gave up drinking cold turkey for that first year. The day after my second fight I celebrated with a drink. I still would only drink occasionally, but that's only after a fight for a day or two. Now here I am 3 and a half years later and I've had more fights than I ever could have imagined. I've traveled the world and have met some of the most amazing people. It hasn't been easy, actually it's been the most difficult thing I have ever done and I've had to give up more than I could have ever imagined, but it has all been worth it. 

No matter how tired or sore I get, no matter how much I have to drag my aching ass out of bed in the morning, I can always look myself in the mirror with a smile knowing that I'm living my dream. 

I never know when all of this is going to end. It's all extra to me anyhow as I never thought I'd even still be alive at this point, let alone living my dreams. God willing I'll end it (fighting) on my own terms but you never know what's going to happen in life. Even if it all ended tomorrow I can rest easy knowing that I had a dream and I went after it with everything that I had. 

What I want to say to everyone is face your fears, live your dreams. We aren't promised tomorrow. We aren't even promised today for that matter. All we have for sure is right now. When your life is over are you going to be satisfied with what you have done or are you going to look back in regret. It won't be easy but no matter what, even if you fail, at least you tried. You will be much happier knowing you went after it and failed than having held yourself back because of fear. Live your life to the fullest, we only get one! I'll end this with a quote,"If you keep doing what you've been doing, you'll keep getting what you've been getting."

-Kevin Ross


  1. Anonymous5.3.09

    I'm glad someone else thinks this way. And doesn't give out the whole "Ohhhh, you have your whole life ahead of you, just enjoy it while you can" advice.

    I HATE hearing that. 'Cause like you said, we aren't ever promised tomorrow. And more people need to realize that instead of sitting on their asses letting their life pass them by.

    I see a lot of myself in you, and I've told you before that I admire you. But, once again thanks for adding more fuel to my fire, so to speak. :)

    - Jen

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