“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one” -Bruce Lee.
Life is hard. If you live long enough, I believe life will challenge you at some point. I don’t care who you are; life can be unfair. Life can break you down. You can stay down or you can get up and start jumping hurdles.
I know 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 almost didn’t make it or I almost gave up at some point.
I remember one day on my first week at university. Every student enrolled in the Bachelor of Commerce degree was invited to attend a lecture about what to expect in our course. 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 our lecturer 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’. In other words; they weren’t pushed out. They 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”.
Years later, I decided to try a different path. At 29 years of age, I applied to join the NSW Police Force.
My first week at the NSW Police Academy was quite a shock. I had to learn the workings of a paramilitary organisation and balance my academic study with a testing fitness regime. I recall a senior figure calling us out on the parade ground assembly area. Early into her address of class 314 she said something like, “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.”
I can’t tell you much about my training but I can tell you it challenged me on a personal level. I was nervous during physical fitness tests, academic tests and during our defensive tactics assessment. At several points along the way, I felt like I could give up. I really felt like I might not make it.
I wasn’t alone. In fact, some of my class mates didn’t make it. A handful of them went back and had a second and sometimes a third attempt. I understand how tough that would be and I admire them for pushing on.
On my final day at the NSW Police Academy, I participated in a ‘passing out’ parade, which involves a formal ceremony and a march in front of our family. The same senior police officer who addressed us during our first week, also spoke at this event. She said, “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.
Every goal I have worked towards has taken longer to achieve or been more difficult than I first imagined. When I set out on every 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.
It’s not just you that feels like you might not be good enough. At some point, I believe every person feels that. I have spoken to many capable, qualified and clever people, who feel like they are out of their depth. I have rarely found this to be true.
Every person is unique and I can’t pretend I know all about your battles. You will probably never know about some of mine.
Keep moving. Keep trying. Persistence usually wins in the end.