you can do anything

3 Ways You Can

I’m Barry, and I am an artist, a student, a son, a friend, a neighbor, I also happen to be deaf and have four fingers on each hand. I was born with Nagers Syndrome, an extremely rare syndrome that affects me with various cranial facial issues. Due to the syndrome I have had over 23 surgeries in my 20 – year life thus far, and yet I’m still on this earth. I came from a small town in North Carolina where strangers would treat me as if I were “different” or “incapable,” and yet at home my parents didn’t cut me any slack of what I could or couldn’t do. Just because I had a “disability” didn’t mean I was “disable” to live a life full of enrichment and going after a dream.

Throughout my childhood I was teased for the way I looked, my only survival was my art, in which I fell in love with art at the age of three years old. It came to a point though where I eventually ignored the inconsiderate and out-right rudeness of people’s stares or giggles at my face. As soon as I chose not to focus on the negative, positive things have come my way.  Now I am a student living my dream of having art in my everyday life, and hopefully will end up becoming a successful illustrator/fine artist down the line.

I needed to give you a background of what I was about before I discuss what I am writing about, I am talking about the word “can’t.” That word is like all of Carlin’s “Seven Words You Can’t Say On Television” rolled up into one for me. Anytime anybody says that word, I just cringe inside.  Obstacles are a part of life, whether it’s through health, relationships or jobs. Saying that you “can’t” during an obstacle doesn’t challenge you or make you grow. The great thing about humanity is that we have the constant ability to grow and flourish as well as nurture ourselves through learning.

Here are three things to do when you want to say you “can’t” do something.

  1. Find an Alternative – My parents wouldn’t cut me slack to save a life when I was a kid. With that upbringing both my Mom and Dad strived to show me that there are options in this world to complete something. If you can’t complete a task, find a new way to complete it, whether it’s through attitude or just by asking others on what they do to complete the task. One of the most beautiful and awesome things about this world is to have options.
  2. Learn – This kind of ties in with “find an alternative,” instead of giving up on something, why don’t you learn to fulfill the task in hand? When learning you broaden your span of thinking and your ability to help others.
  3. Just Change The ‘Tude Dude – I think this is the most important rule out of the three, change your attitude if you keep making excuses. Ask yourself, “Why can’t you do this?” If the answer is just something as, “I don’t know” then re-evaluate the situation and use the empowerment of your mind to push forward. Attitude is everything, if you wake up with a sloppy groggy mind; I firmly believe you in return will be sloppy and groggy throughout the rest of that day. If the situation however is more complex, write about ways you can do whatever you want to do, talk about this with the people you love, or even go and make art about your fears of why you “can’t.”

I just feel we all have the power to do anything we want to do, if we ignore our faults and learn to just push through we can achieve so much. Whether you are deaf, blind, have no arms, or you have all your arms there are really no excuses to achieving anything we want to achieve. Also next time you see somebody who may be different from you, don’t assume they “can’t” and treat them as incapable,  as humans we are all capable no matter what the circumstance.

Barry Lee is currently an illustration student in the city of Atlanta, Georgia. You can check out his work at

Image credit: ‘Self Portrait circa 2008‘ by Barry Lee

25 Responses to 3 Ways You Can

  1. Vlad Behaviour says:

    In my  opinion,instead of asking yourself: “Why can’t I do this?” regarding accomplishing particular task,I’d propose an alternative to ask:”How it can be done?or Which way it can’t be done?”.I think ,it sounds more positively.

  2. Barry Lee says:

    This is very true, I agree with you there Vlad! 

  3. Barry Lee says:

    This is very true, I agree with you there Vlad! 

  4. Coralorchid says:

    A remarkable, and inspiring story!

  5. Guest says:

    If people can’t feel inspired by your story or Scott MacIntyre’s story, I don’t know what will inspire them. There are many out there like me who are proud of you. Keep up the good work and I’ve no doubts you are going to be an excellent artist, you already are.

    -An admirer

  6. Mehdi says:

    Interseting art at the top – is that yours?

  7. Barry Lee says:

    It sure is! 

  8. Lila says:

    was a truly inspiring story. I applaud your parents for telling you that you
    had no limitations in a world that is afraid of “different”. I am
    sure your art is changing the minds of many. Keep up the good work.

  9. Demian Kasier says:

    People often don’t realize what they are given, it has to be taken away first. Don’t make excuses and just go for it.

    You have to do it with the body you got. You can’t change it, so why complain about it, it won’t change anything.

  10. Ben says:

    Hi Barry,
                    It is awesome to know that you have overcome all that and are living with art like you wanted to! :)

    The attitude is a big thing. I’ve found that letting go of the things your holding onto unconsciously.. past memories, negative emotions, patterns that aren’t serving you, your attitude naturally changes.

    Mine definately has from doing this.

    Though I am impressed with your attitude, you will go well with your art!


  11. Just change the ‘tude dude…I love that. You’re such an inspiration, Barry. I love it when someone puts a dent in the many excuses that we often use to sabotage ourselves. The truth is that few of us do all that we’re truly capable of…and it doesn’t have to be that way. Thanks so much for sharing your story and I wish you the greatest possible success as an illustrator and a person who knows that he CAN.

  12. Suzy says:

    Wow, what an inspiring story, Barry!  You tugged my heartstings.  While I wasn’t born with Nagers Syndrome, I was born with a facial birth defect (requiring 5 surgeries to “correct”) — a humongous tumor called a hemangioma.  It seriously distorted my face.  Your comments about being teased and being treated as “different” struck a familar chord with me.  I was generally greeted with pity or fear.  Or both.  Some folks wouldn’t let their kids play with me or my sister (who didn’t have the defect) because they were convinced my hideous birth defect was contagious, even when my parents presented them with proof otherwise (Hello? My sister, nor my parents, had a hemangioma, so . . . how was it contagious again?).

    Enough of that.  I just wanted to let you know why your post reverberated so strongly with me.  I am working on following my childhood passion — writing — and your post couldn’t have come at a better time!  While my parents, like yours, didn’t treat me any different than anyone else, I seem to have a knack for self-sabotage that baffles me.  I find my response to the question, “Why can’t I do [whatever it is I say I want to do]?” to often be, “I don’t know”.  Like you advised, I need to somehow empower my mind to overcome my largely self-imposted obstacles. 

    Thank you for an uplifting and inspirational post!  I truly wish you all the best.  Keep on keeping on, my friend! 

  13. Amie says:

    Your story is touching and inspirational Barry.
    Without knowing you I have an overpowering sensation of pride.
    I too have my own illness like many, but with great
    Heart warming, Nobel articles such as this, encourages
    Me never to give up. Your truly a very talented individual
    In both your artwork and your outlook on everything.

  14. Anonymous says:

    This is a WONDERFUL story and lesson, Barry. Thank you!

  15. Susan says:

    You make us proud we love you!

  16. debi says:

    Barry,  I don’t know which I like more:  your writing or your art.  In a world where so many “normal” kids are wasting their time and talent on useless activities, I am so impressed with your drive and attitude.   I do believe this world wouldn’t be such a mess if everyone had your can-do attitude and open mind.  Blessings on your journey!

  17. Barry Lee says:

    Thanks you guys for all of your comments! I will for sure be writing some more stuff in the future so stay tuned. I really appreciate all of the comments.

    – Bary

  18. Olivia Fry says:

    Very inspiring, I woke up thinking to myself how burned out I am, and how I don’t think I’ll make it through finals week, but now I feel ready to get some work done!  Also, Barry, I looked at your website, and your art is phenomenal! 

  19. Pingback: Making Can out of Can’t | Goal Setting Workshop

  20. Brandy says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story!  I love excuse busters and this particular one is pretty awesome.  :)

  21. shubham kale says:

    the second tip is best. if you think you can’t do that then learn that. its a tendency of human being. 
    for developing life skills: 

  22. I love the way you write and also the theme on your blog.

  23. Lucy Toretos says:

    really interesting ,promise to visit you everyday

  24. Will Wanht says:

    Yes, positive thoughts in many ways. nice article in here. thank you for posting it.

  25. Short Hair Salons says:

    Great post about 3 Ways You Can

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