Fight or Flight With #DoMode

You have two options: fight or flight. Which one will it be? I knew which one I had to choose because nothing was going to stop me from being where I wanted to be. I’m not be there yet, but as long as I stay in the #DoMode mindset I have full confidence that I can reach my dreams.

I was raised by hardworking parents and influenced by an intelligent older brother who taught me that people in our family never give up. At age 15, I was diagnosed with a mental illness called Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (Here is a quick video link to see life through my eyes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufqFO5B1vQY). It is a chronic mental disorder that is described with words like ‘debilitating’ and ‘a constant war inside a person’s mind’. I could have easily just rolled over and threw in the towel. After all, the mental pain and frustration every morning was sometimes too much to get out of bed. However, DoMode kept me focused and I kept fighting.

Find Your Family and Support System

The first step before gearing up to battle my disorder and getting into #DoMode to accomplish my ambitions was to look for people who would have my back at my worst and be there for me through the thick and thin. It isn’t easy to recognize at first but as you grow older you will start to realize who the real ones are. My family, coaches, teammates all were there for me and I just wanted to make them proud. When I wanted to quit, they kept pushing me no matter what.

My circle is small, but the loyalty and support is never even a question. I would much rather have a small tight knit family that supports my DoMode mindset than be around many fake people who give up on me when times get rough. I also got my priorities straightened out. Things such as my health, my family, my faith, school, and basketball was all I decided to worry about. I just blocked out the noise. I had caught onto the Do Mode movement, and it helped me block out the unimportant noise around me in order to get after what I really wanted.

Set Your Goals

The next step in the process for me was to set my goals. In my opinion no dream is too big to set your sights on. If somebody says your dream is too lofty or out of reach, I separate my self from them immediately. I have found those who are not in the same mindset as me are just set backs, and with enough working against me I don’t need the negativity. Basketball was my passion, even though I could barely get on the court because of all the anxiety and frustration I was dealing with my due to my chronic disorder.

However, when I became a Student Manager for the Varsity team at my high school, my dreams and aspirations came into focus after my high school coach took me under his wing and helped me paint a better picture of myself. I was on the verge of failing in school and not coming back. However, my dreams became clear and unbeknownst to me I started to develop a #DoMode mindset to keep pushing and fighting through the tough days. As I kept working with my school team I earned the title of “Director of Basketball Operations” and I had a new dream which was to someday be a College Basketball Head Coach.

Attack Your Dreams with #DoMode

Now that I had the set goal in mind, the only thing I wanted to do was chase it. I knew it wouldn’t happen overnight and that nothing worth having ever comes easy. When you get in this DoMode zone it’s hard for anything to stop you. DoMode is driven by your passions, and my passion was basketball. I was fighting to get out of bed every morning to start my day and overcome the terrible anxiety. It was therapy, medication, and hard work. I wanted it too bad though to quit. I was able to turn my life around into a positive journey. As I started improving my overall health and learned to cope with my disorder I got involved in public speaking and advocacy efforts related to OCD.

I figured, why not help others that are dealing with the same thing as me? I wanted to take all the things people looked at me negatively for and show them that I look at them as things that make me who I am and that make me stronger. As I improved, my grades improved and I applied to Siena College in Albany, NY. I wanted to be a Student Manager for the Men’s Basketball Team at whatever college I attended in hopes of continuing to climb the ladder towards my “unrealistic” dream. When I got the job with Siena Basketball, I felt like I had found a home. These coaches accepted me for who I am and for that I will be forever grateful. My path was just beginning. It was a true dream come true for me. The team became an instant family and it made me want to work even harder. There is something about surrounding yourself with people who are also in DoMode. It is a contagious feeling. I know I am the farthest thing from perfect, and that I will always have to battle my disorder but nobody will ever question my work ethic and determination. For that, I have DoMode to thank for sure. I’ve got a long way to go, but with this attitude and my support system having my back, I can overcome whatever is thrown in my way.

 

 

Thomas Smalley

Instagram: @Sma5lls

6 comments

  • FANTASTIC ARTICLE TOMMYYour words are raw, open and honest and an inspiration for all..you’ve had it “in you” all along #DOMODE just helped bring it out even more! GOD BLESS YOU

  • You are an inspiration! You are helping so many by sharing your story. Thank you and keep fighting the stigma. You are your own best advocate.

  • Thank you for sharing your story, Tommy. We’ve got your back! If there is anything we can ever do to support you or your dream, please let us know.
    Love, Your Cousins from Virginia 🙂

  • Read over your Blog several times, it is full of inspiration for all who read it. Those who have heard you speak, at your conferences were amazed, to listen to your insight of this illness. I was there.