We live life trying to make it as easy as possible, just to hear clichés saying how nothing in life worthwhile comes easy. Funny thing is that both of these statements, while contradicting each other, hold a lot of truth together. But depending where in life a person is, people can see these statements very differently.
A common theme in life I seem to notice growing up is that you have to encounter some sort of struggle before reaching success. I saw this theme in countless examples in the sports world. As a kid in Chicago I was fully aware of the wars Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant and others battled through with the Bad Boys, the Detroit Pistons. While Jordan seem to score at will even against the Pistons at times, him and the rest of the Bulls couldn’t defeat their nemesis for 3 straight years in the playoffs. So watching the tears from Bulls’ players falling as they won their first championship in LA was more than gratifying as a fan let alone for the players themselves. Athletes who have the privilege of winning multiple rings often say the first one was the sweetest. And I can understand why.
There’s a certain level of appreciation people can (and should) have when they finally obtained something after a struggle. And this theory can apply to almost anything. For example, I love video games. Always have, always will. Growing up in the 90s I was a victim of playing some of the hardest games EVER!!! I loved going over to my grandma’s house to play the game with my cousins because they had ever game I wanted but didn’t have. It was a common rule that we must play games at the very least on the Hard difficulty level. They felt that was the only way you can only get better. That also lead to countless gaming sessions where my thumbs and ego were hurt. But their theory in retrospect proved to be right in many ways. After Mario dying countless times, millions of jump shots rejected, passes intercepted, and suffering a plethora of fireballs from both Ken & Ryu I became a better gamer. In many ways I had to become better because the word “quit” had no impact on us. So that meant when I was down 59-28 in the 2rd of a NBA Jam game I had to continue my humiliating loss. If I thought about uttering the words “I Quit”, that meant I would no longer play the game for the rest of my visit. This proves tough love can be applied to any area of life (including numerous Nintendo systems).
This tough love is what makes me appreciate not only the victories I do and will have but the struggles as well. It’s easy in society today to place blame anywhere else but on ourselves if we choose to. What’s also easier nowadays is for people to enable others to feel this way. The shift/placement of responsibilities at times is mind-boggling really especially once we get older and realize how much we did this when younger (or sadly how we still do it at times). I’m always tickled at seeing people who love being “the victim”. These are people who continue to put themselves in situations where they know (or I think they know) they’ll be hurt and then can bask in the amount of pity and condolences others will send their way. Every once in awhile we all need some assistance and pep-talk to get through stuff times, but not all the time. Back to the video game analogy, you can only play a game at easy or normal for so long before it gets boring and doesn’t challenge you anymore. And quite frankly even when you beat games on that level it feels cheap because you wasn’t pushed as hard as you could have been. The day I defeated M. Bison on the hard difficulty was one of the greatest experiences I had in my life up until that time. It was a euphoric joy that was great while it lasted until I wanted to do it again with another fighter. I wanted to challenge myself now by using a fighter I normally didn’t use to experience that same joy again but even greater now. The drive to improve upon earlier success is crucial to being successful however you define it.
All of these things are becoming more prevalent than ever with me graduating from college. My undergrad experience was many things and taught me a lot. It taught me that the tough love my parents give me was for a reason. Are there times I still think it wasn’t the best method for certain things, of course. But I have a greater appreciation for why they chose that method. For all the times I fall short I have to first look at what I did for this outcome to happen. While having a fear of failure isn’t the funnest character trait to have, I can still make it work to my advantage. it can motivate me that much more to not settle and thrive harder when I don’t want to. Do I fall short of doing these things at times, sure. And while it can say something about a person who keeps getting knocked down, it says more even about the person who continues to get up (I’m sure someone said that before so I’m not claiming any copyrights on that!).