Hard Work Paved My Road
“Hard work pays off, you get what you put in. So why stop now? Gotta keep pushin’. We in a fight to the finish. So why not fight until you’re finished?” I listen to this Juelz Santana song before football games, during workouts, while doing homework, and basically every opportunity possible. Juelz Santana and his hip-hop song, “The Second Coming,” always remind me to give one hundred percent in everything I do. Those three lines are always motivating me and driving me to succeed. As a freshman in high school, my baseball coach ingrained the value of hard work into me, and that value has stayed with me since. I believe that the harder you work and the more you work, the greater your results will be. I’ve heard the saying, “Hard work pays off, you get what you put in,” at every level of my life and each time it has had a different meaning.
When I was child, this phrase meant very little to me. I constantly overlooked it and certainly never applied it. But at that stage of life, the only people who were putting this adage to use were those who weren’t experiencing the childhood full of playgrounds, videogames, backyard sports, and staying home “sick,” yet instead were training to become the newest member of Forbes Magazine’s 20 Richest People on Earth list. In elementary school, you could easily get by without actually applying yourself. The only expectation was to complete the weekly homework assignments and pass the five question multiple choice tests, and then you were on par with the valedictorian. I certainly didn’t work hard and also didn’t learn the value of hard work.
The older I got, however, I realized that recess and nap time were a thing of the pass and I had to actually apply myself. High school was the first time I was able to put this saying to the test. Starting with my freshman year, I handled high school the way I treated my previous school experience: as a joke. I attempted to cruise along like I had done in middle school but soon realized that this approach was not going to turn out like it had in the past. After a few C’s and one too many parent-teacher conferences, I decided to try a new method and actually put forth some effort. I gave it all I had for the rest of the year, but the damage had already been done. Unfortunately, I still only earned B minuses. Receiving my report card was the first time that I had seen my lack of effort adversely affect my results. I quickly found out that I wasn’t in middle school anymore. Next semester, I shaped up and worked as hard as I could, and it paid off. I made high honor role and was nominated president of my class.
That same year, I experienced varsity sports for the first time. I didn’t work to my potential in practice and was soon sent back down to the junior varsity level in baseball. With the unforeseen demotion, I was quickly reminded of my freshman status and I understood that to make it at the varsity level I wasn’t going to be able to slack off. With my one mistake of not practicing as hard as I could have, I was left on the junior varsity team for the rest of the year. My coach later explained to me that my year on junior varsity wasn’t due to my talent, but rather due to my work ethic. That spring season, I played the best baseball I had played to that point in my life. I hustled out every ground ball, finished first in every sprint, and was the last one out of the weight room. The lesson my coach reinforced was that my natural talents were going to take me nowhere in life if I couldn’t apply them and make them better through hard work. He was the first one to really instill this belief in me.
As I matured both mentally and physically, working hard started to pave my path. The more I strove, the further I got. I was making honor role every semester, sustaining my role as class president, and continuing my success on the baseball diamond as well as the football field. It went the other way, too. Whenever I decided to slack off and not use my abilities to the fullest, the results showed, and they were far more immediate and obvious. One missed homework assignment or one night where I didn’t study for a test would kill my grade, when one completed assignment wouldn’t change it. One bad day at the plate would destroy my average, yet going two for three would only slightly raise it. Seeing the difference of slightly failing and slightly succeeding pushed me to always try and work as hard as possible.
Conversely, I have seen people choose the other path and not use their natural talent and their mind. One of my good friends is the brightest person I have met. In sixth grade while I was still covering long division, he was doing eighth grade math consisting of algebra and geometry. When high school came around, however, he was just another student walking the halls of Cohasset High School. He would get nineties or above on every test but wouldn’t complete homework assignments. His grades were always average as he maintained a 3.0 grade point average throughout high school. For some, that is hard to do, but for my friend, he was getting these grades with no effort. If he had put forth the slightest bit of effort, he would have been valedictorian. Now, he should be going to school at Harvard or Yale, but due to his negligent attitude toward work, he’s attending University of Connecticut, which is very good for where he could be. I saw him waste potential and I decided I was not going to do the same.
This year, I have recognized that I must work to my highest potential to get accustomed to the workload of college. It is essential that I push myself as hard as possible in order to be at the level at which I dream to be. Also, I have to work hard in the gym to make sure I don’t gain the infamous “freshman fifteen.” Ultimately, I aspire to one day work on Wall Street. This has been a goal of mine since I was very young when I learned that my father was a stockbroker. Also, it offers nearly certain financial security and forces me to stay focused at all times. In order to reach my dream, I will have to work as hard as possible in at least the next four years of school, and not stop there. After securing a job, I have dreams to raise a family and be able to support them. Through hard work, all of this is possible.
Without a strong work ethic, I would not be where I am today. The Juelz Santana song does put it best as he uses the old saying, “Hard work pays off, you get what you put in.” This simple phrase has defined the last four years of my life and only I can decide how far it will take me. I believe in the value of hard work.
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