May 16, 2012

“Now I am the voice, I will lead not follow, I will create not destroy, I will believe not doubt, I am a force for good, I am a force for God, I am a leader, Defy the odds, Set a new standard, Step up!” I can still perfectly in-vision Dad reading me and my sisters this Tony Robbin’s chant during car rides. My Dad had recently started his own business and used the motivational techniques of Tony to get “pumped up”; it drove Mom crazy that He would spend so much money on plane tickets and conventions. Tony’s “Unleash the Power Within” CDs would consistently play in our car. With ease I can replay the recordings in my head, the voice coming from the CD played a profound figure in my childhood. While the meaningless physical memory was so clearly engraved by age 10, the emotional impact of the speaker didn’t reveal itself to me until much later.

My second cousin was the one who got my dad into all this Tony Robbins Nonsense. She is a very wealthy single women living in Boston. She is very into self-analysis and improvement, and always encouraged the same from all of us. For my 16th birthday present she bought me a ticket to see Tony Robbins for four days in New Jersey.

It was March 16th, 2009, and in a room of 10,000 people I felt completely alone. Such a feeling was understandable because I did not know anyone. I was cold, the auditorium completely concrete, the smell was raw. I can still feel my discomfort. The woman talking to me had her floor length dread locks pulled up in a cloth wrap. All I can remember is thinking about how I needed to get out of here. I should have known I would be surrounded by earthy-crunchy lunatics. Everyone I had met at this point was sure to tell me that Tony Robbins had changed their outlook on life (via car CD-ROM). I was too normal for this.  These people were WACK JOBS. Like most 16 year old girls, I had my hair straightened and was wearing Abercrombie and Fitch. I’m not the type to be there, I don’t belong at motivational seminars, but luckily I spotted a very cute boy that looked about my age.

When they allowed general admission to enter everyone rushed to get the seat closest to the stage. Being someone who came alone, I could have pushed my way to the front to get a better view quite easily. I didn’t rush nearer to the speaker but instead sat directly next to the boy I had eyed across the room before. I believe my motivation for doing so was the sense of normality and youth coming from the pair, a safe haven from the unknown I feared, despite the fact that they were complete strangers; not to mention they were extremely attractive.

I held out my hand and introduced myself. In return I received a firm, mature handshake. He is beautiful. His name is Jake, he tells me in a thick accent that was unrecognizable to me. Jake tells me that he is from Portland, Oregon. Jake had been to this seminar a year prior with his father; he came with a friend named Nick. I took an immediate liking to Jake; he had beautiful brown almond shaped eyes and muscular arms. Initially I was looking for people my age to sit with, it became clear that was not what I found. I lied about my age to everyone that day. I had just turned 16 a few weeks prior to this event, and wanted to be taken seriously. Therefore- for the rest of the time I was 17.5 ( I thought it’d be a good idea to be just under “legal”….lol?). Regardless he was closer in age to me then anyone else within view, so I was more then content with the friend I had made.

When the audience settled and Tony first arrived on stage he immediately set out to remove us of our comfort zones. His way is not a gentle push, but a force of direction that makes you feel uncomfortable and violated. Eventually you realize you are one of ten thousand people engaging in the same activities (Jump up and down, give the person to your right a back massage, dance like Shakira, moo like a cow), doing the rituals he ordered causes the abandonment of your physical comfort zone. The purpose of these exercises being Tony’s end belief; in order to get inner self-analysis you need to first break through your skin. I reluctantly joined in, laughing along the way with Jake, who at age 21 was much more into the process then I was.

The financial expense of the seminar reveals the seriousness and dedication of the audience. I was a sixteen year old who would have preferred a gift of UGG boots as opposed to all this craziness, but in the midst of my need to impress the boy next to me I made the efforts to understand the concepts that were brought before me.

Now what you need to understand is that this whole Tony Robbins experience is supposed to change your life, you do things that break your comfort zone, give strangers shoulder rubs, dance around like whatever animal he tells you to, he wants to break you.

We were told to create lists, first of things we love about our lives and ourselves. After, we were asked to share our lists with the person next to us; had I realized the task at hand I may have censored my list. I handed over my notebook to Jake; he does the same. My mind rushing with concerns about what he is thinking while reading my list, I remember the waiting process more than the reading. The response was a look that lacked any judgment, one that surprisingly resembled admiration. Because of the reaction I received, the next task, which was to write a list of things we want to change about ourselves and our lives I remained honest. I revealed my insecurities regarding my physical appearance, pain caused by difficult breakups, troubled relationships and uncertainties regarding school as well as my future. Tony directed us to hand our lists to the same person as before. Though the pit in my stomach stood still, I made an effort to take in Jake’s list; provided this was his experience also, and my undeniable curiousness. His list was much more “serious” then my own; crushed by the failure of a long-term relationship he expected to end in marriage, being forced to drop out of college because of financial situations; and therefore having to quit college baseball, a lifelong dream of his. His overall feeling of emptiness caused by lack of education and the end of what he thought was his lifetime love affair. His problems put mine to shame. I felt guilty feeling bad for myself.

Tony asks us our ultimate goals in life, what is it we want? My former plans for the future now mean nothing to me. In the course of three years there has been a complete turn around, I know I said I wanted a happy relationship, I wanted to quit my part time job, I wanted to travel but the rest is a blur of what was apparently unimportant to me. Jake wanted to go back to school, quit his waiter job, and cut off ties with his ex. I am told that the things I hate about myself are what is holding me back from doing whatever I want in life, that I am the only one to control what happens to me, and my fears and insecurities are the sole reason I haven’t accomplished everything I desire. I feel as though I learned everything there was to know about a person in under three hours, I could tell you the route of his pride and the cause of his fears. The bond we formed was inevitable, both of us being completely open with one another. My attention span was pathetic, how much I got out of the speaker is debatable. Much of the seminar is a complete blur to me; the aspects regarding healthy lifestyles and financial security didn’t phase me. Instead I spent the hours trying to take in the situation at hand, the feelings I was starting to develop, and the cost of plane tickets to Oregon.

At the end of the first night, we were told to walk over a bridge of hot coals, these coals were to represent mind over matter; defying the odds you set for yourself to pursue your dreams. We had “fire-walking” partners. We were directed to find someone that we had connected with throughout the first day, Jake chose me. So together, we walked over hot coals, which was supposed to represent “facing our fears”. Afterwards he got my number- appropriate.

By the third day it was clear that there was a connection between us. The barriers were broken he knew everything about me and I knew everything about him. We end up holding hands by the end of the night’s seminar.. and we end up hooking up back at the hotel in the hot tub. I thought we were going “swimming”? Mind you- I had JUST turned 16 but I told him I was almost 18

Days go by and we engage in more self-analysis. I watch my own emotional wall fall down for Jake. There is no image more vivid in my mind than the look in his eyes and the feeling of his hands on mine. It was that of pure admiration. Here is someone who knows all your fears, faults and past, just met you, and sees all your good over the bad. For the first time in my life, I felt completely comfortable with myself. Here was a person I had been completely honest with, now he knew me inside and out, and showed me nothing but love. The fact that anyone can look at me the way he did, knowing all my faults and failures, gave me unbreakable confidence. I no longer felt the need to change myself for other people. I realized I was in complete control of my life, if someone else could accept me then I could accept myself; it was self-awareness through self-analysis. If you have the energy to wish for it, you have the energy to pursue it without doubt or hesitation.

I didn’t have a miserable job to quit, or an abusive relationship to abandon. Much of the audience had experienced a traumatic realization that led them to Tony in the first place.  I was a sixteen year-old girl and one of the youngest in the stadium. I realize now how lucky I am to have been given the opportunity to analyze myself at a young age.  It takes total vulnerability to make a total change. If I hadn’t spotted Jake across the room that day I may have never met a person who helped me change my own life. It was him that made my experience. How seriously he took the process forced me to see the difference Tony’s techniques make in people’s lives by seeing them take effect on someone who truly needed them.

Upon leaving the convention I was convinced I had found and lost my one great love. Jake also saw our story this way, still convinced to this day we’ll be together eventually. When we said goodbye, he promised that someday he’d “see me again”, but that seemed to be unrealistic.

-Fast forward a few days and his ex girlf adds me on Facebook

  • She realizes that I am in fact a sophomore in high school and inevitably tells him.

  • He confronts me about it. I tell him the truth. Luckily, he says that hes glad i lied to him because if i had told him my age from the beginning he’d probably never let himself get that close to me but that i was mature for my age and even though age usually matters for some reason it didn’t with me

But I was still a child. I was mature for my age, sure, but I was still a child. I was obsessed with Jake. I thought that he was my one true love and I was to marry him and I had lost out on that one person I was supposed to be with. Part of me even wished he would move to Boston for me, I don’t think that was even remotely realistic but I was young and thought I was in love. I would tell everyone and anyone about him, I thought my story was incredible. I actually to this day believe that Tony Robbins did change my life, but not in the way it was supposed to. Suddenly I felt invincible. I realized that I can be anyone, anything. As humans we are all born with the same senses and abilities and although some have their challenges, we all have the potential to make something of ourselves. I will never again settle for average, I will never put a cap on all the things I can do.

We talked every day for awhile, and then stopped for awhile about two years ago, when I was in a serious relationship. About a year ago we talked again and he told me that he’s always dreamed about being with me and thought about what things would be like if we lived near each other. I had always thought the same, it was nice to know that I wasn’t crazy or alone. He told me that i was always in the back of his mind and the reason he found it really hard to commit to other girls because he always felt like we were meant to be together.

It was always in the back of my head that I would be with Jake someday. I applied to a school (with a free application) in Portland, thinking maybe it’d be a possibility, someday. Every time someone would mention Oregon I’d light up, I’d say how i’ve “always wanted to live in Portland”, and I would someday.

A few months ago I was in a smoking room at a nice club in Boston. I start a casual conversation with a guy smoking a cigarette. He tells me he is from Portland Oregon and that he is 22. My eyes widen and I ask him what high school he went to- I was a little buzzed and didn’t realize at the time just how many schools there probably were. He tells me he went to Cleveland High School. Jake went to Cleveland High School. I asked if he knew him and he told me he didn’t know much just that he was a baseball player and very good. Small world. I told Jake about this and it sparked up more conversation for the next couple of months to come. Of course, we live nowhere near each other so the texting and chatting was sparse, as one would assume.

We’ve always talked about me visiting and he has offered to pay half my ticket, but i’ve never really had the money and its never really been possible. Same goes with him though, i’ve always told him to come to boston but hes like a brain scanner psych doctor thingy and has his own business so it was never really a possibility.

However, we’re talking last night and he told me that he has an opportunity to come to boston, he found a ticket for only $400 and can leave work for a little while. I told him to go for it! Although, I thought it wasn’t actually going to happen, its been three years, why now? I thought that he was kidding, but he sent me a picture of his confirmation e-mail. The boy I told all my friends i’d marry when I was 16 years old is flying across the country to see me over three years later. This is why I’m writing a blog now, because there is a point where “unreal” becomes a little more then a story to tell your friends.


Have you heard of tony robbins?

Or, Have you seen the movie shallow hal?



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