Friday, February 27, 2015

Check your privilege

“There's that saying...something like ‘if you want it bad enough, you find a way, otherwise you just find excuses.” 

Somebody I like and respect said this yesterday in a Facebook conversation. And I get it, it's a platitude that we've all heard versions of. It's just a thing you say. Follow your dream. You can do anything you want. Where there's a will, there's a way. 

What a ridiculous sentiment.

If I could change one thing about the way people think, this pernicious belief in the power of lifting by your own bootstraps would be it. Yes, with hard work and dedication, you can sometimes achieve your goals. But also, sometimes, with hard work and dedication, you can fall flat on your face.

(…And then someone will kick you when you’re down by saying that you just didn’t want it badly enough to succeed.)

Sometimes a person with cancer who wants to live bad enough will still die.

Sometimes a person who wants to be famous bad enough will never get their big break.

Sometimes a person who wants to leave their dangerous neighborhood bad enough will have to stay behind and care for their family.

And if you can’t see this, maybe you should try harder to find a way to see it

You can't always "find a way." Sometimes there isn't a way. Sometimes there might be a way but the costs are too high and the obstacles are insurmountable. Sometimes finding a way to get what you want means hurting other people. 

A world where everyone does whatever it takes to get what they want is a horrifying place. Equally horrifying is a world where people who don't get what they want are assumed to be excuse-making failures. I'm also not sure there is much to be said for a life where what you want never changes.

And while I'm ranting, when did having an excuse become a bad thing? The whole idea of an excuse is that it explains behavior that seems negative. Isn't that a good thing? Isn't it nice to know that people have thoughtful reasons for making the choices they do—especially when you don't agree with those choices?

What I'm working up to saying is this:  I'm trying out a new set of goals for this year, with endurance very low on the list. There are a lot of things I need to do and want to achieve and I can't find a way to do all of them in a world where time and money are finite. 

You know how sometimes you are cleaning your house, and it has to get worse before it gets better? Well, that's me this year. I'm cleaning house. That's my excuse.