I don’t remember who first told me I couldn’t do something.
But, it soon became a familiar refrain in my life.
You can’t play volleyball, Giorgia. You’re too short.
You can’t take part in the student’s exchange programme. You’re too shy to cope alone abroad.
You can’t get a waitressing job during the summer school break. You’re too weak to carry all those beer glasses on your own.
It didn’t matter what I wanted to do. There was always someone – a well-meaning relative, a worried friend, a teacher – telling me I wasn’t good enough to do something.
I believed them. How could I not? They were older and wiser. They knew me well. They’d never hurt me.
They couldn’t be wrong. I was wrong.
I took their advice. I locked my volleyball shoes away, spent my summers reading on the beach and the school years sitting at my desk, wondering what it would be like to study in England, instead.
Sometimes, when I look back, all I see is ghosts of past dreams that died too early because I was too scared to bring them to life.
The tragic part is that never had to happen.
I realised too late that when someone says you can't, what they're really saying is, I can't.
Why People Tell You: “You Can’t”
When people look at you, they’re actually looking at themselves.
They see you through their own eyes, their own beliefs and their own vision of the world.
If they think they can’t do something, they tell you no one else can.
If they believe that being an astronaut is for men and being a teacher is for women, they tell you to stop thinking about space and get a teaching degree instead.
If they tried to start a business and failed, they tell you you’ll fail, too.
They don’t mean to discourage you, insult you or hurt you. They just want to protect you from the dangers of the unknown and the pain of failure.
But in doing so, they doom you to a worse pain. The pain of mediocrity. The pain of regret.
Don’t Believe Those Who Tell You: “You Can’t”
It doesn’t matter how perfect you are or how good you become at your craft, there will always be someone out there who’ll tell you you’re not good enough to do what you want to do.
Because it’s not about you. It’s about them.
Most people have given up on their dreams before they’ve even given them a chance. Or maybe they’ve tried but gave up at the first hurdle. And now they think their limits are your limits.
It’s your job to prove them wrong.
Use all those “you can’t” and “you’re not good enough” as fuel to motivate you. Let them revive your spirit when you’re feeling down and are on the brink of giving up. Let them propel you forward when you’re feeling stuck.
If you do, you’ll be unstoppable.
I know, because I’ve been there.
Dare To Defy Them
When I decided to move to London to pursue my writing dream, everyone back home thought I was crazy. They told me writing wasn’t a job. They told me I wouldn’t make enough to pay the bills. They told me I would be back home within a month with my tail between my legs.
I looked them straight in the eyes and told them “I’m doing it, anyway.”
Because the people who change the world, who invent technologies that revolutionize the way we live, who write books that influence generations, who reach their goals and turn their dreams into a reality aren’t the ones who allow others to impose limits on them.
They are the ones who have the guts to defy those who tell them “you can’t”. They go out and do it, anyway.
Even if they don’t know how.
Even if they are scared.
Even if they the world is stacked against them.
They don’t care. They push through the limits in their own heads until the reach the stars.
It’s your turn, now.
Over to you, now. What do you believe you can’t do because someone told you so and how can you use it as fuel to motivate you to reach your goal?