From the Loser
By Tim Drugan-Eppich
Painting generations with a broad brush of generalizations always makes people upset, and while that is not my intention, generalizing is one of my favorite things to do.
We, the younger generation, love to quit things. I say that because I am part of the younger generation, and if one person in a group does something, you define the entire group by that person. Right? Good.
I love to quit things.
It can all be drawn to a fear of commitment. I am terrified of committing to something because what if it’s the wrong thing? There are so many different avenues to take in life, how could I possibly be sure that the one I am taking is the correct one? One of my biggest fears is putting many years and excessive hours into a thing only to realize I actually despise that thing I put so much time into. What a disaster. What if Einstein suddenly decided he hated math, where would he be then?
But there comes a time when you have to bear down and decide to stick with something. We need people who have decided to put in the work in their chosen field, and excelled at it. This is necessary for breaking boundaries in all aspects of life, whether scientific, musical, or artistic. Even food is affected by this. Think about the most delicious thing you have eaten in the past month. That was not made by someone who spent their time browsing the Internet watching videos of pandas rolling down a hill. It was made by a chef who put a lot of time into learning his craft.
Our pastimes are also affected by commitment. What would you rather spend your time doing; going to see a piano master playing at Carnegie hall, performing an incredibly moving piece that brings memories of your loved ones and tears of emotion to your eyes? Or would you rather watch me; a 21-year-old who knows a little about baseball players, can kind of fix a bedframe, and knows how to play one beat on the drums. Granted it’s a pretty sweet beat, but you get my point. I don’t want heart surgery done by someone who has only been at it for a few years in their spare time between practicing magic tricks. We need people with passion!
The problem is there are many factors that are preventing people from wanting to put in the work to reach their goals. One is how easy it is to quit. Quitting is painfully easy, and at the time it always seems like a great idea. Every time I have quit a job, the first week was awesome. No more early alarm, no more having to worry about tucking in my shirt, and no more rushing my morning constitutional. It is great, until the money starts to dry up, and then I realize my mistake.
Even more than jobs, there are many things that I regret quitting and I’m sure it is a shared feeling. For some people it is as simple as working out. If you hadn’t stopped working out, you would be fit by now. For others it is an instrument. If you had just practiced half an hour a day since middle school, you would be so good at trumpet by now! But instead you spent the time watching YouTube and reading other people’s Facebook pages.
Another thing playing a role in this how we are so absorbed with instant gratification. I am a perfect example of this. It has gotten so bad that sometimes I eat ramen noodles raw like a big crunchy cracker because I don’t want to wait the five minutes they take to boil. That is terrifying! If I can’t wait five minutes to have an edible meal, how am I going to be able to look ahead and see that I need to put in a couple hours each day doing something now so I can be great at it in my 40s?
I have struggled to find the thing that I want to put my time into; always nervous that it is the wrong thing, I never committed, instead just floundering, grabbing at different ideas every week. There was one week where in the span of six days I considered being a comedian, a firefighter, an astronaut, and an English teacher. A week later I was still interested in zero of those things. And from what I hear when talking to others my age, I am not alone in this.
Advice that I think everyone can benefit from hearing is pick a road and go down it. This is what I am trying to do. So what if it’s the wrong one? I’ll probably pick up some good stories along the way, and maybe even some useful skills.
At the risk of sounding sappy, I think that I have figured out the key to happiness. It is not what you are doing, but how you do it. Don’t worry about getting the perfect job, just start working on something and have a good attitude. I haven’t gotten this down; in fact, I am a master complainer, but I’m working on it.
I’m not writing this from the point of someone who has it figured out. I still have no idea what I’m doing. But I’ve decided that whatever I am doing at a certain point in time is going to get my full attention, because in 20 years I don’t want to be looking back wishing I had done more.
Tim Drugan-Eppich is a junior majoring in English.