Ambition, hard work, success. All these great, exciting words.
Why is it all so elusive?
Me and big ideas – we work really well in the honeymoon stage. New notebook, new pens, a plan. There is nothing more invigorating for me than the night before I plan to do something. In that moment, emotions are running high, I am so unbelievably motivated and excited.
Then, I wake up in the morning.
Suddenly, there is nothing less inspiring than whatever it is that I need to get done. In the moment that I decide I want to do something, I really truly do want to do it. When it comes to actually doing it, I look at the path I have to take to get there, and it’s riddled with pot holes. It is covered in anxiety and situations in which I will have to leap out of my comfort zone. It is filled with things I have no idea how to do.
That is when I lose my resolve.
It’s not that I want the end result any less, but the time, patience, and good old hard work it will take to get there makes it all seem much less glamorous.
In school, I was the master of getting away with things. I worked to make things easier for myself then, not realizing how much harder things would be later without the skill of working hard.
You know in the movies, when time is passing, years maybe, and the character is killing it? Working long hours to get the promotion, isolating themselves so that they can ace the test, etc. Movie-makers always put those scenes into a fast-paced montage, speeding through a lifetime of hard, hard work.
I always love those scenes. They’re so satisfying. They’re so fast.
Movies can not make rags-to-riches stories without these scenes because it is impossible for riches to come from rags without hard work.
Yet, they must make these scenes fast-paced and exciting – because hard work is ugly. Nobody wants to see it. Nobody wants to think about it.
I am privileged. I have everything I need. I have enough basic skills for me to hold down a job. I don’t suffer from any major physical or mental difficulties, thank G-d. I have a loving and supportive family. I have people who believe in me, people who love me, people who look out for me.
Yet, hard work is my biggest challenge. Persevering and pushing through, even when I am handed all the tools, is my biggest road block in achieving my goals.
Then there are those who have nothing that I have.
They build futures out of the sand, they craft homes out of dust. They keep going, they fight through the searing pain, the hot tears, and continuous crash of everything collapsing again and again. They stand back up and keep on going.
I dream about being those people. The people who know that the end result is worth the mind-numbing tasks it takes to get there. The people who can continuously remind themselves of their goal, and how much they want it.
Dreaming is what I’m good at – action is my weakness.
Somehow, one of my big ideas became an accidental reality. I’ve always wanted to run some sort of creative writing club, the kind of club that I was lucky to be a part of in High School.
While speaking to a principal that I am thoroughly in awe of, I brought up that idea, and in a moment of bravery, asked if I could teach a creative writing elective in her school.
She said yes, and here I am, the day before my first class.
It is something that scares me like nothing else has ever scared me.
It has made me face myself in so many ways.
As I was working through some of the most important things I wanted to impart with my class, I came upon a big one.
I instantly felt like a total fraud.
I am being careful to teach only what I have been taught, and nothing more. I can only teach what I know deep inside of me.
Hard work just isn’t one of them.
Yet, teaching a creative writing class without explaining to my students the importance of hard work is also an impossibility.
So, I have only one more choice.
Learn how to work hard.
We are now in the month of Elul, approaching the month of Tishrei quickly. It is said that the month of Elul is an opportune time to reflect on the past year, on who you are as a person.
My last year was an interesting one, but without a doubt, I want this one to be even better. I want to be stronger, braver, smarter.
I will start by working on not being afraid of pushing myself.
Of course, I have a million ideas on how to do this, much of will never come to fruition.
But that’s the key – being aware of what I can actually accomplish.
Therefore, I will not promise to finally get into shape, publish a novel, or travel the world. Those are all things that I hope will be a part of my year in some ways, but can not be my one goal.
To prove to myself that I can work hard is something simple:
I will blog once a week.
I’ve made that promise a million times to myself, but I’ve always broken it.
This is something I know that I can do with hard work and perseverance. I chose this goal for a few reasons:
1. It is exactly what I want to impart to my students: Writing is something that can come out of pure hard work. Waiting for the inspiration is lazy.
2. It is something I’ve wanted to prove to myself that I can do for years.
3. It will push me to write when I have nothing to say. Because when I have nothing external inspiring me to write, that is when I turn inwards and find a part of myself I never knew existed.
While I expect to learn a lot about life and a lot about writing from my students, I am glad to say that even before I’ve met them, they are pushing me to become the person I’ve always wanted to be.
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