Yesterday I plopped down on my bed, kicked off my shoes and relaxed.
That is a rare occurrence in my college experience. There seems to be a notion that there is no room for relaxation if you want to be productive. Regardless of your mental health, others depend on you to get assignments done and schoolwork comes before everything.
I can’t disagree that schoolwork and other extracurricular activities are incredibly important. But, it is harder for me to accept that moments of mental clarity and time to do activities that truly speak to one’s passion will become a commodity in adult life.
I feel that adulthood is creeping up on me, hovering over my shoulder. I’m 18 and I already feel like my youth is slipping away before my eyes.
Settling in my bed, popping open a bag of chips, I decided to watch a movie.
I picked “Little Miss Sunshine” directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton. And let me tell you, I am so glad I did.
In the movie, a quirky little girl named Olive is picked to go to a beauty pageant aptly named the “Little Miss Sunshine Contest.”
Her family is composed of an unpredictable mother, a father aspiring to become a life coach, a brother who has taken a vow of silence, a suicidal uncle and a foul-mouthed, drug-addicted grandfather. However, these individuals share one commonality — an irrational fear of failure.
But during their road trip to the contest, each family member fails in their own way.
Olive’s brother, Dwayne finds out he is color blind, which ruins his dream of becoming a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. Richard, Olive’s father, receives a call from an agent that halts his life-coaching pursuit after a board of investors unanimously decide they don’t want any part in promoting him.
Before the group loses hope, a surprising figure says the most influential words of the entire film. Olive’s grandfather tells her that a person who tries something without knowing they will succeed, has already succeeded.
“A real loser is someone who’s so afraid of not winning he doesn’t even try,” he said.
When Olive competes in the Little Miss Sunshine Contest, her performance is deemed controversial by the audience. She ends up barred from ever performing at a beauty contest again.
The family rejoices over this and as they pack into their Volkswagen bus, pure happiness and pride is felt by all of them. They found pride in their failures, because they still tried.
I really took this sentiment to heart — it takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there and dream big. I think that sometimes I’m so scared of failure that I bombard myself with coursework and activities to distract myself from that frightening notion.
Intrinsically, a human fear many of us possess is failure. We all want happiness and success in one way or another. When people say “Try your best!” I know it can seem trivial, but sometimes, it’s the only thing we can do.
Life isn’t easy. College especially is not an easy feat. I feel I’ve encountered some of the most difficult and emotionally grueling situations of my life during my first year of college. I’ve repeatedly questioned my aspirations and how realistic they are.
Believing that you can’t be something or do something because it’s “unrealistic” is a narrow-minded thought and I’m just starting to realize that.
I’ve encountered many students at Lehigh of many majors who have either considered switching to something that “makes more money” or hiding their talent because they believe they’re “not good enough.” I’m here to tell you that is so far from the truth.
It can be scary to think about the future. It can be scary to think about failing at adulthood, picking the wrong major or not making enough money to support yourself and your family.
In college, and in general, we can get so caught up in worries about what the future holds that we are willing to sacrifice what we really want to do in life.
Worries about whether we will get a competitive internship or get into graduate school are common among students. These worries can be addressed by appreciating the present and taking advantage of what we can do now to succeed.
If you want to get that internship, you can do it! But right now, you’re still just a kid — enjoy it. The capabilities to attain a dream are always available.
The best thing we can do now is to know that eventually, we will get there. For right now, take pride in yourself and what you do. Don’t be afraid to fail. Sit back, relax and watch a movie.