|Failure is the Antagonist|
I grew up in a town of under 60,000 in Indiana. My family had lived there for generations, everyone knew my family name. My dad and my grandpa had helped build many of the important buildings there, along with several churches. I had a cousin on every corner and yet, I never felt like I fit in. I always felt like "an outsider."
The town itself was highly networked with old money, old ways and old ideas. With that came quite a bit of corruption in the local government and law enforcement. And in addition to that, what I call a "factory mentality" brought on by the many car factories that surrounded the town. "Factory mentality," permeated the belief systems along with the conservative "bible belt" and heavy Amish influence. It was no surprise that I didn't want to raise my family there.
So, when we moved to Wyoming, I expected to be the outsider. I understood the cultural norms and social order that take over in a town of less than 100,000 people. It just happens; only so many are committed to staying. Only a handful fall in love with the lifestyle, and those survivors kind of earn the right to make decisions. Bring old money to the table, combined with who you know, and you can easily get things done. I knew what I was signing up for, but I knew the good would far out way the bad and I could make my way.
Even though I don't always fit in, growing up in a large family in the Midwest, I learned how to form my support system. I haven't lived in a whole lot of places, but I have traveled to several countries, and lived in the mega city, and I make friends fast. I find my allies, invest in the relationship, and keep my feet on the ground. Moving to Cheyenne was no different. Within a couple of months of being here, I knew pretty quickly who my friends were, but I also knew learning who my adversaries were might take a little more time. It is a little bit scary, but if you are patient, life brings problems, and it is through life's hard times we learn who our true friends and worst adversaries are.
This was highlighted for me recently through a few random conversations. One of my friends who grew up in Cheyenne was telling me he still feels like an outsider after all these years. I actually never took the time to question whether or not I was, or if anyone else had an opinion on the matter. I know I am supposed to be here, I have never loved a place so much, so I just go forward without asking how anyone else sees me; whether or not I am accepted. But here is someone who has lived here his whole life, built a successful business, raised a family and he feels like an outsider in his own hometown. It got me thinking back to how I felt growing up too.
I always felt like an outsider in Indiana, but I have never felt like one here. Remember that "factory mentality" that I referred to? Well, here is how that works, people tell you what you can and cannot do based on their own opinion. For me it was often related to my intelligence. I am super smart and I usually think outside of the box. I see a problem, I turn it over and I usually come up with a crazy solution that no one else has tried. To that the answer would be, "you can't do that, no one has ever done that, so you can't do that." I craved education, so I wanted to go to college...to that the answer was, "do you think you are better than us? who do you think you are miss smarty pants going to college?" Yep, people actually said these things out loud.
I am convinced these are some of the many phrases that Mark Wahlburg heard growing up too. He loves to play the Rocky Balboa character in movies. Just watch him in The Fighter. You will see the mentality I am talking about unfold before your eyes. As Mark struggles to become the hero (the Protagonist) of his own life, his own family plays the Antagonist and throws failure in his face. But it wasn't really his family, or his culture, it was the Antagonist...the Antagonist is everywhere. You cannot run from him. He is in big towns and small, old money and new, government, school, work, economy and capitalism. The Antagonist is... failure.
The Antagonist's role is to keep us from becoming the Protagonist of our own lives. The Protagonist, the advocate, the leading lady, the Champion.
Since moving to Wyoming, several people have actually told me that I can live here my whole life, but "I will always be an outsider." Within minutes of hearing it, I will be a little girl in Indiana, I can hear the words echo, "you can't do that" in my head...I feel completely defeated. I know people don't mean to make you feel that way, but I don't think they realize they have raised a weapon against me. The weapon is...failure. "You will never"...failure. "You can't do that"...failure. "You don't deserve"...failure. "This town will never change"...failure. "Your business will never succeed"...failure. You will never get a promotion...failure!
I hate to spoil the plot, but its the same story everywhere you go. You cannot run from the Antagonist. The Antagonist will try to railroad you, buy you out and bully you wherever you go! The Antagonist is failure and if you move away... it will follow you! The only way to win is to stand and fight. But the good news is, the Protagonist always, eventually wins. It takes time, patience and perseverance. The perseverance is the hardest part, because Failure is the Antagonist.
I often wonder if the Earnhardts and Pettys of the world, who can rightfully say that they built NASCAR...I wonder what they say to the Johnsons and Gordons? All four champions...do they talk to each other this way? or are they all the Protagonists? They are all the Protagonists...the Antagonist if failure! Real champions learn to recognize the Antagonist every time.