Stale Content Alert!
This post was written a long time ago, and my views have almost certainly evolved since then. Please keep that in mind while reading, commenting, or sharing.
O, my Brothers and Sisters—
What has become of us?
Generations before us strove for excellence. Our great-grandparents lived through two of the most massive wars in history as well as the Great Depression, and still pulled through to keep our nation alive. Our grandparents survived the Vietnam War and launched men into space, a concept never before even conceived of as possible. Our parents saw the rise of ever-increasingly powerful computers. The generations before us faced terrible challenges, yet not only pulled through, but were able to contribute immensely to the building of our modern world today.
I write about this because something is growing increasingly obvious with each passing day. Put simply, our generation is afraid to try.
I see this every day in school, both in myself and in others. We have grown noticeably reluctant to take risks or try things. We all live in our own self-shaped worlds, and rarely actually come out. We are afraid to take risks, because it means stepping out of our safe haven for a moment and risking failure.
We view failure as a bad thing, because it can hurt us. What if we pour our energy, our soul out, and get nothing in return? Then we feel as if we have accomplished nothing, and all was in vain. Better, you think, to simply not try and not lose.
When you pour your energy out into one cause, you dedicate yourself to it. You get the thrill, the experience of being that cause and aligning with it. Even if you do not “win”, per se, you have already achieved something. For a moment, you were alive and feeling. Yes, you felt.
We cloister ourselves up so that we don’t feel. People can be given medications that regulate chemicals in their brain so that the lows they feel are lessened, with the unfortunate side effect of lessening the highs as well. We do this to ourselves without drugs. We may feel mild happiness, or mild unhappiness, but as long as we’re safe in our shells, we sacrifice the risk of feeling truly wonderful and alive for the “privilege” to not feel the intensely negative. Feeling pain and sorrow may be hard, but it’s also an important part of life. To avoid it is like holing yourself up in your house because it’s possible it could rain outside. The rain will get you wet, sure. But it can also be one of the most refreshing things to happen to you, if you let it.
But there is something that scares us more than failing. It’s succeeding.
If we take a risk and succeed, we are vaulted into a world unlike the one we were in before. We have set higher expectations. The expectations aren’t things we can’t do–we’ve already proven we can meet, if not exceed them–the trouble is that they’re constant expectations. If we do great things, we’re expected to regularly do good things. This requires more of our energy and more of our awareness. Instead of taking this risk, most of us avoid it by committing to the philosophy of “Good enough.”
“Good enough” is not good enough.
We are capable of greatness. Don’t you dare try to tell me otherwise. There is a potential for greatness inside each and every one of us. Unfortunately, most of us have left it untapped, because the only outcome of doing well, as we see it, is a higher expectation and more energy and awareness. We don’t even regard the concept that doing well is rewarding in its own right. We completely blow over the fact that very many good things could come of doing well. No, the only result that comes of doing great things is more work for ourselves.
My brothers and sisters, in only a few years, our generation will control the world. But if we don’t start realizing our potential and fulfilling it… what a sad, desolate world we’re going to live in. There will always be risks to take. If very few people take risks, then very few things will get accomplished.
Not only does the “Good enough” philosophy cheat our world in the long run, it cheats you, as well. By giving minimal effort so as to avoid failure, you are severely depriving yourself of what makes life interesting. So what if you might get hurt? Pain is going to come in life. It is inevitable. Life is in dealing with the negative, not avoiding it.
You only live once. This is the only life that you can be absolutely, positively certain that you’ll get. Why waste your time here cheating yourself of what life offers? Take risks. Give your fullest.
Who knows–you might be surprised at what you really can do.