This I Believe

May 25, 2017

“I should’ve finished school. If I was given another chance, I would be spending my time a lot more better than you.” This would be one of many things my dad would say to pierce my heart with guilt as I leisured around; letting my valuable time rot away as I denoted his words of wisdom for no more than burdensome lecture. This whole concept of work, diligence, everything that applies to it. In all honesty, I hated it. It was unattractive to me. And so despite the mistakes and consequences I've accumulated up to this point, I still find myself falling back into complacency. For many, the fear of failure keeps people from not working. The fears of not measuring up. Not being able to put food on the table. That fear is something that gets refreshed with every negative backlash that happens in the absence of action. Because of this, I believe that life is linear, full of missed and taken opportunities. This also leads me to believe that self-discipline is the most rewarding quality a person can have; the ability to persevere through the unfortunate weakness that some of us have grown accustomed to. Laziness.

In school, we do tests and assignments to gauge how much we’ve learned in a certain time frame; an exam each quarter, semester, year. Here we’re also constantly reminded that our futures, the thing we value most in the young years of our lives, are ultimately determined by the choices we make in highschool; A little cynical to say, but a system designed to scout talented scholars and weed out the ‘undesired.’ Whenever I take a test I’m not prepared for or miss an assignment, I feel that pain. I feel the guilt cut into me like a knife. “My precious GPA! My grades! My transcript! My college! My life! My success! My happiness and well-being!” Yes, that’s exactly right. I missed an opportunity that I won’t be able to take again. I might be able to learn that thing Mr.Johnson was talking about last week after the test is corrected, but it won’t count now. It’s too late. If only I grasped that concept or idea in the moment that it mattered: And this was one of the many times where my conscience would slap me after a regretful decision. This idea of limited time. Deadlines. Urgency. It essentially applies to every aspect of our human lives. Just as that paper that was due on Wednesday, we all have a due date when our time is up and the fruits of our labor are evaluated. A day when society wonders, “Who was that man? What is he going to be remembered for?”

Everyone known for being great now is ultimately a product of self-discipline. For example: professional athletes. What we see on ESPN and CBS is the glamour, the trash talk, the fame, the hype; the rewards of hard work. However what goes unseen in the public eye are the thousands of hours of tiresome labor. Going through the motions, day after day without fail; a personal feat that the public does not notice as much as the W on the scoreboard. To achieve this superhuman motivation, one has to first defeat their weaknesses no matter what it is. Be it doubt, lack of confidence or weariness; the first barrier to success is themselves. As Bruce Lee once said, “Defeat is a state of mind; No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.” Bruce Lee’s great success and reputation suggest that he understood not achieving his potential was just the same as accepting defeat.

I find it interesting that we live in a world undergoing constant dystrophy, yet inversely, our human minds work to organize it. We classify things by giving them names, differentiating between types and categories, and adding significance to them. If we quantify all of the humans on the planet relative to ourselves, we are merely one of 7.2 billion. It’s a number which seems overwhelmingly insignificant but more so, explains our innate urges to become significant. To increase our power and influence. To become our own individual. To be remembered. These are all just dreams in the minds of many and the reality of few. People like Steve Jobs, Bruce Lee and Jim Carrey. These public figures whom people look up to are just as human as they are. One of many that have existed. But the one thing that made them all stand out from average was their ability to exercise self-discipline in their craft. The most rewarding quality a person can have.

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