Opinion: How I overcame adversity and how you can too

by Atiya

You’ve got to swallow your pride and do what’s necessary to set things right. Sometimes even the most intelligent of us don’t always make the smartest choices.

Sometimes we think when we see others; they don’t have a care in the world. However, everyone has experienced adversity. During that time, we can choose to give up, or we can work through whatever the issue is and “keep it moving.”

As I said before, your circumstances have nothing to do with your destiny! You have the power to contribute to your success or your failure. As the saying goes, “nothing beats a failure, but a try.” So if you fall off that horse, get right back up and try, try again.

In a previous writing, I stressed the importance of holding fast to your dreams. Here, I want to remind you not to sabotage your own success. So many give up when the going gets tough, but you’ve got to hang in there. Then, when you can muster up the strength, pull yourself up. You can do it!

Prior to Mrs. Illinois International, I weighed close to 200-pounds. I was physically, emotionally and mentally overweight. After reading an article in Essence Magazine, I decided to take back my life. In six months, I lost close to eighty pounds, ultimately claiming the title of Mrs. Illinois International becoming the first woman of color to wear the title in their then 18-year pageant history.

This was a major accomplishment which required a lot of hard work and dedication. However, it didn’t stop there. One year later, I lost my job; my mother transitioned from breast cancer; and I went through a divorce after 16-years of being married. All of this happened within a matter of months.  I tell you, 2005 was a very trying year. I bounced back. Most of us do. However after a few years, a bad relationship left me homeless, isolated, and planning to break free from emotional, verbal, mental, and physical abuse. I was ashamed and embarrassed, which kept me from getting the help needed. You’ve got to swallow your pride and do what’s necessary to set things right. Sometimes even the most intelligent of us don’t always make the smartest choices. We just have to be sure to learn from our mistakes and make better choices.

I kicked that relationship to the curb along with every other one that was not serving me well. I stopped crying unnecessary tears. Hell if I was going to cry, they were going to be tears for my own self and family. I stood up and took my life back again. I had to suck it up and get to work to change my condition.

We all have things to address in our lives. Believe it or not, most of the issues we deal with come from childhood, and we spend our whole lives trying to overcome them. For me, my issues stemmed from being teased as a child. I grew up an epileptic having petit mal (absentee) seizures. I spaced out, walked off porches, and would lose my place while reading out loud in class. I was labeled “hyperactive” and got on everybody’s nerves for one reason or another.  My mother put me on Ritalin. She soon realized that Ritalin had adverse effects on my behavior and personality. My grades dropped in school and I became increasingly “out of it.” She took me off of the drug, and instead surrounded me with books, encyclopedias, bible stories, and gave me the dictionary to study to keep me busy. It did and still does today.

I also have the trait of sickle cell anemia. Now normally, sicklemia does not cause major issues. However, I was a sickly child and had frequent visits to doctor’s offices and hospitals. I had constant stomach aches and joint problems. Once, I had to spend over a month in the hospital for an “unexplained” swelling in my knee which caused me problems walking. I still deal with stomach aches and joint problems now, but I’ve learned that many symptoms I’ve lived with for years have been due to having the trait of sickle cell anemia. I grew out of having seizures when I was about thirteen.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not a “poor me” paper or “sulking session.” This is a message to say, “You can overcome difficulty and live a better quality of life.” While, it’s okay to P.U.S.H. (Pray Until Something Happens) through it; you also have to A.C.T. (Accept the Challenge to Thrive) and M.O.V.E. (Materialize your Opportunities to Validate your Existence).


Atiya is a professional trainer-for-trainers, the author of From Ordinary to Extraordinary, and a charismatic inspirational speaker who has spoken at various universities, spiritual houses and events throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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