The Fortune Cookie




Photo of an open fortune cookie


Most of the time, when you get a fortune cookie, the message inside is anything but a fortune.  ‘Have a good day,’ or ‘Laughter is good for you,’ are pleasant and/or true but aren’t really fortunes either.  To be honest, the ‘fortune’ I got the other day can’t really be described as one either but I’ve kept it in large part because it’s true and sometimes we just need the reminder.


“Believe in yourself and you will succeed.”


Unless you’re one of those persons who are gifted with self-confidence or simply know that you are awesome (see Barney Stinson in HIMYM) then it’s easy to lose faith or wander off the path.  If you’re anything like me, you might feel as if you’re shouting into the great beyond or a vast, yawning chasm, straining for even just an echo of a response because you’re new and practically unknown.  In such instances, it is easy to get discouraged; when that nagging sense of self-doubt claws at you and you contemplate giving up.  Sometimes, all it takes is just that one outside voice to validate your presence, but when you lack even that, what do you do then?


You dig deeper and as my fortune told me, you believe in yourself.  Go ahead and cry if you have to; rage against the apparent apathy of the world or do whatever you need to so you can clear your head (I rather enjoy venting on a punching bag), and then come back and try again.  “It’s not how many times you fall down, it’s how many times you get back up.”  It would be folly to think that I won’t fail; in large part because experience has told me I will sooner or later and simply put, I am not perfect.


Life is a tough teacher, but not usually inordinately cruel.  If you’ve ever played sports or performed on stage, or even taken a test, then you’ve likely felt success in one way or another, but there are degrees to success too and opposite ends of the spectrum.  For about ten years of my life, I participated in track and field as a thrower, meaning I tossed the shot put, discus, hammer and weight as far as I could across the field.  I really enjoyed it and I believed in myself and my ability then, but there is a limit to your belief too.  I could believe that I was the best in that arena all I wanted to, but that didn’t automatically make it true.  Nor did it keep me from throwing myself over the toe-board in shot put or throwing out of bounds in any of the events.  In fact, the best I ever did was placing third once in the state competition.  No.  Believing in myself was instrumental in competing successfully, but it didn’t make me awesome by itself; just like believing I can fly using nothing more than my arms is simply not going to make that fantasy happen.


In the end, there’s more to success than a belief in one’s self.  As cliché as it may sound, most of the time we’ve actually got to work at being successful; training, reciting or simply practicing for hours on end to be good at something.  It’s a great starting point though.  If you don’t believe you can then you likely won’t, all things considered.  And even if you do believe, you may still have a long way to go.  I do believe I can get a book published (and I have to keep telling myself that all the time) but I know it’s going to take a lot more work than just writing it.  In hindsight, writing it was probably the easy part, due in no small part because I enjoyed it.  Can you consider it work when it’s fun?


Now I suppose is the point when I must dig deep and just keep reading my fortune.  Well, that and as my Beginning Writing Workshop instructor advised, just keep writing.  The more you do something, be it writing, playing sports, drawing, debating, blogging, or whatever strikes your fancy, the better you will become at it.  The better you become at something, the more you will succeed, even if no one else sees it because there is no failing when it comes to self-improvement.  Forward movement, no matter how slow, is still motion in the right direction.


So, as a reminder to myself and a thought for others, keep working at it and remember: “Believe in yourself and you will succeed.”  Maybe not today, tomorrow or even a year from now, but someday, because the only time you will truly fail is when you don’t even try.  If nothing else, try so that you have the opportunity to succeed or fail and if it happens to be the latter, learn from it and move on.  “If it is to be, it is up to me.”  I just heard my boss say this the other day at one of our meetings and it struck me as incredibly meaningful and pertinent to this article so I wanted to share it as well.  In farewell, be happy, be healthy, be successful and above all: keep trying!


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