Believe it or not, back surgery was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I know this might sound crazy but my back injury was one of the most positive and pivotal points of my life. My eyes were set on becoming a professional fighter/black belt Brazilian Jiujitsu instructor but all that changed in an instant. I went from being very capable and athletic to being stuck in bed staring at the ceiling with nothing I could do about it. It taught me a few things:
1) You have two choices in life -- accept and own a situation and change it for the better
2) To go the negative route and let self-pity consume you
After a hard battle with the latter, I decided to try something that I'd never really done before. I fully embraced my injury and my current life situation. I learned to celebrate the fact that I could have died in the car accident Instead of feeling sad that I couldn't be physically active in almost any sense of the word. When I started this practice many mundane tasks throughout the day started becoming less cumbersome and I started owning situations instead of pushing blame onto something or someone else. This was the greatest lesson from my injury. I knew nobody was going to attend the hundreds of physical therapy sessions that was going to be required to get me back to my preinjury condition except for me.
This lesson started opening my eyes to other avenues in my life that I needed to start taking responsibility for. Not being a college graduate was one of them. I attempted junior college when I was fresh out of high school. C's, D's, and the occasional F plagued my ambition. Graduating high school with a 1.8 GPA this wasn't a surprise. With my new state of mind I decided to attempt one more try. It took a few courses to get back into school since I had been out of high school for six years already. But eventually I started earning A's and B's in many of my classes and I quickly realized that I was really becoming capable of whatever I put my mind to. I continuously up'd the ante from here and decided I wasn't going to just transfer to any 4 year college - it had to be the best school that I could transfer to. After reaching the required 70 units required to transfer I was unfortunately denied from every school I applied to. That was pretty tough at 25 years old still reeling with my physical injury. What next? Out of what seemed pity one school that I didn't even apply to extended me acceptance. I really had to think long and hard about what to do. Do I transfer to a low on the totem pole university or do I put my ass into overgear and join the Honors Program, continuing getting straight A's and do a massive amount of environmental cleanup for more accolades. So many friends and family members said, You should just transfer. What if you wait and don't get in anywhere?! I didn't listen. And you know what? One year later I got accepted into UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UCLA, and UC Berkeley. By sticking to my gut instinct and staying positive (cheesy but true) I transferred to UC Berkeley, the number public university in the world.
The most profound gift I received from my injury was yoga. In all honestly it took a lot of courage to walk into my first class. I was used to grappling sports and kick boxing, not quieting my mind and humming Om with other strangers. It made me feel so vulnerable. Battling you ego through every movement, through every breath. In yoga there are two limitations: your physical and your mind. You must learn to find the balance of pushing yourself and respecting your body. There is confusion of your body's limitations and where the mind sets those limitations. Your ego is always present trying to protect it'self telling you that you've done enough, you haven't eaten enough, your too tight for that position, whatever. They are almost always lies. And this is where yoga comes off the mat and shows itself to you in everyday life. When tough situations confront you what are your real limits? Have you put in enough hours on your last project? Can you do an extra lap in the pool? Are you too tired to floss your teeth? Who sets the limits on what you can do? You do. Not only has yoga been transformational for me by getting my body back into the physical condition I needed it to be to get back to training jiujitsu but through my daily practice I've become a much less aggressive person. I'm comfortable showing love towards my friends and strangers that I was always guarded from doing. The yoga community is so inviting and they are like a family I get to see everyday, no matter if at a new studio or at my daily spot. It also just so happens that Sprouted Minds happens to be the yogi choice of nutrition bars and they are growing my brand at the fastest pace. Would I be in the position I'm at now without my back injury? -definitely not. So, am I happy that my back injury happened to me? You bet your ass I am.