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If I Had…

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Paul Hudson

You hear it all the time: people making excuses. The timing just isn’t right… The circumstances aren’t what I believe they should be… I would get right on it if I only had (insert bullshit excuse here). I am an expert when it comes to making excuses because I have been making them for most of my life. I was always a bright person, even when I was just a young boy. I would be curious and eager to get working on different things. I picked up hobbies left and right, but never kept anything around for too long.

Even when I did stick with something for a decent amount of time, I nevertheless managed to find excuses. My hobbies and activities changed from year to year, but the one thing that did not change – the one thing that always remained a constant in the equation of my inevitable failure – was myself. Not only did I not change, but also never even stopped to think that the problem could possibly be not what I was doing, whom I was doing it with or what I believed I needed in order to do it. I never flinched before pointing the finger at everyone and everything around me, while what I should have been doing is pointing to the cocky schmuck grinning back at me in the mirror.

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I spent eleven years dancing. Believe it or not, ballroom dancing is a very competitive sport and quite popular in Europe. I spent eleven years of my life focusing on one sport – a sport that I believed I would be practicing for the rest of my life. I remember going to high school and telling my parents that I didn’t plan on bothering with college applications; I was going to be a professional dancer and didn’t need a ‘regular’ education. I was an arrogant little bastard. Throughout that decade, I had a large number of achievements.

I placed second in American dance competitions three times and was privileged to represent the USA in world championships in Moldova, Austria and Germany. I was the second best – something that many could and should be proud of – but for me, second was unacceptable. It meant that someone was better than me, and I could not wrap my brain around that concept. I knew I was very talented – everyone told me so. So what could the problem possibly be? There were only so many places I could point my finger.

If only I had better coaches… The first place couple had better coaches – that was true. So I reached out to their coaches, and they were happy to have me as a student; however, I remained in second place. So, I thought to myself, if I only had a better dancing partner… So I got myself a new partner – several times. And then, something very odd happened.

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I kept replacing the variables of the equation that I believed were weak or faulty, but nevertheless, the improvement that I was hoping for remained elusive. In fact, my results started to suffer. Time had its toll on me, and I was bumped up to older age groups – groups with dance couples that had been training together for years upon years. What turned out was that while I was busy daydreaming about “if I had” this or that, the rest of the competition was training. They were much more comfortable with their team, including their partner and coaches, than I was with mine. While they were able to work on technique, I had to start from scratch – regularly.

Now, the only “if I had” that I have left is: if I had only been wiser, less stubborn and less arrogant, then maybe I would have succeeded with my goals. People conjure up excuses for themselves all the time; most of the world’s population does it. What it all comes down to, realistically, is that people simply refuse to accept the fact that the reason for their failure is their own self. You can point your finger wherever you’d like and continually make extensive lists of your “if I had” options, but what it comes down to is that you are lying to yourself.

You are the problem, not the rest of the world. Believe me, if you believe yourself to be the hottest sh*t on the planet, and the rest of the world just sees you as plain sh*t, then guess what? You’re just plain sh*t. Most of us identify with the fact that our situations are not ideal. We understand that if we had it better, then we would have it easier. But who said life should be easy? What good are goals if they take no effort to achieve? No one’s situation is ever perfect and can always be improved. Most of the time we can’t change our situation, but we continue to focus on it and brood.

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Instead of doing something, such as improving ourselves, we mark our situation as poor and accept it at that. No matter how bad your situation, or how much better you believe it could be, you should always focus on how you can improve yourself. It doesn’t matter what kind of suit you are wearing, what kind of car you are driving, what kind of brush you are painting with or what kind of microphone you are recording with. If you are good, then you will be good via any media. Maybe the problem is that you’re not good.

You know that you are not good and just don’t want to admit that to yourself. It’s much easier to refuse accepting that others are better, than accepting that you need to use some elbow grease. I could have said f*ck it all and made myself train day-in and day-out, but I didn’t. I decided that I wasn’t the problem. I couldn’t accept my laziness for what it was. I believed myself to be too talented to have to put in any real effort. I had a whole lot of “if I had” this, or that. Now I just have a dead dream. Don’t do that to yourself.

Paul Hudson

Paul Hudson

Staff Writer

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