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The Warrior Within by Shawn Brooks

Adversity is something we all face in life; no matter how big or small, we must find a way to overcome it. I want to share some of the adversities I’ve overcome and how my actions of persistence may also help you.
First, a little about me. I am a professional Mixed Martial Artist, a prior United States Marine, a brother, a son, an uncle, and a cousin to many. These titles help describe my past, present, and future. Through these titles, I found my purpose, my reason, my why.
I came from a broken family. At the age of 6, my mother lost custody of 4 of my 5 siblings and myself. My oldest sibling has lived with my grandparents since birth. Though this situation was unfortunate, it is one of the driving forces for who I am today.
Seeing my family broken, my mother, siblings, and I in despair caused me to lose my childhood at a young age. Fortunately, 3 of my 4 siblings were united with their fathers. Not too long after being placed in foster care, my second to youngest sister and myself remained together for some time. Eventually, she was adopted by one of our foster families. Still, I remained in foster care until I aged out and eventually enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.
My decision to join the Marine Corps was influenced by 3 key factors: my grandfather and his honorable service in Vietnam, my grit, and my love. For me, joining the Corps is one of the more extraordinary accomplishments in my life and yet one of my biggest regrets.
I was too impressionable. I lacked guidance from any singular, powerful role model. Instead of enlisting in full duty, I decided to join the Reserves. Nonetheless, I still believe everything happens for a reason. Besides, I might not be here today if I joined full duty.
In the Corps, I found what I was born to do, born to be. I am a warrior and a fighter. I wasn’t born in the bronze age or a time of sword and shield, but fortunately, with the rise of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), I am offered an outlet to live my true passion.
During Bootcamp, I was introduced to the glory of hand-to-hand combat. That is where my spark was ignited. You see, when you find a dream or have a dream, you must feed it. This is easier said than done. With the responsibilities that come with adulthood, most people tend to put their dreams on a shelf, and on that shelf is where those sparks die out.
Imagine your dream as a bright flourishing flame. This flame will stay alive for as long you feed it. How do you feed it? That is one of the most straightforward questions you’ll ever answer; however, one of the hardest to ever commit to. You feed this flame through sheer effort, hard work, and discipline. Whether your dreams are big or small, they will require effort and sacrifice.
My dream is to be one of the greatest mixed martial artists to have lived. I thought because of my physical abilities and talent, I would succeed. I was wrong. Reaching my dream requires more sacrifice than I expected. It requires minutes, hours, days, late nights, and early mornings of continuous work.
You might lose friends, miss holidays, birthdays, celebrations of life. You will have to give up the comforts of the now to achieve a greater life tomorrow. This will become exhausting, especially when you have setbacks, injuries, or a pandemic. Everyday life will provide you with many excuses to simply quit and put your dream on that shelf. Some of those reasons may be valid.
People will understand, but can you live with calling it quits? Did you come this far to only get this far? It is perfectly fine to look at your journey and appreciate where you are versus where you began. Sometimes you’ll shoot for the stars and land somewhere in the clouds. Is that ok? Yes, yes, it is… if you can look back and say you gave it your all and made all the sacrifices you could. As long as you give your greatest effort, it is ok to not achieve your dreams.
When I’m exhausted with it all, I remind myself that nothing in this world worth having comes easy. The world doesn’t owe me a thing no matter how hard the circumstances; the world gave me life, and it is my life’s purpose to make the best of it.
How do you want to be remembered? The hardest part is getting there. Winners show up, so it’s up to you to keep showing up. Learn to love the process.
Almost a decade into my career, I’m still barely scratching the surface of my dream. What drives me to continue is the memory of those who came before me, the faces of those who came after me, and the support from those who have been with me since the beginning.
One day your story will be told. Perhaps it is one of overcoming adversity and an unbreakable will, and it will bring a smile to the faces of those that learn about you and your dreams. ❦

About Shawn Brooks

Shawn Brooks is a professional mixed martial artist from the state of Maryland. He currently trains and fights for Team Kaizen MMA located in Virginia.
Outside of fighting and training, Shawn also works as a Matterport technician which helped pique his interest in investing in real estate. When he’s not spending countless hours in the gym training himself and or others, he enjoys spending time with his family and pursuing his hobbies. Shawn’s hobbies include a passion for anime, poker, fishing, and traveling when the opportunities present. As someone who has been through quite the ordeal both in his fighting career and personal life, he always does his best to help those around him of any age and in any manner of life.

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