This I Believe – Hard work pays off

From 1951 to 1955, renowned journalist Edward R. Murrow hosted “This I Believe,” a daily radio show where individuals read brief essays about their personal philosophies, values, and core beliefs that shaped their daily actions.

In 2005, National Public Radio resurrected the essay series and again invited Americans of all ages and perspectives to write brief essays about their core beliefs. This year, the Advocate also invites anyone in the MHCC community to contribute the same.

“If it was easy, everyone would do it,” my dad reminds me when I complain about school, work, and balancing it all in one jumbled life.

My parents are the hardest workers I’ve ever seen. It’s because of my parents that I don’t expect any favors, handouts, or get-out-of-jail-free cards. I see how they appreciate the smallest things in life, because they’ve had nothing given to them. Nothing. And like them, I have learned the satisfaction that comes with earning something instead of taking it.

When I was 15, I got my first summer job picking and selling berries at a farmers’ market on the weekends. My job seemed like it consumed most of my life that summer, but I was happy to start finally making money so I could begin saving to buy my first vehicle.

After three months of berry-stained hands and a wicked farmer’s tan, I had saved what seemed like all the money in the world to put towards a reliable ride. In reality, I hardly had enough money to afford the project vehicle I had fantasized about ever since I first learned how to turn a wrench. But after months of Craigslist searching, I was the proud owner of a 1971 Ford short bed pickup: an American classic, equipped with a 5.9 liter V8 engine that struggled to get above 9 miles per gallon. Any hard acceleration would reward you with a pop and backfire out the carburetor, and none of the lights worked. I barely made it home before it broke down.

Regardless, I was the happiest kid in the world because I had worked so hard to earn every bolt, every ounce of rust, and every classic car lover’s admiring glance from that point on.

If you take something, it’s either something that shouldn’t have been taken, or it’s something that you should expect to give back. But when you earn something, you have complete moral ownership of that item along with an appreciation for what it took to get it. Not only do you get respect from others, you get self-respect as well.

That feeling motivates me to try to be the best version of myself. This could mean getting a job even though it involves long hours of uninterrupted hard work. It could mean covering a co-worker’s shift even when I didn’t want to. It could mean showing up to work even if I didn’t feel like it. Or it could mean persevering through a difficult class, because I know it’s something I need to do.

At the end of a long day, I’m glad to have the callouses on my hands and the dirt in my boots, because I know at 18 years old I’ve already learned a valuable lesson that many haven’t: If it was easy, everyone would do it.

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