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Plank holds captured by Carl Dawson.

Thirty days away from the biggest competition of my life and I find my mind wandering, looking back on how far I’ve come. You ever do that? Stop to think back about where you were six months, a year, maybe two years ago? It’s kind of cool.

Well, while looking back on my life, I realize how much I’ve changed and how all the amazing people I’ve met along the way have inspired me to make those changes, and that’s a blessing … being able to embrace and recognize all that. But the closer I get to the competition, the more challenges I face and the more obstacles, and bigger at that, arise. I feel I am being tested every single day … like every challenge in my life is a pre-test to the final test on July 11th.

Whether it’s a financial challenge, a challenge to my character or integrity, my trust with a lover, my loyalty of a friend, the respect of my peers, the support from my family, what I see in myself when I look in the mirror … every day there is something, mentally or physically, that acts as an obstacle in my way of achieving my ultimate goal.  

But the key to all of this is to not lose sight of the goal. You must maintain the vision. When you face these challenges, address them … but don’t ever sacrifice who you truly are and what you want or need most for the little distractions popping up now. Nothing in this world worth having comes easy. If you’re experiencing doubt in your ability to stay focused towards your passion or goal, stop and look back on how far you’ve come. It’s a nice reminder of your strength.

What I’ve been, personally, trying to overcome these past few days, though, is the notion of fear.

What if I lose? What if I don’t win the competition that so many are hoping I succeed at? Or don’t succeed at, depending on your intake of hater-ade … Or what if I do win and something bad comes from it? Or back to square one … what if I don’t win? What if I let people down?

And then I spoke to someone very important to me and in a roundabout way, he reminded me that this competition is for me. I never set out to beat anyone or to prove anyone wrong or to seem like I am perfect and have never made a mistake … This competition is me against me … The journey of finding and becoming myself, one in which I’ve been on for the past two years, is what this entire experience was and still is about … about becoming and being the best possible version of me that I can be … my ideal self.

And through my special friend’s daily actions to overcome his own obstacles, he reminded me that we are not defined by our failures, but by our ability to deal with failure.

How do we overcome it? How do we stand tall? How do we let go of the past to create a better future? How do we get what we deserve? … And in his belief in my abilities, and in his continuous love and support, I found the answer …

Some are crowned and some are born queens … Regardless of a title, tiara, or trophy … We win when we do not give up.

When we are destined for something—a relationship, a job, an award, recognition of some sort, good health, etc.—nothing in this world can keep it from us if we are acting, doing, speaking and thinking in a way that allows us to receive it. Not a fake friend, lack of money, over dosage of hater-ade … nothing … NOTHING can keep us from what is meant to be ours. And that’s what we need to remind ourselves of.

Winning this competition would be amazing. It would open more doors for me and others than I could ever imagine, but winning the title isn’t necessarily what I am after.

I am after inspiration. Determination. Self-sufficiency. Goal achieving. Learning. Growing. Becoming. I am striving for the title to prove that dreams don’t work unless you do. I am doing it for anyone, anywhere who ever had a doubt about his or her destiny, faith or purpose. When you can do something and others can take something positive away from it, regardless of an official outcome, you've won … and they've won, too.

So, if you’re facing several obstacles on a regular basis and they start to mess with your mentality of achieving the goal, constantly remind yourself that this is for you and you deserve this. You deserve all great things because in your heart, you are acting with good intentions for yourself and for others. Although, you are not perfect and have made many mistakes in your past and will surely make some in your future, you are working hard to correct them, learn from them and grow. You are trying your hardest to make right with any wrong that’s been upon you. You take advice from others and try to help them. You are sincere and genuine even if others can’t see it and you strive for only positivity. You are a winner because you can admit your faults, overcome your fears and see beauty in all things, even those that may try to stand in your way. You are a winner because you do not give up.