How an 18-Year Old Almost Made Me Cry and Why Persistence is Crucial for Success

You’re one step away and you don’t even know it. Did you know most people quit right before they become successful?

Can I Go Home Yet?

I attended my cousin’s graduation yesterday. I went to the graduation expecting the usual. Proud parents, friends, and family cheering for their kids. I didn’t expect to walk out of there moved and inspired. It’s funny how life will sometimes bring you inspiration at the right time.

I’ve been working on overcoming some challenges lately. I love challenges because they make us grow in life. I’m forever grateful for them, but at the same time, I have to admit that those same challenges are testing my patience and optimism. I don’t see that as a bad thing, I think that’s expected. We can’t grow without pain.

I don’t like graduations because they’re monotonous and I would rather spend two hours doing something productive. I do enjoy seeing my loved ones walk and get that awesome feeling of accomplishment, so I still choose to attend them regardless of my animosity towards them.

The 18-Year Old

A valedictorian is a student with the highest overall GPA in their class. They called the valedictorian up to the podium to give a speech; I thought it’d be a cliché speech about thanking all his teachers and friends for the support. What I didn’t know was that a high school student was about to almost bring me to tears.

In his speech, he talked about his high school journey and the power of persistence. He lost his sister to meningitis in his freshman year. Two years later he lost his father in his junior year. He thought about committing suicide the next year as a senior. He could have gone through with ending his life and no one would have blamed him. But that would have been the easy way out and unfair to the memory of his loved ones.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ­­ — Viktor Frankl

The easy way out is never the right choice. He knew this, he persevered through the pain and doubts. The pain from loss and the doubts from people and even himself. Not only did he decide to live his life, but he went above and beyond. He didn’t decide to live an average life coping instead of thriving. He’s a driven and intelligent individual. Despite all his adversities, he graduated with a GPA of 4.8; something most people in his situation wouldn’t be able to achieve.

Persistence Is The Key

I don’ think he was gifted or born with magic. A choice, that’s what helped him overcome everything that was put in his way. The choice to persist and have faith that everything will work out for the best. Sadly, this is a choice that most people don’t make. Most people quit when things get tough and they hope that by quitting the pain will go away. Well, it won’t make it go away. The pain of quitting will always be greater than the pain of growth from overcoming problems.

Do you want to be 80 years old and regret everything in your life? People don’t regret what they did, people regret what they didn’t do.

Take risks and embrace the uncertainty. Don’t live an average life doing what everybody else is doing. Sheep are really good at following and wolves are really good at eating them. This world has an insane amount of sheep and very few wolves, wolves are the go-getters that get everything they want in life. Wolves persist while sheep perish.

Persistence is what sets apart the extraordinary from the mediocre. The ability to keep going despite how difficult problems and obstacles get. Pushing through the pain is what makes us grow. Avoiding discomfort at all costs is what make us stagnate and get stuck. Overcoming fear and taking the next step into the unknown, trusting that if there’s no floor below you, you’ll learn how to fly on the way down and come out on top.

The valedictorian’s story is just one of many people that have chosen to persist instead of giving up. These people have chosen to take action instead of complaining, they have chosen to take ownership instead of playing being the victim.

Be Fucking Grateful

I’m truly disgusted by people that choose to complain about their petty problems when there are people facing real challenges out there. That sugar missing in your coffee isn’t the end of the world, stop bitching about it. Be grateful for your coffee and for being alive.

Choose to persist.

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