The other day my mother told me what she thought the secret to succeed was. “Think it,” she said bluntly. According to her, I need to want something and think about it in order to eventually get it. This sounded a lot like the book (or movie) “The Secret” and I wouldn’t be surprised if she owns it.
“I have a different secret,” I replied, “work with what you have.”
At first she was puzzled with my idea and she said something that had to do with the word “settling.” But settling isn’t implied in my secret. Working with what you have has nothing to do with not pursuing happiness, it rather means that although we usually think there is only one path to our happiness, I argue that there might be more than one path. The problem is that people usually confuse the trip with the journey. Allow me to explain.
I have a friend who applied to UCLA as a Psych major a couple of years back. She didn’t get in, but she got into other schools. She said she wouldn’t go anywhere else because all she’s ever wanted to do in her life was to go to UCLA. I tried to explain to her that as a wannabe psychologist, she’d need to go to Grad School and she could probably go to UCLA then. She then said my option wouldn’t do and she didn’t go to any other school.
Psychology is one of the most popular and selective majors at UCLA. It’s highly impacted and you have to be near perfect in order to get into the program. Most people, I assume, are told this when preparing for this major. I knew she knew this. Yet it never crossed her mind that if her true happiness was UCLA, she could have chosen a less selective major.
My brother always wanted to go to medical school when he was little. One of our uncles is a doctor and he was my brother’s favorite. My uncle was the youngest among his brothers (my dad was the second out of three) so he was always the cool uncle you wanted to hang out with. He was also the one who always took us to movies and soccer games. So I think my brother idolized him and wanted to be like him. But when the time came for my brother to work on his undergrad degree, my brother’s grades weren’t good enough for a public school and my family didn’t have enough money for a private school. He could have taken out loans but he didn’t want to. He could have applied for a different major and then transferred, but he didn’t want to. His way was the only way.
I realized a long time ago that having a family and sharing my life with them would make me the happiest. Sure a career I enjoy will be great. Sure accomplishing dreams from my childhood would be great. But these are my paths, not my ultimate happiness. My mother wants me to think about happiness. I want to work with the tools I have to achieve my happiness.
I work because that way I can help support us. I go to school because I love learning, but it will also help me in the future to provide for my family. I could think about a family all my life if I want to but that would never be enough. I have to work for it. Not in the kind of work you want to avoid, but in the kind that is building something fantastic.
So maybe you didn’t get that job you wanted or you couldn’t go to that thing you wanted to go to- can you do something else? Work with what you have…
-Mrs. This One