76: I Think I Can

76: I Think I Can

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reboot Your Life

I Think I Can

The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.

~Oprah Winfrey

Purpose and meaning were what I was searching for. After graduating high school, I ventured into the workforce, uncertain of what I wanted to do with my life. I couldn’t even figure out why I was here. After trying about half a dozen careers, I had a life full of disappointments. I had hit rock bottom. Nothing seemed to work out. Flat broke and without a college degree, I became depressed and my future seemed anything but promising. I felt my faith dwindling. I needed solace. So, I felt like church would be a good place to start.

I began attending a local church. Little did I know that this church would be the very place where my life was changed forever. It was Easter time and the pastor talked about how Easter is a season of new birth, a time of growing, a time for solace. Well, I seemed to be in the right place. While attending the church, I met a special woman named Martha, who not only helped me find faith, but would reveal to me something that I had never known before.

At the time, I also went back to college because I wanted an opportunity to explore my talents. While going to school, I wrote a letter to the editor. Writing had always seemed interesting to me. What prompted me to write was my disagreement with the opinions expressed by others in my local newspaper. I wanted to put in my two cents. Little did I know that of all the letters the paper receives, mine would make the cut.

The next weekend, it was back to church. “I saw your letter to the editor,” Martha said. “Great job. Are you a writer?”

“Not even,” I replied.

“Well, I think you are, and you really need to do more. I am on the board of a publishing company and have years of experience in the writing business. I am a published author myself.”

Somehow I managed to maintain my composure. I couldn’t believe this. A woman from a publishing company thinks I can write. During all my years in school, I had been told the exact opposite.

Then reality set in. Not only had I been told all my life that I could not write, but even if I attempted this it would be extremely challenging. Would it be worth it?

I drifted back in time and remembered a line from a children’s story: “I think I can, I think I can.” The words of that little engine that could were inspiring. “I know I can, I know I can” became my enduring words of faith.

I needed that simplicity. I was a broken spirit. My Asperger syndrome had always made things more difficult for me. I had been wounded in battle but I wasn’t dead. I picked myself up, bandaged my wounds, and began to prepare for the journey. No looking back now. I think I can, I think I can. I know I can, I know I can.

The next time I went to church, Martha asked me, “Do you have any other pieces that you’ve written?”

“Well, yeah, actually I do.” I said.

“E-mail them to me,” Martha said. “I’d love to read them.”

I e-mailed Martha poetry, essays, and letters to the editor that I had written. A few days later a new e-mail message from Martha appeared. “You are a writer, Tyler, a very talented writer. Have you ever considered making a career out of it, perhaps journalism? You seem to enjoy talking about the news and you articulate messages so well.”

The next week, Martha and I went out for coffee. She told me she would help me develop my writing. As time went on, Martha and I began to meet regularly during the week to discuss my writing. Her patience and commitment to seeing me succeed as a writer made it all worth it.

The key for me was having someone believe in me. The more I failed, the more I asked for help and tried to improve as writer.

Today I am an accomplished writer and was a student at Beaufort County Community College before pursuing journalism at East Carolina University. I have been published in CNN iReport, USA Today, The New York Times, The News & Observer, The Daily Reflector and The Fayetteville Observer.

The message I heard at Easter came alive for me. I experienced a new birth, and courage. Like a bird leaving its mother’s nest, I developed a strong will to fly, began to spread my wings. As I did, I said over and over again, “I know I can, I know I can.”

~Tyler Stocks

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