Leveling Up: “Never Have I Ever” with Kimrey Tefft

Never have I ever.

Have you played that game? I love watching celebrities on talk shows – Jimmy Fallon or Ellen asking people about their life experiences. 

Personally, I don’t play a lot. I have some experiences that aren’t that funny. I don’t play because I always imagined that somehow somebody is recording it for the late night news, and I’m going to humiliate myself.

I woke up today and all I could think of was “Never have I Ever”. So, at the risk of disclosing more than I should, here goes. 

Never did I ever think I’d be speaking in public because it’s my biggest fear. Then suddenly I was doing it for a living for the last 20 years.

Never did I ever when I was a kid think that my parents would divorce. They did. My biological parents separated when I was really young and my mom was awesome. So I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

Never did I ever think that my father would get killed in an on-the-job accident when I was 13, and I’d have to go to his funeral and meet this whole other side of the family that I didn’t know. I’d never get the chance to talk to him and ask him questions or just get to know him. 

Never did I ever think that I would actually meet Dean Smith. I did in New Jersey – is was one of the greatest moments of my life. 

Never did I ever think that I would get that degree from UNC Chapel Hill. I did.

Never did I ever think that my best friend would commit suicide by shooting herself. If happened after we had just had a wonderful trip together about a month before in Washington DC. 

Never did I ever think that my brother would be murdered at 18, four weeks after my wedding. He walked me down the aisle. It one of the greatest days of my life, soon to be followed by one of the greatest tragedies.

Never did I ever think that my my mom would fall into such a deep depression that she wouldn’t be able to see me or my sister. The grief was so strong and so powerful. She had been such a strong, vivacious woman my whole life.

Never did I ever think that I would lose all my grandparents before I was 22 years old – holding my grandma’s hand watching her wither away before I graduated from college. She wasn’t going to see her first grandchild graduate from college. That was kind of a bummer.

Never did I ever think that I’d be the victim of domestic violence as a young person in my early 20s. My boyfriend in college came over to my apartment, brought a gun, came inside and proceeded to tear things up – including me. I never thought I’d be laying on the floor, suffering damage to my ribs because from someone’s boots. That’s real.

Never did I ever think that my dad would disappear. He would leave the country without telling us, leaving us searching for years. 

Never did I ever think that I would get that phone call that my father had killed himself in Barbados. I would need to orchestrate getting him back to the United States and planning a funeral.

Never did I ever never did I ever think I’d be divorced.

Bad things do happen to good people.

This is Our Journey

I’m sharing this, because I’ve had so many conversations over the last weeks with colleagues, clients, employers, employees of some of your businesses that are hurting. There are so many people thinking – I’m not going to be able to pay my bills and what if I can’t get my job back.

What if all these things that I built over my entire life are just going to go away?

Never did I ever think that this would happen?

Yes, this is happening because this is our journey. I never thought I could survive any of those things. These things that I mentioned are tragedies that popped up over the course of my journey. You’ve had things pop up in your journey too. It’s your journey. This is when you realize what you’re made of.

One of the toughest lessons I learned is that you can’t do it alone. You can’t just stay together and think oh, I’ll just reach way down deep into that well again, and pull something out or pull something off.

This time you might have to ask for help. Understand that this is part of your journey.

Simon Sinek is one of the greatest thought leaders in my opinion of our time. He talks about this infinite game that we’re all still playing. The world didn’t stop turning when my brother died, when my best friend died, when my father disappeared, when he died, or when my mom was here physically, but wasn’t here mentally. You know, nothing stopped going. I didn’t stop going, you can’t stop going, you’ve got to get up.

These trials are building and strengthening the fiber of your being. You’re going through something because you were designed to help other people get through it.

It’s still happening, and they’ll continue to happen. Be strong. Reach out knowing that everyone is on their own journey. You put one foot in front of the other, take one little step. 

Leveling Up

What have you been through? Tell me tell me about a time when you mustered up something that you just didn’t think you could do, but you did it. I’m going to give you some resources to help get you there. Those are private conversations.

Every time you went through those things that you thought you couldn’t get through, or did things that you thought you couldn’t do, it was an opportunity to level up. 

Let’s level up. We’re leveling up right now. If you don’t know who you are and what you’re about.

People see the outside of us. They see us acting joyful and happy and looking like everything is fine. But behind the scenes, there’s so much that we just don’t know.

Life. I haven’t talked about it because I didn’t think it’d be very interesting to you. You have your own stuff to deal with. You don’t need my stuff on top, but we all deal with stuff. Life is messy, humans are messy. I rarely goes the way we thought – living the fairytale.

I believe the fairy tale becomes real when you become accepting of all that you can’t control.

The world opens up for you. You suddenly begin to realize what you are made of and what you’re capable of. You figure out that all of these things happening to you, are what make you – you. Challenges help us to become more and more of what we already were. We’re capable. We’re resilient. We’re filled with deep dark secrets that make us awesome. 

Don’t give up.

Level up.

I love you.