Check your potential, not your past

Oftentimes, when reviewing who got into what college or who succeeded in the job market, we analyze their pasts, scrounging for the details that might have made their path just the tiniest bit easier. Once we find a detail, we grasp onto it, letting that one thing hold all the reason for their admittance or success. These details come in various forms—wealth, background, upbringing, connections in general, and so on. But after finding this component, we tend to disregard and forget that despite the small leg-up or advantage they had, to get where they did still required considerable effort on their part.

To say someone’s success stems from these factors is not only an affront to the person’s intellect but to his character as a whole. In the same sense, it’s wrong to quickly undermine the achievements of others just because of the circumstances of their birth. To say that people have it easier just because of the area they live in, or other extraneous factors, is insulting to all they have accomplished. It’s saying all their efforts mean nothing.

In the context of applying to college, the argument goes that possessing certain advantages, like having a parent involved in the university network or alumni in the family, gives an edge to students applying for admission. To a small extent, this may be true. But it is wrong to assume that these privileges are the only factors that helped said student get into college.

Although people are born into different circumstances, a millionaire’s son and a blue-collar worker’s son are still born with the same capacity to succeed. Take a look at some of our U.S. presidents—Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both came from single-mother households and went on to become influential leaders in our country. They are human proof that there is no clause in life stating we have a limit to our achievements based on our birth.

The same idea can be applied to PHS. There are students who don’t use the learning opportunities and consequentially don’t do as well. Just because a resource like the Ideas Center exists does not mean that we are all guaranteed success. We don’t always use the resources given to us properly. This idea can be applied in the reverse—just because a school doesn’t have sufficient facilities does not mean its students are destined for failure. There is no single factor in a person’s life that gives him an inherent privilege. It is not enough to simply have opportunities; rather, it is important to use them the right way.

At the end of the day, no matter how much we wish, we can’t change the circumstances of our birth. But all of us have the capacity to mold the circumstances of our future. Instead of worrying about what we have or don’t have, we should look ahead and ask ourselves, “What can I achieve?” After all, we only have one life to live. Be thankful for the privileges you are born with, and don’t let the ones you are born without hinder your success.