What has happened to you, does not define you. You can not control what ZIP code you were born into. You don’t get to choose where you get inserted into this world. That location determines where you learn the basics and where you get schooled. It’s your baby steps and the learning that will start your moral compass.

You can’t help what family you are born into. They are the people who will bring you into adulthood. The ones tasked with shaping you and your future. You don’t get to decide what that influence is.

It may be a white picket fence with solid teachings and education that gives you a good start. It may be a long way from healthy and require you to dig deep and be your own core. One thing is certain...life is not fair. It is a world evolved from a fallen place. What was once simple and good, has become a world of temptations and sin. What doesn’t change is that you can be and become what ever you work for.

How do you rise above the raising?

You reach inside you and you find the strength. You realize that you have unlimited power if you tap into the heart of you. The people around you... every single one of them has troubles and strife. The world is hard place and it’s not meant to grow us emotionally, spiritually. It’s meant to give us enough rope to seal our fate.

Where do you grow?

When you find the courage to step outside of those stigmas ... you grow. You decide what adjectives will define you and then you live up to them.

You want to be strong. Then you become strong. You want to be a hard worker, then you start working hard. You want to be successful? Then start small ... and set little goals and work your way up. Start by dragging yourself out of bed on your first alarm ... make your bed ... be on time ... better yet, be early. Lombardi time.

You don’t have to be what is expected of you .... you can be more. Better. Greater. Maybe even different.

In truth, you are only limited by your imagination. Did you know that there are ways to attend college regardless of your previous educational results? If you want that, then you start asking each and every nonprofit and government agency out there how to get there.

What if you don’t know what you want?

Join the club. Half the people walking around you didn’t have any clue what they wanted to do. What they wanted to do before? So they just didn’t. They chose to not do anything. They chose to put their head down and walk the line put before them.

There’s nothing wrong with walking the line ... if it’s what you want. Some people are happy to have the line and happy to walk with those around them. But what if deep down inside ... you wanted. You wanted to see things ... art, galleries, the ocean foaming up on the southern coast verses the northern coast.

The world is a big place. Don’t believe me. .. that even in the smallest of places that there are many more people that you realize. Wait till it’s dark, then find a high spot (like a high school stadium, a tall building, or even just standing on the hood of your truck ...) and as the sunsets, the lights around you begin to come on. Families coming home, families needing food and homework. The worklife of most people are done for the day and the lights begin to come on at home. The porch lights that keep the fires of home warming. Leading kids home through storms, dust, sadness, frustration, and the never ending list of emotions. Watch the lights come on and begin to count the number of hearts in each of those homes. The world is full of people.

Take those dreams, you know the ones that you keep tucked away and write them down. Flesh those out. Study up for the first three steps that you need to accomplish to make that first goal. Grab a marker, pick a wall and start planning.

— Kalynn Brazeal is a conservative, Christian wife/mom/country girl carrying around an MBA, several decades of business experience and a strong opinion. Now living in the remoteness of North Dakota, she continues to share her column on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and cake. She can be reached by email at kmbrazeal@icloud.com.