Don’t Listen to the Naysayers
We experience life lessons at every turn. Some lessons are big, some are small, but when we listen to them, each one offers insight and has the potential to guide us in the right direction. The key is to step back when something isn’t going our way and ask a simple question: why is this happening? The answer may not be forthcoming in that moment, but when we understand the reason, the lesson will appear.
A few months ago, I experienced a simple, frustrating mishap that afterward gave me a piece of invaluable wisdom. My daughter and I had spent a few days college touring in Washington, D.C. When we first arrived in our nation’s capital, we had flown into DCA, Ronald Regan National Airport, which was conveniently located a short distance from our hotel. Following our D.C. visit, we were flying to Syracuse, NY, where my daughter had an early-morning interview scheduled in the admissions office. Arriving at the airport with a little more than an hour to spare, we made our way to the security line. The TSA agent shook his head when he looked at our ticket and told us we were at the wrong airport and that we should go to the United counter to see if we can get on another flight.
Trying not to panic, we made our way to the ticket line and explained the situation to the agent. Taking his time and making loud smacking noises with his gum, he searched his computer and said that because it was a holiday weekend we didn’t have many options. The best he could do was put us on a late-night flight to Newark, and then we could take an early flight out the following morning, which, of course, would mean my daughter would miss her interview. I asked the man how long it would take to drive to Dulles Airport. With a smirk on his face, he informed us that it was rush hour and we’d never make it on time. The agent standing next to him agreed, and the woman behind me in line also reiterated that we wouldn’t make it. Something in my gut told me to ignore them, and so I looked at my daughter and said, “Let’s take our chances.”
Bolting through the airport, we jumped into an Uber. I told the driver we were in a rush and begged him to get us there as fast as possible. Staring at the clock, my heart raced as I watched the minutes accelerate at a rapid pace. Meanwhile, my driver channeled Mario Andretti, weaving in and out of traffic along the highway at top speed. Miraculously, we arrived at the airport with fifteen minutes to spare. After we had finally made it on board, sitting comfortably next to my daughter, I looked at her with a victory grin and shared my enlightened wisdom: if you want to reach success in life, you need to follow your gut and ignore the naysayers along the way. You may not always win, but unless you try—unless you go for it—you’ll never know what’s on the other side.
Naysayers are omnipresent. They’ve been speaking to us since we exited the womb, telling us what we can’t do, spreading negativity and fear into our psyches. To conquer our dreams, it’s important to overcome these forces and squash the inner and outer voices that perpetually bombard us. Right now, as I write this, my daughter and her friends are anxiously waiting to hear whether the colleges they applied to will accept or reject them. As painful as it is to receive bad news, it’s important to remember that the admissions officers can be naysayers too. Denying a student admission to a school, especially when it’s believed to be a critical stepping stone to a chosen career path, can be devastating––but it’s not the end of the game—it’s just a sign that maybe you need to take a different path. Humans are like Gumby dolls: malleable, flexible, and able to twist and turn in different directions to suit our needs. And when the time is right, we must maintain a positive mindset, stand tall, open our arms wide, and be willing to undergo a metamorphosis to reach the best and highest forms of ourselves.