Surprise Yourself

“I’ve made up my mind,” he says after a while, “if they take off my leg, I’ll put an end to it. I won’t go through life as a cripple.”

Skimming through All Quiet on the Western Front, this line jumped out at me and caught my eye. During the scene, the main character, Paul, and his friend Albert are being bombarded by gunfire and shells in the midst of World War 1 when Albert is suddenly hit just above the knee by the shrapnel of a nearby shell exploding. Dragging themselves exhausted away from the chaos,the line above escapes Albert’s lips; vowing to kill himself if he should become an amputee from his sustained injury.

How we look at each and every setback that is placed in front of us is greatly important to the success in which we conquer the next challenge we face; in school, in athletics, in life. Whether that setback is a bad grade, an unsatisfactory race, or a conflict with your significant other, the way you react to it will always need to be considered. Now, this is not to say that somehow you should try to prevent any setbacks from happening because let’s face it: they’re inevitable. However, negative response to one can be described as an exponential reaction: it builds constantly, continuously, one on top of the other until you are overwhelmed. By this point it is nearly impossible to regain one’s “momentum” in whatever task or endeavor you’re pursuing. No, you don’t need to be happy with setbacks, and I don’t imagine that you live in some alternate universe where you would be. But, in order to realize your next challenge with success, you must first lift the burden of negative thinking that sits upon you from previous setbacks. Take them, learn from them, and let them go. They’re in the past and you cant’ change them, so stop worrying about them. Focus on the future, and you’ll pull through. This is where perspective takes such a huge role in success.

Always be considering other perspectives, other methods, other ways of living throughout the course of your chasing whatever goal or standard you’ve set in front of yourself. Because I know you have something of that sort that you’ve set before yourself; whether it be relating to athletics, academics, or the way you interact with, or appear to others, it’s there. And realistically, at some point or the other, you’re going to fail. But that shouldn’t stop you, and won’t, if you adopt a positive attitude toward things. Stay strong and carry on; with a passion! Because you know how I said that negativity builds exponentially?-it’s even more so with positivity and success. Who knows, you might even surprise yourself.



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