Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"If you do not succeed, try, try again."

In grade school, teachers bought posters with the above saying and attached them to the walls of classrooms, hoping to incite some sort of inspiration in their students. Everything can be achieved with a lot of practice, a lot of effort, a lot of invested time. Everything? Everything.


Can you apply this to academics, friendships, dating, career-seeking, writing?

If you've learned anything in science class, it's that biology does play a role in creating gender distinctions. Not only do our genitals look completely foreign compared to one another (duh), but our brains boast different levels of skills. The ladies show more activity in language-specific brain areas, while the gentlemen show superior spacial reasoning. Women are friends with verbal skills, while men bond with math and the sciences. Does this mean women require more practice in math to achieve the same level of skill as men do in the subject, and vice versa? Surveys admit that the gap between male and female engineers is preposterous; women are just more inclined to become teachers, writers, nurses, etc. Can more practice and more effort on my sex's part even out the mathematical score?

And what about friendships? One isn't just born prosocial. Over time, experiences with family and peers cater to the lowering or heightening of our self-esteem, which is correlated with socialization. If our peers don't reject us or avoid us, we're more likely to be socially-sound and confident in our endeavors. But can we "practice" being personable and sociable? What does that even mean: standing in front of a mirror, and making sure you have an adequate amount of conversational topics to surface when you're with others? Does it mean going to a party and getting intoxicated so that, even if you do suffer from low self-esteem, your awareness of that will decrease and allow you to meet people?

Speaking of meeting people, let's proceed to dating. You can, in fact, practice dating. You can  theorize that each time you go on a date with someone, you're experimenting with different ways of getting to know that person, every instance being different from the last. It's all a test to find someone close to perfection. This experimentation is just practice for the big kahuna (brace yourselves): MARRIAGE! To think it all starts in 6th grade, when you kissed that big-earred, braces-wearing nerd in your basement. Then, you reach high school, and ultimately take the plunge into the world of relationships (or the world of random-hookups; either applies).

Then, academic upgrade: college. The whole system of dating, your perception of it, goes awry. Surrounded by people who claim they are full-fledged adults, you try to mirror their actions, maybe stray from commitment and emotional connections, caring, mutuality. Hooking up becomes more than the norm: it's life, a different person each party, maybe a different person every few months. Who wants to put a relationship ahead of their academics and future? To claim you aren't responsible enough for one simultaneously is hogwash & puerile. You'll always be climbing the life ladder, whether its academics or occupational success. Why do it alone? You can, you absolutely can function as an individual, but the real test is bringing someone else into the picture. If you don't experience it, you'll never know. What's life without complications, complexities, and challenge? Like watching paint dry: boring.

For example, finding a career that greatly defines your interest takes time and practice. Leap from one field to the next, until you stumble upon something that stirs you the most. Of course, in this day in age, we lack the ability to explore as much as before. Jobs are scarce. You could be laid off after a year, and what then? Do you really want to be that lazy ass committing fraud and living off of $500-a-week unemployment checks from the government? No one likes those.

As I'm writing the previous paragraph, I sulk at the lack of information I have. But that evolves from inexperience. What advice can I give someone, if I've only had 4 jobs before? I can do this though: I can tell you about writing, and my preposterously rough relationship with it. This skill takes plenty of practice that might begin with hair-pulling and self-deprecating sighs, but with perseverance, the learner may have the ladies saying, "Oh, you have a way with words." If you're an English major whose writing style is still in production, then you have multiple classes or paper grades to establish your voice. Yet is it possible that some of us just have that gift of gab, that innate love of language? I believe so, but I wouldn't call those people superior. For those of us still struggling to write like professionals, we have a breadth of activities available to speed up the process: websites with exercises, college classes, blogging, writing a short story a day. Chances are, someone's going to take an interest in your style, even if you end up writing on napkins in a bar until you can assemble all of your ideas into a novel.

That last one was in light of J.K. Rowling assembling the Harry Potter series despite poverty and hard times.

But what you can say to the child living in the ghetto, whose demographics almost condemn him to less opportunities than the white child sitting atop the ivory towers of upper class America? Can they dream, too? How many "greats" rose from poverty and social strife to become world-renowned? More than you might think.

You can achieve or obtain anything--realistically, anything--you wish with effort & discipline. Why else do you think every Asian kid is stereotyped as the next Einstein? They worked incredibly hard until that result could be obtained. The same amount of energy, maybe even less, is the cliche "recipe for success."