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Do Hard Things!
Have you ever wanted to give up after something got to difficult? I sure have. "Never give up, never surrender." That’s a famous quote from a movie called "Galaxy Quest" that I like to use when I think about quitting all because it’s to hard to do. Now you may be thinking, "wow, that’s really silly", but listen to a few of my examples of how I almost quit, and then you'll see the benefits by not quitting. If I had quit from these experiences I wouldn't be the same person I am today.
Now, when I say I wouldn't be the same person as I am today, I mean talented wise. These three pieces of my life have helped me see what I’m good at. Let's talk about quitting real quickly. When you quit, you'll never want to try anything new, and it can also keep you from exceeding to excellence. When you're faced with a choice to do something you may say to yourself, "why would I ever want to do that, I'll just fail at it." So, to keep you from thinking that let’s jump into three of my own experiences.
Let's go back 2 and half years ago when I was just at the age of 11. I was in sixth grade and it was testing day in band class. I play the French horn--a very neat instrument in my opinion. You maybe wondering what KIND of test is this? Well, let me tell you, this wasn’t just an ordinary kind of paper and pencil test; this was a "playing" test. In this kind of test, I had to play my music that I was given to practice for. Now, I had never played my music in front of a whole class by myself before because I had just started band for the first year, so you could imagine how scared I was to perform.
It was just about two weeks before Christmas break and if we wanted to be in the Christmas concert, we would have to get an A, or B on all of our Christmas music (about 4 pieces of music). As I walked into my band room, a smell of oil and brass met my nose as soon I walked through the front door, as it usually did. As I entered, I made my way to the back of the band room where the lockers for our instruments were located. After I grabbed my French horn, I then went to my seat in the second row of chairs. After we had warmed up, testing started. I started to squirm in my seat. Oh man! I'm so nervous, what am I going to do! I had practiced a lot, but still wasn’t ready. When my buddy next to me had finished playing, there were a few moments of silence, and then I heard those horrible words from my band director’s mouth. “Ok Marcus, you’re up.”
As I looked around my classroom one last time before I went to play, my friends whispered to me “good luck”, I chuckled to myself, Yea...I’m going to need it. Then I was off, playing away at one of my four pieces of music...then the second one...then the third...and then finally the fourth. After I was done, my heart was pumping so hard with embarrassment and I could start to feel tears weld up in my eyes, because I had messed up SO badly, and all I could do was wait for my official scores the following day.
Later that day as I was walking up my hill from my bus stop, I couldn’t believe how bad I felt. I was quite scared to tell my parents how I did on my playing test that day, but my conscience told me to anyways. I decided to tell my mom after dinner, and after I was done explaining, I said to her that I wanted to quit band, but boy did she sure have words to tell me, and to this day I’m very glad she did. If I had quit I wouldn’t have gotten to do all those exciting band opportunities later in my life. It turned out to not so bad after all!
Let’s jump into memory two when we got our first Ping-Pong table. “Hey dad, what are you doing?” I asked.
My dad replied by saying, “Oh yes, I'm ordering a ping pong table.” My eyes got wide at the sound of that, we had always talked about getting one, but I never thought so soon.“Really? Oh man I’m happy!” I said excitedly.
“I’d knew you would be,” my dad replied. When my dad finished placing the order he told me it would take three weeks to arrive. When I heard THAT news, I got depressed and thought to myself, THREE WEEKS! How am I ever going to last that long!
Then three (long) weeks later as I was walking home from school, I was approaching my house, and behold sitting inside my garage was a beautiful sight. “Well, there it is,” I said to myself. “The ping pong table.” As I raced inside my house, I went straight up to my dad and asked him, “when can we set the ping pong table up?”
My dad thought about it and then answered, “How about after dinner?”
“Sounds great,” I replied. Later that night after we had successfully set up the Ping-Pong table, my dad and I both grabbed a paddle and started playing one of my favorite games...or so I thought.
After a few games, I told my dad, “I don’t like this game very much, I just can’t seem get the hang of it.”
“Well son, that’s because you’re not as experienced as I am,” my dad said.
“Well, I guess you’re right.” As the days went on, I kept playing and playing, but just couldn’t do it. I was down in the dumps for a while because I couldn't play the way I wanted to. That’s when I got frustrated and quit playing…but only for a while.
If my dad hadn’t come up and told me, “The only way you’ll ever get better is if you practice, not by giving up.”
I replied with saying a simple “Alright,” and kept playing. To sum up all that happened after that, well...let’s just say because I didn’t quit, I got really good at Ping-Pong, and have now learned to really appreciate, and enjoy the sport.
Now as I conclude with my third, and last memory, let’s end with a somewhat interesting topic. Car washing. Yep, you read that right, car washing. Three years ago when I lived in Fayetteville, NC, our red Honda Minivan needed a good cleaning, but as you see, I HATED washing cars, hated it. So, when my dad came to my big brother Gary and I, and said that we have to wash the car, I was like, Uhhhhhh...I really don’t want to, anything but car washing. Nope, there’s no way to get out of it, it was one of our chores we had to do. We went outside to my driveway to get bucket of water ready, after I got the hose out, I started filling up the bucket full of soap and water. Then we started to wash the dirty red car.
I had been assigned to wash the sides of the car. After I had finished the first side of the car, my brother came over and inspected what I had thought I had cleaned well. “What is this!” he said with annoyance.
“What do you mean,” I replied confused. I thought I had done a pretty good job on it, but what my brother said next told me otherwise.
“No no no,” he said. You have to scrub harder, there’s still dirt on the side of the car.
I replied with annoyance, “Well, I tried my best!” What else do you want?” At this point I started getting mad...really mad.
“Well try harder and do a better job,” my brother said.
“IF YOU DON’T LIKE THE WAY I DO IT, THEN DO IT YOURSELF!” I practically yelled. With that last remark I left my brother by himself, and stomped right up to my door to my house to go inside, and then up to room where I fell on my bed to start playing Angry Birds, because of course...I was angry.
Later that night my dad came up to my room, and talked to me about what happened. After I had finished telling the whole story, he told me what my punishment would be. My punishment turned out to be that the next time our car needed washed, I would have to do it all by myself because I left my brother with the job of cleaning the car by himself.
I still may not like car washing, but after being told to do it for some years now, I’ve become good at it and strive to do the best I can. In this situation, I may not have had the choice to quit car washing or not, but if I did, I probably would’ve never learned how to correctly wash a car. That meant that when I owned a car someday, I wouldn't be able to take care of it properly and it would make my image look bad to other people. So, something as little as car washing can still have a big impact on your life.
Why should you never give up when things start getting hard? Now of course, there will plenty of times where you may really want to quit, it’s unavoidable, but take my advice, don’t. In every tough situation you may come across, you yourself will most likely always have the final choice in whether you want to give up, or continue to do great things. Who knows, you may really become good at something that you once hated at one point in your life. The only way to find out is to not quit in the first place. Remember, do hard things.
As I think back to my three life experiences I’ve learned that giving up at something difficult is never the answer, you’ll never want to try anything new again. Since I didn’t give up, I can do amazing things, and I know you can too if you try. When things start getting difficult, always remember this quote, “Never give up, never surrender.”