Thursday, March 20, 2014

Failure is Inevitable

On Thursday, March 20th, I had the privilege of sitting in a lecture with Mr. James Carville and Mrs. Mary Matalin. Both worked as political consultants, but I don't want to address  politics. In that lecture, I learned some pretty key things. Things that I believe should be shared.

Failure is not something to fear. It happens to everyone. Just think about something you've always wanted to do. Now, think about all the reasons why you can't. Are they reasons or are they excuses?

Mr. Carville pointed out that it is better to be in the arena and taste defeat than to be an onlooker and never have stepped into the arena. Let's face it. What do we have to loose if we get up and try? If we fail, so what. We loose our pride. However, we gain humility. If we try, we can look at all of our critics and say "at least I had the guts to do something."

People in our generation are pretty lucky. We have social media. We just need to use it to our advantage. Everyone knows how rapidly things spread on the internet. A post that I wrote earlier this week received over 3,500 views after only being online for 72 hours. That's amazing. Before social media, think about how hard it would have been to reach that many people in just 3 days. Shocking right?

Our generation is far from lost. We claim we don't have some great war or some depression, but honestly, we don't need it. We've got a social revolution. We are changing ways of mass communication, learning that being open-minded and understanding not just what people believe, but why they believe it is the key to being able to not only have respect for each other but to work together despite our differences.

We are leaders. We are all smart. We have the ability to change things. We just have to be willing to work. We don't need to think that if we stand up and vocalize our opinion that it means we are basically going to get shot down for being wrong. We have the power to change that outlook on things. We can sit down and talk about issues without bringing up who paid the most for rent or what someone had for dinner.

So, if failure is something that we fear, so be it. However, it shouldn't prevent us from stepping into the arena.

Mr. Carville summed up the lecture with some wise words from Theodore Roosevelt. I'll conclude with the same ones.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dear Cedartown,

Dear Cedartown,

It's been close to a year since I graduated from Cedartown High School, and I've learned a lot about how people see our town from the outside looking in. Quite honestly, people seem to remember the bad things more than the good.

Why am I bringing this up?

Have any of the locals read the paper? Let's face it, a weapon of any kind in a middle school gives a pretty shady image of the community. The phrase "one bad apple spoils the whole bunch" is true. If you were a parent who was choosing between moving to either Cedartown or another area, you wouldn't want to send your child to a school where a weapon was found.

Another incident that happened very recently, the sexting case. Congrats. Read the comments on shared links on Facebook. I won't lie, I laughed a bit at the article. I actually found myself thinking "well this would be the one thing missing from our school." However, it's not funny. It's not even funny that my first thought was that the situation would have been the one thing missing from my Alma Mater.

Cedartown, please clean up your act. If you think something doesn't impact you, it does. If an outsider looking in doesn't see how successful our band program is, the amazing productions of the drama department, how far our football team has made it, and how the academics are steadily improving and is first greeted by all of the negative, we've got bigger problems than fixing a road. Business come where employees would be willing to call home. The majority of people want to live somewhere safe (socially, physically, and mentally).

So now I'm asking honestly if people at home truly care about Cedartown. Yeah, everyone wants to get out. I know that. I can probably guess a lot of the reasons why people say the same thing still today. "There isn't anything to do here." "I'm so tired of doing the same thing over and over again."

And honestly, there isn't as much to do in Cedartown as there is in Rome. However, here's a list of what all can be done:

Midnight runs to waffle house/huddle house (after sporting events at the high school I know this was popular)

Band concerts (come on people, it's a great program and the concerts are FREE)

CHS Drama Department Productions (If the acting cast is anything like I remember, you won't regret any dime spent on attending one of these)

Go workout with some friends (ex: running at the park, biking on the silver comet trail) and then support the LOCAL economy by going to Top This afterwards.

The arts festival always draws huge crowds along with the 5k.

Go watch the Road Race that comes through Cedartown. We have local olympians who participate in it. (Yes, I did say Cedartown is a place that an Olympian calls home).

And this list doesn't include sporting events, relay for life,, etc...

Still not enough, why don't we encourage students to create their own projects for community service and/or starting their own business? The students are creative enough, but lets face it, getting through all the hoops can be a bit of a struggle if you don't know which one to go through.

Another thing before I get off my soap box. Why not try to have at least one positive event about the community reach the front page of the local paper every week? It's going to take some hard work by everyone. Students of all levels of schooling, community service organizations, and people of ALL socio-economic standings. It's not impossible though.

So Cedartown, please try to clean up your image. I want to say that I'm proud to have been a part of Cedartown and can recommend Cedartown for others to visit.

A very concerned graduate of Cedartown High School.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Aren't we forgetting something?

Thoughts of a Berry College Freshman Student-Athlete:

So we've all heard of something going on during the winter olympics in Sochi. We watched countries win medals, stories of athletes that can inspire anyone, and we watched as these athletes accomplished dreams. After the closing ceremonies our attention drew back to politics and whatever else happened to be concerning the world (Miley Cyrus, 2014 elections, et.)... and we forgot about the second round of winter olympics. Society forgot about the Winter Para-olympics.

When someone suffers an injury that they "cannot" fully recover from, we, the non-injured and non-disabled, have a tendency to stare. Let's face it - we are all guilty. Yet, we stare when they struggle. We rarely help them if we see them struggling. We often watch until someone gets the guts to break out of their "trance" to help the person.

Yet, we don't watch their success.

Nothing is more powerful, in my opinion, than seeing someone overcome challenges that are far beyond their control. Some of them were born with these challenges. Others received these challenges after an accident or illness of some sort.

Watching the para olympics reminds me of multiple things that we all should take into consideration...

1) Don't complain about having to do more work/harder work. Imagine how it would be, say, without an arm or leg. Be thankful for what you have.

2) Don't say "I can't". If people who are basically told they will never walk again can make it to the olympics for playing hockey and win gold - what's stopping you? Is it really that you can't or is it that you don't want to put forth the worth?

3) If there is a will, there is a way. Those who travel the road less traveled to find that way tend to be the strongest people in the world. When they break down crying after winning an olympic medal - realize there's more to what they have done than just competing on the international stage. They probably were told by multiple doctors "you can't". They had to fight twice as hard (at least) to be able to hear the words "you can" from someone.

I truly believe that it's the para-olympics that carry more of the olympic spirit that the highly viewed olympics. So now I wonder, why do we turn our eyes away from the success stories of the true athletes? Why do we simply forget that there is still another two weeks of intense competition going on after the first round of the Sochi Winter Olympics? Is it because we are afraid of seeing success? Are we ignorant because we see these athletes as "different"?

So next time you choose what you want to watch on television - you can watch the same stories over and over about politics, nonsense in Hollywood, drama on capital hill, or try to watch something that will actually get you inspired and realizing how lucky you are.

I say we stop "forgetting" about the para-olympics and cheer on the real athletes.