This I Believe

tim - johnson city, New York
Entered on September 23, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
Themes: work

I was standing there, back to a fieldstone wall, next to a crackling fireplace, listening to the friendly chatter of fellow campers within an open-air pavilion built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. I was hoping that I would fit in and be welcomed by the young adults around me, but it seemed futile. I like people, but am naturally shy. I really wanted to find a good woman, but I was reticent because I knew I was a “different sort of guy” who isn’t easily understood. I had noticed an attractive woman ably conversing with others near a rock framed window. Her radiant smile and bright eyes were magnetic. I had to muster the courage to “make a move”. But how?

I spotted her exiting through the glass-less window. Before she disappeared from view among the moonlit redpine trees, I watched her execute a cartwheel. I was captivated. I pushed off the wall and strode out of the pavilion after her. I caught up to her, introduced myself, and started a friendly conversation. She seemed interested in whom I was so much that after extended pleasantries, I popped the shy but earnest question: “Would you like to smooch?” She gave me a side-glance, made some subtle evaluations, and said “yes”. It was the start of a 24-year relationship with a woman who “didn’t want a man, didn’t need a man” and who had many to choose from. It was my perseverance that earned me the privilege of her attention. I merited her trust through my devotion to her and her son over the years that followed, as she allowed herself to open her heart to me despite deep wounds from a previous marriage.

I believe in the power of “stick-to-it-ness.” I believe that persistence creates favorable outcomes in two simultaneous ways. Perseverance is equated to dependability by the world at large. At the same time, when one is consistently able to exert the will power to act, even when inertia or doubt exists, self-esteem is earned, and growth is manifest.

These points are reinforced through the story of how I landed my first professional job. I was an above-average college student with a passion for the sea. An upbringing and education in upstate New York didn’t particularly lend itself to a career in oceanography. However, soon after graduation, I set off for Florida to explore an employment opportunity at a research institution.

After numerous interviews, it became apparent to me that qualified as I was for the job, I was competing with straight-A students who had financial and personal backing that I did not. After five months of frustration, doing odd jobs, and insisting to my interviewers that “you are going to hire me or shoot me; please choose the former”, I was hired.

Regarding my life partner and my career, doggedness made the difference. Perseverance has brought joy to my life and opportunities for growth and self-awareness. This I believe.