Debunking the Myths

In junior high, I thought I debunked a lot of myths.

I realized that fairy tale romances simply don’t happen in real life. I discovered that you got in trouble for doing bad stuff, and didn’t often get recognized for doing good stuff. And I figured out that it wasn’t true that I could become President of the Unites States if I set my mind to it.

No big event turned me from a trusting little girl into a world-weary teenager, unless you count my thirteenth birthday. I just made some small observations, and they led me to bigger observations. My mother was actually quite pleased that I was growing up into a more discerning kid.

I wasn’t mad for long about the platitudes I had been fed as a child. I figured that they were like the Santa Claus story, comforting banalities to be outgrown eventually, when the believer was ready to accept the harsher realities of adulthood. As I matured, I took great pleasure in finding cynical interpretations of everything I encountered, becoming very much the typical know-it-all adolescent.

I spent my twenties engaged in hard work and harder play. Getting along in the adult world was a struggle that took all my prodigious energy. Nothing could have been of less use to me than a bunch of outdated clich�©s.

I would never have admitted it then, but the biggest clichÃ?© of all turned me back around: the love of a good man. I fell in love with a man I’d been friends with for a few years, and he fell in love with me. I’d heard that when I met The One I would Just Know. I was amazed and amused to find that this was true. The infatuation didn’t wear off, and years after we married, I began to think that sometimes fairy tale romances do come true.

Somehow, my mind had remained open under all those years of cynicism and I began to examine the other myths I’d discarded so long before.

I had adopted the jaded view that we’re punished for doing bad stuff, but ignored for doing good stuff. That seemed to agree with human nature. Was there away around it, I wondered? What if I stopped doing the bad stuff? At that age, this meant partying and drinking, staying up too late watching cable and calling in sick to work the next morning, or waiting for a final notice before paying a bill. I decided to give it a try, and really worked hard at making responsible choices.

I discovered two things: first, I had an untapped genius for organization, and second, that there are incredible rewards for hard workers. I realized that when I was punished for bad stuff, I was actually being dismissed by those in authority. I saw, too, that I was not in fact ignored for good stuff, but rather finally taken seriously.

Amazingly, it seemed that the bromides of my childhood actually had meaning!

I faced the third platitude with interest. When people told me I could be the President of the United States, did they mean it? Well, maybe not specifically. They did mean, however, that I could do anything I set my mind to.

Could that be true? Again, I decided to give it a shot. I set about defining what I wanted most in life. This step was actually the hardest. It was easy to say that I wanted to work from home, but was it true? Or would I miss the company of co-workers, or fail without the structure of a nine to-five work week? Finally, decisions made, I put this myth to the ultimate test. I shot for the moon. I decided that I wanted to work for myself, from a home office, in Hawaii.

Six months ago, my husband and I moved to Hawaii, and I am typing this from my home office.

Of course, anything worthwhile in life takes an astonishing amount of hard work. I could indeed do anything I set my mind to, but it took more hours of education and labor than I thought were in me. But it also needed one critical ingredient: belief in the most ambiguous truism of them all.

In junior high, I thought I debunked a lot of myths. In my thirties, I embraced them all again. I’ve now tried both cynicism and faith, and after comparing their rewards, I can tell you that nothing can be accomplished unless you first believe. If you’re looking for something specific to believe, try some of the old clichÃ?©s you may have dismissed. Remember: success is a journey, not a destination. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. And, there’s no time like the present.

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