Bittersweet Symphony

No I’m not talking about the song by The Verve. I got an email to this article from The Art of Manliness this morning, and it got me thinking. It could be argued that life is some sort of bittersweet symphony.

Now in writing this, I got kind of caught up in the “symphony” part of the analogy because of my years in band, and realized that I had gone on a complete tangent from what I had intended, so now after a delete of a mediocre paragraph, it’s back to my point.

Lately, I’ve been much more on edge and emotional due to the fact that I’m facing the end of college. Yes, it’s a time of celebration that I (finally) completed my undergrad degree. But at the same time, this is the first time that I have not had a general plan for the next six to seven months. In rejoicing that I never have to deal with the shitshow that is registration for classes ever again, I realized that in that little race to get the best professors, even if I didn’t get the “best” ones, I at least knew what I was doing.┬áIn any case, just as a melody sounds hollow without a harmony, the good loses meaning without the bad.

So the part of the article that stood out to me was the idea of trials and tribulations. To frame it in the religious sense, it’s the idea of “why do bad things happen to good people?” And for the first time, I finally found a suitable answer. It’s the trials and the tribulations where you find your true power, your strength, your virtue. Your reaction under duress shows your true character because you’re less likely to devote your energy to the facade.

Back in junior high and high school, my brother would go play paintball with my older cousin. And every time, he’d come home with a fairly large bruise somewhere on his body, and he’d show it off like a badge of honor. And I can honestly say, I never understood the idea of battle scars until now. It’s the idea that he was being pushed but held his own. He may not have gotten out unscathed, but he survived. He found his strength, his power, his identity. But without entering that gunfight, he would not have found that piece of his own self-actualization.

I started thinking about it more and more, and I started analyzing the people that I truly admire. And in each and every one of them, they have shown a form of resilience. Life threw them a few punches and they took the hit and fought back. They had their own “rite of passage” into adulthood in some form or fashion, which is more than I can say for a lot of people who are simply children sheltered in adult bodies.

But I digress. This is part of why this job application for this fellowship to the Centers for Disease Control has been something I’ve seriously had my heart set on. Throughout my life, throughout college, I’ve had most things handed to me on a silver platter. Not that I want some sort of catastrophe to happen, but I feel as though my life has been too easy. So with this CDC job, I feel as though this would be my test, my own rite of passage. It would be the first job that I got on my own, without help from family or friends, save for the letters of recommendation. Not only that, it would force me to move to what will likely be a completely unfamiliar place, where I’d have to stand on my own two feet. I wouldn’t be anyone’s “sidekick” or have a “big brother” type to tag along with and shelter me.

Because that’s been something seriously bothering me for the last few weeks. I’ve had comments made about my role as a “sidekick.” It’s all in good fun, and I took it as such in the moment, but the part of me that believes that there is truth in jest clutched onto that as a challenge. I may not be obvious about it, but I am strong. I am a fighter. I am a man. Here’s hoping I get this opportunity to prove it*.

* An explanation didn’t really fit well into this post, but according to the timeline set out by the CDC, I am to hear back from them whether I got an interview sometime this month. Which is why, I’m a little on edge to say the least.

// UPDATE 07/30/12: I didn’t end up getting that interview.

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