by Darrin Schenck

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by Darrin Schenck

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The entire quote I wanted to use was too long for the title, but this is it:
You are not responsible for the life you have been handed,
but you are complicit.
As human beings, we have an amazing capacity to adapt to our circumstances and surroundings. This was essential for life way back when we were nomadic hunters and gatherers. We followed the food sources as best we could, and the mass herds of animals led us to unknown territories. We learned how to hunt more efficiently, gather foods that were safe to eat, and adapt to temperature fluctuations as just a few of the hurdles we had. Nowadays, our cushy lifestyle has all but bred out of many of us the understanding that we have the ability to change almost everything in and around our lives. Granted, you can’t make yourself tall enough to be a starting center in the NBA, but with enough work you might be able to be a good shooting guard and still make it to that level. Others have done it, maybe you could too.
Here is what I am getting at, your future is not dictated by your past. If you pay attention, one of the things that is a common thread among many successful people IS BECAUSE they had some sort of adversity in their lives and they fought to overcome it. In fact, many of they will say it was because of this adversity that they developed the will and the skill to change their lives and go on to something much bigger and better. So maybe you should be thankful that things are tough right now, maybe it is a gift in disguise.
The reason the quote at the top caught my attention was not just the first half, but certainly the second half of the quote as well. Are you being complicit in the hand you’ve been dealt? Are you furthering the problems, or are you not taking action to change things that are circumstances that you don’t like? Here are a few obvious examples:
Do people in your family smoke?
Are they overweight or just have poor dietary habits in general?
Did many of the people in your family quit high school or never go to college?
or, the opposite end of the spectrum…
Are one or both of your parents doctors or lawyers and you want to be an artist?
It is assumed you will take over the family business and that is the last thing you want to do?
Do you have athletic talent but are getting pushed into corporate America sooner than you want?
NEWSFLASH…THEY ARE NOT YOU
Regardless of the circumstances that you live in, you can change things. You can choose not to smoke, you can educate yourself about better eating habits. You can learn lots on line, and even graduate college by using the computer at the library in your town, or anyone’s laptop and internet connection. On the flipside, the fact that Mom and Dad both have something in mind for your future does not mean you have to do those things. If you hate the idea of going to Med school, or working 90 hours a week (if you get through law school) as your job, DON’T DO IT. Take a stand and change course. This might mean that you risk some tough conversations, arguments to the contrary, and how you are messing up your life, etc. You may even get “cut off” and your parents quit paying for college. In my opinion, it is all worth it. I went through all of the above except getting cut off; my family didn’t have the money to send me to college. I borrowed the money to be there, and my education is still being paid back through student loans.
But ya know what I did? I became a Pro Racquetball Player. Yes, there is such a thing, and no, that sport does not make you rich. It doesn’t even pay your bills if you are outside the top 4 players on the planet. But I knew all that going in; it wasn’t about making money, it was about the adventure. It was about self exploration, learning my strengths and weaknesses, facing fears both real and imagined. It was about learning LIFE SKILLS through the vehicle of racquetball that was important. I may not have even understood all of that intrinsically at the time, but one thing I did know:
“IF I DON’T DO THIS, I WILL ALWAYS WONDER….WHAT IF?”
Well, I took the leap and I went down that path. I quit college after a year at NAU, and I moved back to Phoenix to work at a health club. I trained and played and learned and improved. I turned Pro, and figured out how to fund myself to do so. I did it for six years, and I made it into the Top 20 in the world. I didn’t make a dime doing it; I spent way more money than I ever won. But I lived my dream, learned a ton, traveled all over the country, met amazing people, and answered the question of “What If?”. Because of this, I am a much happier person today, I am convinced of it. I didn’t have a clear path for a career while I was attending Northern AZ University, and the only expectation I had was to go to college and “make something of myself”, whatever the Hell that means. I wasn’t a great student to begin with, and had no real direction or degree I was pursuing. My future was uncertain and undefined, but I changed that. I took control, I did things to change my circumstances and ultimately my life.
I share my own example as proof that you can do it too. Don’t be complicit by staying put, by going with the flow of the river of life. SWIM TO SHORE AND GET OUT. Carve your own path, change things, take chances to improve your circumstances. Give yourself a real shot at a happy life. Even if you have to go it alone, you can make it. In most cases, you are the brave one, taking the chance to better your life, versus the rest who are scared but familiar with living life “as is”. Don’t get trapped doing something you dread, as it will suck the life out of you. I had a few jobs (temporarily) that were like that, and it is no way to live. If you are not happy, you can’t be made happy by a life partner, and you can’t make them happy either. DO THIS FOR YOURSELF, change your fate. Don’t wait until your sitting in a retirement home looking back at life thinking:
Damn…What if?
I wish you luck in your endeavors.

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