Wrong, Yoda Was

Upon running into a friend of mine recently, and asking the basic questions of, “Hi, how are you? What’s new? How’s it going with that guy…” she informed me that they had just broken up.

“It sucks, because I was so excited, so I told everyone about it, so now I have to tell everyone that it’s over,” she said.

It’s funny, because I feel like that sentiment is the exact thing I’ve been feeling for the past two months.

At the beginning of June, I completed my package to submit to the Air Force to become an officer. No more tests, paperwork, or days spent in medical processing. Just radio silence for three months until I hear back about their decision on whether or not to accept me.

The process had become such a large part of my life, and I was of course excited, so I had told everyone, “GUYS, I’M GOING TO TRY AND GO FLY PLANES AND BE AN ASTRONAUT.” It’s cool and after a year of struggling to figure out how to get where I wanted to go in my career, I was happy to have that direction.

But then the busyness died down and it hit me like a bag of bricks. If I don’t get accepted, I have to tell everyone. I can’t privately wallow in my rejection. I have to admit failure.

Again.

My brain tends to operate on the binary. I’m an intense person, to put it mildly. I’m an immovable mountain or a rocket that goes at 1,000 mph. Of course, I understand nuance and see the grey that colors so much of the world, but on many things at a personal level, it’s all still very black and white. Anything that is not a success is, by nature, a failure. Or, as Yoda put it, “There is no try, only do. Or do not.”

But, life is not a binary system. It is a constellation of contradictions, colliding and coexisting. And trying, especially after having done so many times before, is no small feat. To pull yourself back up, and try again is the mark of tenacity and courage. There are some things in life that are successes, some things that are failure, some neither, but most are both.

The human race as a whole could easily be written off as a failure. We keep having wars, inventing terrible economic systems, committing genocide, and for reasons beyond understanding, keep up with the Kardashians.

Yet here we are, as we always have been, trying to stop the wars we started, sending aid to those in need, pushing ourselves to to innovate, and in general, getting back up. The individual is as complicated as the whole, and no one is either a “do or do not.” All of us are trying, and that is itself, remarkable.

I came home the other evening after speaking with my friend, and sat across my dining room table with my roommate. I told her what happened, and said how I understood the feeling. She looked at me and said,

“Rebecca, I do not think any less of her for being excited about her relationship. I do not think any less of her for trying, regardless of the outcome. She was happy, and being happy in the moment is important.”

I looked back at her and thought about how I’ve been feeling since I graduated and have tried to start my career- tired, and as if my dreams were so very far away. I felt that my continued attempts at trying to get where I wanted were simply a constant barrage of rejections, and a disappointment to both myself and everyone around me. I thought of all the people who have always expected such great things, and here I was letting them all down.

Sarah June knew this is how I saw things.

“I do not think less of her, and no one will think less of you, for trying.”

I nodded.

I’m lining up my back ups, in case the Air Force decides there are better options for them. I’ve begun the arduous task of sending out resumes and applications from everything to USAID to to local jobs with the city of Arlington. After the DNC, I’m certainly looking at trying to go work for Cory Booker. I even went and met with the Peace Corps. I’ll get to NASA one day, and I intend to keep on going down different paths, until I find the one that leads me there. It’s either that or sit down and stop trying, but that doesn’t really sound like me.
Yoda was wrong. No offense, but there is always a try, and it is not worthless. True failure is not a lack of success, but rather a lack of trying.

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