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January 5, 2013

A Word of Advice: Hard work pays off in many ways

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The Daily Star

---- — Success isn’t found, success is bled through hard work and dedication. 

Through my recent life, this has been something I have lived by. With every passing day of my sophomore year, I’ve come to realize more and more that no matter your natural skill level in a certain area of study or work, you’ll only get to the top of your field by breaking yourself past your limit, and then some. 

Throughout my middle and high school careers, I was an OK student, always told by teachers that I had lots of potential. More often than not I chose to ride this “potential” as long as I could, skipping out on homework assignments, and opportunities to study for tests and quizzes. In all honesty I felt that I worked hard enough already, and that I deserved a “break” from all of my work.

Well, as a result of the mixing of human natures of procrastination and entitlement, I kept on convincing myself that my teachers were just slave-drivers out to make me work and work and work for nothing.

Eventually reality hit me. My last quarter of ninth grade, a lot of rough things happened to me, pushing me to my breaking point, and I hardly worked on school at all. My final average for that marking period, 86. Now relatively speaking that was way under par for my usual 89s, and though that’s the best a lot of people could do, that wasn’t something I thought my parents would be happy about. I began to look at my academic ethics.

“Am I dumb? Is this just the best I can do?” I thought to myself. Then it came to me, I had never worked as hard as my overachieving friends. They were always up until the crack of dawn working on homework, and I was sitting around playing games and other trivial nonsense at those hours, blowing off my homework because I felt I was too good to do it. So I did an experiment my first 10th-grade marking period. I worked as hard as I could and did all of my homework, studying for each major exam.   

The results were fantastic. I had a 92 overall GPA and for the first time in years made the high honor roll. I felt amazing, like I had removed a bloodsucking crustacean from my back that had been incapacitating my abilities in life for years. I was proud of myself, the people around me were proud, and I knew I was working as hard as I could. That increase in work ethic helped me do lots in a short amount of time, including winning class presidency and becoming a columnist at this newspaper.   

I also learned I could always work harder though. Study sessions got longer, personal schedules became tighter, and my grades rose. I managed a 94 this last marking period, and I truly felt I earned it. Before in those darker days of laziness, I felt sadness that I wasn’t doing anything special or successful with my life, but finally I had a reason to feel that I really was doing something good for myself.

It makes me sad to see kids going through life feeling that they just can’t succeed. Most call themselves dumb, simply saying that higher studies are just beyond them. Something to consider in this is that, while neurological horsepower may be a finite resource, effort is not. Effort can make up what we lack naturally. Yes, some people can skate along through school, no studying, and pull perfect grades, but most of us have to study, work, sweat and break our backs over doing our best work possible. 

When you truly work to the point you can’t even think anymore, or if you’re doing physical work, move, you’ll probably get the same results as those no effort wonder-children, but you’ll also have something they won’t. You’ll have full knowledge that you put your heart, soul and every other internal organ in your body into your work, and that because of it you proved to yourself that you really are capable of amazing things. 

People’s capacity for success is unlimited, the only question to ask yourself to reach your ultimate success is if you can break the limits you THINK you have. Only then will your capacity and ability skyrocket like you never thought it could, as your limits seemingly fade away.

Austin Czechowski is a sophomore at Cobleskill-Richmondville High School. Would you like A Word of Advice from him? Send him an email at adviceaustin@gmail.com, or send him a letter to “Teen Talk: A Word of Advice,” C/O The Daily Star, P.O. Box 250, Oneonta, NY 13820. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/teentalk.