What struggle and worry can do

By Jeff Smith


People try hard to become their best selves. The person they want to be.

Sometimes we have ideas of how we could change and then we become the best we can be in a particular area.

For me that was journalism. Growing up I didn’t have any desire to be on the news or write for newspapers. Doing that didn’t really come into my mind until college.

At the same time, if someone would’ve told me that I wouldn’t be working in journalism when I graduated I would have been crushed.

But it’s really unimportant in the grand scheme of life. I want to get better at what I do but there are also a lot of things I want to do outside of journalism.

I am proud of what I am doing today and how things are going. But I don’t think I am always my best self.

Growing up I wanted to be Air Force pilot. As I got closer to high school I thought of becoming a counselor and then a biologist.

I grew up in a place and an environment where people are encouraged to go to college. All of the places I have lived people are proud of being and want to see others excel.

But people grow up in places that they aren’t proud of around the U.S. Students in a lot of places grow up just thinking they are going to take over their parent’s farm or work a minimum wage job. One of those places is North Port, Fla.

On the podcast “Invisibilia” it was revealed that almost a quarter of the students dropout of school there and fights break out between the students all of the time. It’s not a place where CEOs are born or built.

Back in 2011 two students committed suicide not too far apart from one another. A high school principal there, George Kinney, was known for hypnotizing students to get them to focus, perform better and relieve stress. I never thought that hypnosis was that powerful until I heard about this story. The students that died had lofty goals. One wanted to go to Juilliard, another one wanted to go to the University of Central Florida.

There was also a student who died in a car accident the same year as a result of self-hypnotizing. Brittany Palumbo, one of the students who died, was affected by the be-your-best-self atmosphere at the school but her SAT scores were not good enough to get into the University of Central Florida.

Neither of Brittany’s parents had graduated from college. Her mom was a waitress. Her dad worked in construction. Her mom had her visualize a negative future scenario for herself which didn’t include going to college. As a waitress, Brittany’s mom knew what hardship was and she didn’t want that for her daughter.

Brittany was not happy when her only choice was to go to a community college. I thought it was interesting that people were divided over whether the principal who was hypnotizing these students was a hero or a villain. Some thought the principal was trying to do everything he possibly could to help students reach their dreams when other people just wouldn’t bother.

What stuck out to me about the ordeal too is that none of the parents saw the signs of depression or didn’t try to change their children’s mind about having more realistic goals.

There is also this culture today that puts a lot of pressure on students to perform well so that they could get into a good college and have a good career. I think this leads to students feeling bad about themselves when things don’t work out.

In South Dakota last year the suicide rate was higher than 173. It’s an epidemic fueled by unrealistic expectations and a lack of concern for the well-being of others. Life is hard and  everybody needs somebody to turn to in a time of crisis.

Usually when I am in a crisis I react but I unfortunately don’t turn to others. I don’t take the time to think about myself or if what I am doing is worth the struggle.

Struggle is a human equalizer. Struggle might help you become a better person. It’s a hard concept to grasp. But the mistakes that we make in our jobs and in our lives help us to become better.

People need to learn that not everything is going to go their way all the time. Don’t give up your life for anything or anybody.  Everything that we do wrong in life has meaning too.

In college I was in a campus ministry called Campus Ventures. At the core of the ministry are these seven heart attitudes. The first one is to put the goals and interests of others above your own. This goes against what culture says. It can also be pretty dangerous.

I think we need to be selfish sometimes. An ethical person can be foolish to think that putting other people’s interests above your own can solve the world’s problems.

It’s a nice dream if everybody would do this. But most of the time a person should do what is best for them.

The problem that was at North Port and in traditional American homes is that there is too much emphasis placed on having a singular version of the future. Anything else that happens is seen as a failure. People imagine themselves in the future being happy and having a great career, maybe a supportive significant other and children. To a certain degree, I don’t think a person should worry about the future. Do the best that you can tod