by Tiphany N. Montgomery
I was born on the Fourth of July… 31 years ago. When I was little my mom told me that all the red, white, and blue shenanigans were just for me. The fireworks, she confessed, were a gift from President Reagan, and he had called every American, on my behalf, to celebrate.
July 4th, as I had known it to be, was special only because I was born.
Can you imagine what all the family reunions, BBQs, and parties can do to a little girl’s ego when she thinks that the only reason you’re having a great time is because she is alive?
Well, I can tell you firsthand that you feel like a star. A queen. Untouchable. And then one day, somewhere in between me learning about the tooth fairy and my beloved Santa Claus, I found out that my life was all a hoax. That the Fourth of July was actually America’s birthday. And the 40th president? Well, he had no idea who I was!
My life as I had known it was all a scam. And it all came tumbling down from there. The invisible crown I wore disappeared, and the life that once filled me with the feeling of being special was now replaced with the cold reality that I was normal like everyone else.
And because I believed what seemed to be a fact, I settled into a life of mediocrity.
Because it was easy.
My fireworks within had fizzled and I was officially… ordinary!
But something funny happens when you get older. The time flies by and the fear of not going after “that dream” — the one that keeps you up at night — starts to sink in. Reality becomes your enemy and you realize that the life you sat back and watched happen… sucks!
Well, my friend, I had had enough. I chose to design a lifestyle that would capture the beautiful, jaw-dropping firecracker that I am and it all gets done with no apologies!
My life is good because I designed it that way. I didn’t give my life over to fate and sit back twiddling my thumbs, hoping that my dreams would fall into place. No! I decided to live a life free from everyone’s expectations of me. Wild. Free. Full of integrity. And an insatiable desire to edify everyone who came into contact with me.
Fearless. And a voice for people who don’t have their own.
So in the spirit of me turning 31 years old, I want to share with you 31 quotes that I live by, and I challenge you to live your life on your own terms. Break all of the rules and make your own as you go along.
The “Live Life on Your Own Terms” Manifesto:
1. First rule of business: Stay out of everyone else’s and be about yours!
2. Keep your circle small and honest. Everyone is not for you.
3. Stay away from people with questionable character.
4. Closed doors are really a blessing. If you can’t pray a door open, don’t try to pry a door open.
5. “Don’t do shit you don’t believe in.” — Russell Simmons
6. “Not sure what to do next? Ask how can you help!” — Chris Guillebeau
7. Wear your invisible crown. Daily.
8. Pick your battles.
9. “No one on earth can do what you do, in precisely the way that you do it!” — Alexandra Franzen
10. If you want to know where you’ll be five years from now, listen to your words. You’re prophesying your future.
11. “If you’re not willing to go all the way, don’t start the journey at all!” — Charlemagne
12. If you’re feeling guilty, embarrassed or ashamed about the blessings of God, let that go. You were created to show off His goodness.
13. “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest to you.” — Mother Teresa
14. Work for a cause, not for applause.
15. Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you aren’t, in fact, surrounded by a-holes!
16. You are more important than you realize.
17. Be the type of person you want to meet.
18. “To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift!” — Steve Prefontaine
19. Be so good that they can’t ignore you!
20. Don’t ever be too prideful to ask for help. Asking for help when you need it is one of the wisest things you can do.
21. Commit to not giving a f*ck what people think. Daily.
22. “Excessive fear and self-doubt are the greatest detractors of personal genius.” — Robert Kiyosaki
23. “When your work speaks for itself, don’t interrupt!” — Henry J. Kaiser
24. “You can either throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off your face!” — Gatorade
25. “Don’t change so someone will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you!” — DailyLove.com
26. Examine what you tolerate!
27. “Raise your words, not your voice. It’s rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” — Rumi
28. Stop waiting on God to drop a blessing in your lap. Get on your knees and pray, then get on your feet and work!
29. I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that. Then I realized: I am the “somebody!”
30. Repeat after me: “I can do this!!!”
31. Never, never, never, never, never, never give up. Never!
This is your life. Commit to living it passionately. Don’t let the world dictate what that means for you. Show up. Show out. And rise to the occasion every single time.
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” — Mary Oliver
*This piece was first published in the Huffington Post.