by Jake Block
There are times in life when we want to do something… be something… own something, but we don’t meet the qualifications for the object of our desire, so we have but two options. We can either work to remedy our inadequacies to come up to the requirement that has been set, or we must re-examine our desires and expectations and settle for what we are able to have, or accomplish with what we presently have at our disposal. One thing is certain: the worlds of finance, employment, education and even interpersonal relationships aren’t going to change just because we want them to. Life is at best a seller’s market, and unless you can afford the price, you are out of luck.
What are some ways we might find that we are disqualified in life? Well, let’s look at the financial state of affairs we are in. We might REALLY like to have that house on the hill with the manicured grounds and pasture for horses, an in-ground pool and four car garage. Who wouldn’t? But reality reigns supreme, and the reality is that if you don’t have the minimum income to make the down payment and maintain a steady payment on the mortgage, you’re going to have to settle for something more modest as a dwelling and maybe even a rental. There’s no shame in being a renter. Some fine people rent their apartments and homes. They drive ONE car, and make payments on a Chevy vs Lexus or Lincoln. They opt for USDA SELECT cuts of beef, rather than CHOICE or PRIME to save a little money and, really, if you know how to cook, braising or marinating a SELECT cut can make it very tasty when cooking on a budget. But the realities of cash flow and income considerations show us the value of saving and budgeting to make the most of our situations.
Education is another example where we can be disqualified, even though we might certainly desire a prestigious degree from some Ivy League college or other educational institution. Well, as much as we might all like to go to Harvard or Yale, the reality is that most people are disqualified on the basis of academic achievement in pre-college level studies. To even be considered for most Ivy League schools, you need straight As throughout your high school career, extra credit for community service and/or apprenticeships and, like it or not, social engineering equity points (affirmative action) credits based on race, sex, or disability. Sometimes you can max out all of the above and still be denied simply on the volume of applicants for any given school vs the slots available for consumption.
After I retired from the military, I went to the University of California at Davis to inquire about getting into college to complete my degree that I had started working on while in the military. The pleasant lady in the registration office thanked me for my service and advised me that I was wasting my time. First, I ONLY had a 3.85 GPA in a 4.0 system. The fact that I did a career in the military (20 years) gave me a small boost, but “I’m sorry, sir, but unless you are a minority or a woman or both, I’m afraid that we just don’t have room for you at Davis, and I think that you’ll find it’s the same throughout the UC system.”
So, being that there were qualifications that I simply could not meet, the only thing to do was to change my expectations and go at success in another way. Eventually, I was able to reach my employment goals and became a success working for a major corporation, making good money and retiring at 52. But it involved getting an education from a less prestigious seat of higher education as well as working my way up through the corporate system. I had good qualifications for the traditional route to success, but was disqualified because of social inequity and an overburdened system, but settling for less just wasn’t an option, so I found another way. And that, my friends, is the key.
Life is like any roadmap you care to find. All roads eventually lead to Rome, but some of them are superhighways and others might be two lane thoroughfares and still others could be barely adequate, dirt or asphalt lanes that take you “through the burbs” until eventually the bright lights of the city beckon far off in the distance and you plod on until you eventually reach your goal. But there’s the point. If you plod on, even on the dusty dirt and asphalt roads, you can eventually reach your goal, and isn’t that what really matters?
Now, a lot of the “self help gurus” out there will tell you not to get discouraged, and feed you a line of crap about how you can be the best you can be by taking their often vastly over-priced course of study. BE ALL YOU CAN BE, even if all you can be is a line cook at Burger Barn! $159.50… and it comes with an autographed picture of Ben Bobo, Burger Magnate. “A fool and his money” comes to mind. I’m here to tell you that you SHOULD get discouraged, and you SHOULD get mad and you SHOULD decide that enough is enough and realize that if you can’t get there from here, YOU need to find another way! OK… lest I sound like one of those self help gurus, I have to tell you that there are some times that you just aren’t going to succeed at what you wish to do. It happens. Look at the number of engineers our college system cranks out every year. It’s not certain that their sheepskin is going to land them a job with some prestigious firm. One can hope, but there are indeed engineers with degrees driving cabs or working lesser jobs in offices across the land, so I’m telling you that keeping all of your eggs in one basket is as bad an idea now as it has ever been. Always keep and eye out for the alternative way to success. Don’t be rigidly fixated on one position, ignoring all other opportunities! It’s foolish to starve because one had hoped for steak and found that only fish and chips was available.