Life is about choices. If you live long enough, I believe life will get hard. Whoever you are; life can be unfair. Life can break you down. You can stay down or you can get up and start jumping hurdles.
Anything worth doing in this life will challenge you. You may not win every challenge but that makes your moments of victory even sweeter. So far, what stands out in my memory are those moments when I looked back and realised I struggled most.
“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one” -Bruce Lee.
Failing High School Maths
In high school, I failed almost every year 10 maths test. It would have been easy for me to give up. My family couldn’t afford tutoring and my teachers couldn’t get through to me. My mother taught me life is about choices. I decided to learn from tutorial guides and practice tests. By year 11, I turned my grades around. In year 12, I graduated with enough marks to get in to university.
“One of You Will Fail”
During my first week at university, every student enrolled in the my degree was invited to attend an introductory lecture. Our lecturer said to a packed lecture theatre, “Look at the person on your left. Look at the person on your right. At the end of this semester, one of you three won’t be here”. That was quite a shock on our first week but she was right.
What I found most remarkable is that most students were not pushed out. As our lecturer predicted, many of these students ‘self-selected’. Life is about choices. They weren’t pushed out. They decided to quit.
On the day of my graduation, I sat next to a girl from another campus who was graduating the same day. I remember remarking to her, “I never thought I would be here”. She laughed and nodded her head and replied, “Me neither”.
Joining the Police Academy
At 29 years of age, I applied to join the NSW Police Force. Quite a contrast to my existing career in marketing but I was ready for a new challenge.
My first week at the NSW Police Academy was a shock. I had to learn the workings of a paramilitary organisation and balance my academic study with a gruelling fitness regime. A senior police officer addressed our class by saying, “For some of you, this next few months will be the hardest thing you will ever do. Some of you won’t make it. I can tell you this. If you want it bad enough you will make it to the end. Many recruits who leave the academy early will do so of their own choosing.”
Life is About Choices
Every recruit was challenged at some level. I was challenged on physical fitness, legal knowledge, written exams and during intense training scenarios. At times I felt like I could give up. Sometimes I had the feeling I would not make it. Then I reminded myself, life is about choices. So, I kept on going.
Some of my class mates did not make it through selection. A handful of them went back for a second or even third attempt. How admirable that they would push on, despite their setbacks.
On my final day at the NSW Police Academy, I participated in a ‘passing out’ parade, which involved a formal ceremony and marching in front of our family. The same senior officer who addressed us in our first week announced, “For those who are still standing here in front of me, well done. I know it hasn’t been easy. If you are standing on this parade ground, you have really earned it”. I remember an uncontrollable smile came across my face and I thought; yes. I really have earned this.
Everyone Feels This Way
Every goal I have worked towards has taken longer to achieve or been more difficult than I first imagined. When I set out on any new endeavour, I expect problems. When I expect problems it makes me less likely to complain when they arise and more likely to find solutions.
Every person feels like they might not be good enough, at some point. Some push past it and realise they are. Others give up. Even capable, qualified people, sometimes feel out of their depth.
Every person is unique and I can’t pretend I know all about your battles. You will probably never know about some of mine.
Life is about choices. Choices to keep moving, keep trying and never give up. Persistence wins in the end.