This archived article was written by: Zak Konakis
We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. This law of cards holds true to even the toughest situations in life. Whether it may be moving onto the next level of academia, important job interviews or coping with the loss of a loved one, always remember that you cannot change the situations that life throws you. You can only change the way you react to situations.
I recently read a book, titled The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, Ph.D., a leading professor in the studies of virtual reality who also was able to serve a sabbatical for Disney’s Imagineers; working on the Aladdin virtual simulation that allows participants to fly on a magic carpet through the virtual Agrabah. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer which, after treatment, went into metastasis and spread into his liver in the form of 12 tumors. It’s pretty much self-explanatory that having a tumor going into something called metastasis is bad news. The same week of receiving the news of the 12 cancerous tumors in his liver, Pausch was invited to speak for Carnegie-Mellon’s lecture series: The Last Lecture. The lecture forces professors to mill over the idea- if this was the last opportunity to speak with these individuals, what would I let them know?
Now, I bring up this anecdote and background to explain why I am writing this column. Everyone has an innate yearning to make a difference and to impact the world, though we give up the dream, eventually, for any amount of reasons. It is like one day we run into the brick walls that come against us, though we must remember the brick walls are not there to stop us, they are there for us to prove how badly we want what we’re chasing. Adversity isn’t put in our way to stop you, it’s there to stop everyone else that’s chasing what you are.
Working on a film crew, I was able to observe many different people, but none were more likable than the director. He wasn’t arrogant, nor insecure. He had a positive sense of who he was and it didn’t take bragging for other people to know how good he was. I have taken that with me. People don’t need to hear how amazing you are, they can draw that conclusion for themselves. But don’t let the idea that you’re lesser than you are come into play. Insecurity is just as much of an annoyance as arrogance. Too often we mistake self worth with arrogance, but self worth is the accurate picture of self and arrogance is the illusion of self worth smeared over the cracks of insecurities.
If I walked into a second grade classroom and asked the children, “Which of you are artists?” most would raise their hands, but if I was to walk into an accounting class on campus and ask the same question, few would admit to having an artistic streak. Children are completely innocent and transparent with people, while adults have learned to know better, because of rejection. By doing this, we lose our humility and self worth at the same time.
More than just the book I have recently finished, this idea of real living and what it looks like has been appearing in all forms of entertainment from Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, Natalie Portman pleads with Dustin Hoffman’s character that he can’t die, he has to live. He simply smiles and says, “I’ve already done that.” in Pixar’s latest animated adventure Wall-E where the captain of the adrift community reasons with an onboard computer, “I don’t want to survive, I want to live.” It seems symptomatic, everyone knows there is more to life, but more and more people would rather live vicariously.