This I Believe

Hannah - Little Falls, Minnesota
Entered on May 5, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: work

The Paradox of Hard Work

The story starts with a down- on-his-luck boy who is determined to make something of himself, and through motivation and hard work reaches his goal. I am not this boy, primarily because I am female, but also because I am not disenfranchised or down on my luck. I haven’t been discriminated against or ignored. This is not my story but it is personal to me. This story is the American dream and for me it encompasses the value of hard work that I so strongly believe in.

I believe in a work ethic. This value has been ingrained into my character since I was a child and now that I am older it is impossible to escape. My parents never told me life was fair. From early on they told me I had opportunities but in order to get these opportunities I would have to work hard. When they first started preaching this I rolled my eyes and played along but when I started high school I realized they were right. I did have to work hard. College was looming in the distant future and my parents didn’t have the money to help me out. I found the only way I would get to go to a school of my choice was through scholarships and this meant hard work.

The work ethic is valuable because it is a quality that a person can apply in many situations. Relationships are an example where work is required. Relationships, romantic or otherwise, take work and their success depends on the commitment the people in the relationship are willing to invest. Though this is true, the term “work” in context with relationships makes people uneasy. Work implies effort and this makes it seem as if the relationship is not natural. I have found that investing in relationships and working at them is necessary no matter how natural a connection two people have. Though it may be frustrating, in the end the work put into a relationship makes it more rewarding.

The work ethic can also be a hindrance. Sometimes I feel the faith I have in the work ethic gets in the way of my compassion for people in tough situations. When I worked as a cashier at Coborn’s Grocery Store I often dealt with people on food stamps. I found myself judging them for not working hard enough to support themselves. Instead of feeling for these people’s situations as a fellow human being, I criticized them. This criticism was unwarranted and unjust. It is impossible to determine why a person is in a particular situation and there are times when no matter how hard a person works, resolving situations requires more work.

I believe in a work ethic because my work ethic has allowed me to go to a college that I wouldn’t have had access to otherwise. Having a strong work ethic and a little bit of luck can get a person far in life. We cannot control the luck but we can control how hard we work.