My oldest son is a freshman in high school. YIKES! It seems like just yesterday I was writing about him here at my website as he was beginning middle school!
This is a really fun stage in his life, as he's discovering the things he loves to do, the things he's good at, and beginning to make decisions about his future. I'm enjoying every minute of watching him become a young man.
Recently, he auditioned for All-State band. This is a rigorous audition process - that involves 2 different "cuts" - to determine the very best instrumentalists in the state. For his instrument (French Horn), only 20 players from the entire state would be selected. He made it through the first cut, finishing 5th overall in our district. Already a tremendous accomplishment for a freshman competing against students who are sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high school. When he didn't make it through the second cut to be one of the 20 selected, he was bummed. So was I. But not too terribly disappointed.
We had a talk about what it meant to do the "hard stuff". Auditioning for All-State band, especially as a freshman, was hard. He didn't have to do it. He CHOSE to do it. And choosing to do the "hard stuff" is how we improve, how we grow, and how we eventually "get there". There's such value in doing the hard stuff. When we stretch ourselves past what is comfortable or easy, that's where we find who we truly are. Where, after several tries, we find success.
I told him it was sort of like writing a book. Writing a book is not easy, as all authors know. It's difficult, toiling, gut-wrenching work. It takes a long time and can drain you mentally and emotionally. But authors choose to do it, because we know that by "doing the hard stuff" and stretching ourselves beyond where we're comfortable, a book eventually comes to fruition. And with each "stretch" and each "completed product", we grow and improve.
This idea is true no matter what area you pursue. For my son, it won't be the last time he chooses to do the hard stuff, and it won't be the last time the results don't turn out exactly the way he'd like them to. But in the end, he'll be better and stronger for his efforts. And he'll have a list of accomplishments to his credit because he chose to do the hard stuff instead of doing the easy thing and sitting on the sidelines watching life pass him by.