Monday, September 29, 2003

It's All in How You Play the Game

This was in an editorial column a while back in the Daily Illini, and I have been meaning to type in up because it summarized a lot of things I feel about people in general.

Richmond, Rachel, "Learning to Play the Game," Daily Illini (24 September 2002), p. 11.

I don't think The Stones could have said it better when they wrote, "You can't always get what you want." Besides the fact that song is great, it holds such reality. We can't have everything the way we want it - that would be too perfect. If I had everything I wanted, I would be a hot lady with a diploma on my way to owning a magazine with money in the bank and a great house in the mountains. But instead I look like me. I'm still stuck in school, working at a restaurant, bringing in minimal funds and living in a crappy house in Lubbock, Texas. So much for glamour. But, I wasn't dealt the ideal hand.

Allow me to explain. See, everyone is dealt a hand of certain cards, and you can play them how you like. Some people sit out of the game and some can play all night. But, no matter how awful the hand is right now, it doesn't mean you are stuck with those cards forever. You can trade them for a better set and keep playing. You'll waste away the cards dealt to you if you keep wishing you had the ace of spades instead of the two of diamonds you are holding. Just deal with it.

I think I spent the first half of my life wishing I was someone that I wasn't, as a lot of people do. I always thought, "If I was just smarter" or "If I was just better looking" or "If I was better at this," then things would go my way. Little did I know that life is not supposed to go the way we want it to. Dumb kid. But, as a dumb kid, I was learning how to play the game.

My hand in the academic department has never been great - definitely more street smarts than book smarts. I'm awful with numbers. Let's just say math was never my strong point. I should've seen it coming in fourth grade when all my friends were in the smart math class. I was there for about a week until the teacher booted me out and I had to go to the "numerically challenged" class - basically math for dummies. I'm allowed to be politically incorrect about that class because I was in it. What a blow to my 10-year-old ego.

But I realized just because I would never be able to balance my checkbook without a calculator didn't mean I wasn't good at anything else. I can whip out a paper on anything in less than an hour, so I focused on that, as well as attending tutoring for math.

I was born with a speech impediment. Yeah, not being able to say your "r's" is real cute up until about third grade, especially with a name like Rachel Richmond. I had to leave class every day to attend a speech session - as if the math thing wasn't bad enough. But after three years, I kicked the problem and could speak beautifully. It just took a lot of work.

A big pet peeve of mine is when someone doesn't particularly care about a quality they have, yet think it's OK to complain about it constantly without even attempting to fix it. No, no, no. Nobody has a right to complain unless they have tried or are currently trying to fix it. A good friend of mine was a bit overweight and would always complain about it.

Finally I told him he was not allowed to utter any words about his dislike until he got off the couch and did something about it. He started running and is now at the ideal weight for him. He traded in that two of diamonds for the ace of spades. Good for him.

Everyone has weaknesses and everyone has strong points. Honestly, everyone is good at something. I used to work at an after-school program with children and caught one of them saying, "I'm not good at anything" out of pure frustration.

I told the kid that was not true and he was good at something. The kid told me I was stupid and didn't know what I was talking about. I punished him to a corner and thought to myself, "That kid is good at telling people off." Like I said, everyone is good at something.

Basically, you can't spend your entire life wishing you had something else, or looked like someone else, or were as good as something else. If you spend your life wishing for other things, you will end up unfulfilled and miserable.

Life is a trade-off. Some cards you hold are so great you shouldn't trade them for anything and some cards could go. It's all how you play the game. Focus on your good points and you bad points won't look so bad after all. Because "if you try sometime you might find you get what you need."

Rachel Richmond is a columnist for the University Daily at Texas Tech University.

You may be able to view the original article at the University Daily here.

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