This post is from the Just Write writing prompt series at rebeccatdickson.com. This week’s prompt: “That’s The Price Of Admission.”
When we were young the cost of admission was simply the willingness to ignite the spark. Get out there with some energy and play. We had everything in front of us and the only limits prevailing each day were when Mom would call us in for dinner.
Years later there were tests, formulas, and first dates, and it seemed the price of admission to play the game had become study. Time to prep for Friday’s quiz, time to rehearse how to talk to that cute girl and not sound like an idiot, and time to figure out how to pay for that new car. Every day was exciting and scary as we watched grown up ideals fall into our lap, and we weren’t yet totally sure what to make of them.
As we got ready to walk the stage and head to college, we finished the last of our SATs to “prove ourselves worthy” of some grand destiny we were convinced was just around the corner. We were adults, but we were still kids playing in a grown up’s world. As we fell into the grind of semester classes and midterms, we learned that the new price of admission was learning to meter perseverance with fun. Could we party until 2am and still cram for that test the next morning? Take a No Doz, cowboy up, and get an Aaaaaaa…. C+? Next time will be different.
As college came to a close and it was time to start seriously thinking about what came next, we knew that simply persevering wouldn’t be enough. Everyone said we’d have to be proactive. Graduate, refine the resume, work that cover letter, and make something of yourself. Get a good job and keep your head down, they’d say, and you’ll be fine. The new price of admission seemed to be obedience. You spent four years of college thinking about how you felt about things, but now they’re going to tell you what to think. We don’t want box pokers; we just need you to follow the guidelines and try not to take too many coffee breaks. Color inside the lines, please.
Selling out was easy when I thought what I’d put up for sale was disposable. Nod and say “yes, sir” and avoid getting thrown under the bus at next week’s staff meeting. That’s what they want, right? I wasn’t ready to accept it was never about them. Didn’t have the courage to ask myself what I wanted.
I sold what I thought was disposable, and had become disposable. A couple major setbacks later, as I felt like I was slipping down the drain, the cost of obedience seemed heavier than anything I’d lifted before. What was the new price of admission? I wasn’t sure. Didn’t even feel like I was standing in line anymore.
The answer was resolve, but I didn’t see it until it’d already saved me. I was way off shore but treading water, and suddenly the price of admission back to shore was clear. I was a line that had become a circle, and the tip of my pencil had finally swung back around so that the end point had reached where I’d started. Everything else was relevant but was still a lie. The price of admission had not changed since childhood. The spark was always the goal, the willingness to feed it the cost. That’s all that ever really stands between a person and their dreams, and the hurdles we create for ourselves are simply the ways in which we allow things to extinguish it.
That’s the real price of admission.