“Success is to be measured not so much by the position one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome.” This is my favorite quote written by Booker T. Washington.
As a child, I was taught to be considerate of others, but not humble. Humbleness came as a result of finding out life wasn’t as easy as I thought. It came from finding out people don’t always mean what they say, won’t always do what they should, and that no matter what I do I probably won’t get what I’m owed. And, since I am a flawed human being, I probably won’t make things easier for myself.
I’m not an ageist, and I recall when I was younger being very resentful of those who thought my business endeavors and dreams were “cute”, but definitely not to be taken seriously. So, as much as I hate to say this, in some situations age may correlate with behavior. It may effect what people say out their mouths, the assumptions they make about others, and an attitude of superiority because they are in the same position as people who are older. They seem to be completely unaware that you need to be able to honor others, even when you don’t know anything about them that could help you. You need to see greatness in those that don’t immediately support what your current version of success looks like, trust me it will change. Because honestly, no smart person spills their guts about who they are and what they have. They’ve worked too hard to get it, and to casually discuss it, is disrespectful to their journey. Then there are those that are older but have chosen to disregard the effort of those who are younger, and would like to justify the shared status as luck not ability.
That being said, I’ve also had my moments of immaturity that force me to be patient with those that have yet to have this epiphany. Years ago, I worked at my college career center for their work study program. We got visits from all kinds of people that needed help to get jobs, but they were typically young students. One day an older gentlemen came in. I don’t remember exactly what I said when he left, but it definitely mocked him for needing help from a career center typically reserved for twenty- somethings. I was immediately scolded by my supervisor who told me to never make fun of where someone was in their life. Even though I was only 19, much younger than the people I’m currently around who make crude comments based on their beliefs about people, I’m still very embarrassed about what I said and thankful I was corrected.
Since that time, I have had a few instances where I would take legal work any way I could get it. And, along the way it has been hammered into me from those I admire that the perceived success I think I have, because I may be doing more than those closest to me is really no big deal. I should instead be striving to be around a crowd that I am the least successful. Most importantly, being a person that is goal oriented and positive does not make you better than anyone, because you are only doing what you should be, which is something.
These experiences have taught me to think before I speak, to prevent me from easily offending someone who could potentially be a critical connection in my future that is disguised as “Joe the Plumber”, or yours truly. Someone that brings her lunch to work, her own coffee, and car pools with her husband. I’m fortunate to have learned that extravagance isn’t needed at my level but preparing for greatness through responsibility, and respect for others is.
Rachel Bryant Lundy