“This is a soft generation. You quit on everything.. I dare you to take a little pain.”
Back in the early days of high school, I first heard Eric Thomas’s words. He spat them with such power from my laptop screen, they drove me through mid-years and finals. A few weeks back -at a time when I needed them most – I scrolled down the length of my youtube history. It was a dull Thursday morning, but over the next twenty minutes, Eric Thomas would radiate out of my speakers. Here I was to rediscover the impact of his words.
“Secrets to Success” is spoken with this infliction, diction and dedication, I believe even Dr. King would’ve admired. I remember sharing this hip hop preacher with my brother. Then, with some close friends. They regarded how intense it was, saying it was too much for them. I always wondered what fluffy quote motivated them – but they retaliated with little.
Still, I’d be up at 3am completing assignments, and in the background were these words. You know what jolted my tired eyes? It was that one sentence he said.
“This is the most important thing: to be able at any moment – to sacrifice what you are, for what you will become.”
(Read it twice, three times if you have to.)
I thought of that same sentence; I recalled that same speech by Eric Thomas the day I received my law test results. I scrolled down a screen of scores to find my own. Perhaps ashamed, my I.D. was desperate to blend in. It hoped that between so many others, the shapes of the numbers would make no sense. But I found it. And I found that D. Oh yes, that D was Bright. As. Day.
“Well, fuck,” was my first thought.
2 minutes passed.
I shrugged. “Eh, true.”
Another minute, and I found myself in a zone I knew I’d stay. “Well, okay.”
Okay, you didn’t try hard enough. But also, it’s okay. Because I know you, McKenzie – and I know you will try harder. By nature, you don’t stop here.
Inspired by gospel choirs who clap in unison and the “I Have a Dream” speech on its 7th play, I’ve been subconsciously moulding the only exit I know out of this tunnel, for years. I’ve just been waiting to be shot down to put it to use.
This is gonna have to be some sort of Drake started-from-the-bottom type shit, I thought. I’ll just have to be one of the success stories.
And I said this to other people too. Because fuck, I’m not afraid to admit I didn’t do it right. To say, yes I’m doing law, but right now, I’m failing. Because folks – and I’ll say this too – it’s temporary. There’s no finality in that score.
In fact, I look at that D and part of me thinks fuck, finally, McKenzie! You damn needed a wake-up call! I’m glad for once it didn’t come so easy and you couldn’t continue the way you’ve always done. I’m glad you didn’t just scrape through so you could keep scraping. Instead, your lack of organisation and insufficient effort, it turned around, slapped you in the face and threw you to the bottom like it should have done a long time ago. I’m glad it finally confronted you.
But people around me didn’t appear to feel the same way. They received their scores back. I’m considering dropping, they said. I don’t think it’s for me, they shrugged. I desired Eric’s strong accent to counteract these moments.
“Stop dropping classes like you’re soft.. I dare you to take a little pain.”
I’m going to be honest now. If you came here to read some relatable tumblr post about how “we all have our own shit”, I’m going to advise you to stop reading. Or keep going, because it is perhaps you (and I) who need to hear this the most.
The truth is, most of us have had it fucking easy. We’ve had family by our side.. friends. We’ve had a roof over our head. And never have we been forced to consider the consistency of such things.
So we have to walk home in the rain? Well, for most, there’s a damn place to walk to. Why, an ability to walk, to feel such a thing as rain.
I’m telling you, if you haven’t faced discrimination, criticism, loss, danger, or fear to the extent where your life has been truly and consistently at risk, I want to remind you right now, you’ve probably had it fucking easy. I am the same.
But I dare you, in the words of Eric Thomas, to make it a little hard.
Stop being afraid of failure, purely based on the fact you haven’t before experienced it. Use this opportunity of a bad grade – and see it as no less – to grow stronger. Stop doing the same thing you’ve always done just to expect different results. Start sacrificing shit. Begin with old habits and don’t stop until you’ve detached yourself from draining people.
Stop sleeping your days away. Get the fuck out of bed. Study like you haven’t before. Stop saying you don’t need the credits – of course, you don’t. You need the life skills. Do your readings. Start fuelling your body with good food; stop accepting tiredness as a norm.
We ought not to look at difficulty as the problem. Instead, to address how apt we are in coping with it.
When people ask how I get up so early, or how I attend all my classes – it’s because I want this degree, man. I want to earn my place in this world. For such a reason, I won’t be dropping my course until the day they drop me. And with all my will power, I will do my best to make sure they don’t.
Friends, it’s time we reminded ourselves of our own cause.
While we learn, party, meet people, grow, and find ourselves, let us stay true to why we started. And don’t, not once, let the fact we’ve never fallen be the reason we do not stand back up.