March Madness

As much of the sports world revolves around “March Madness”, or the collegiate NCAA tournament for men’s and women’s basketball, I consider the far more pervasive march madness that many of us face daily. We try to get through the grind of the winter, only to look for brighter horizons in the upcoming months of spring and summer. We hope that with sunnier weather comes sunnier attitudes and a fresh, new approach can come from some of the harsher interactions we’ve shared.

However, what happens when the spring of our lives continues on like a lion rather than a lamb? What happens if in the tournament of our lives, we are not exactly a 1 or 2 seed, but rather a 16-seed? Everyone anticipates our failure and expresses at least a covert expectation that we may not prevail in our goals. This can be one of the truly best lessons learned from the sports arena, and applied to our lives. It becomes the magic and enthralling nature of this tournament to watch, view, and become emotionally invested in upsets.

By upset, I mean those teams which are anticipated to fail, but do not. They refuse. They gather all of the courage and resiliency that they can muster, and despite all odds stacked against them, they unite together as one. Similar analogies can be seen in archetypes throughout human history, ranging from myths and legends, biblical verse, and stories prevailing the value of David vs. Goliath, and an ultimate rooting for the underdog.

Perhaps it has been my work with those struggling with addiction who have shown me the truly awesome nature of resiliency. They are a population who suffer from a stigma that they are the dregs of society, are worthless, lying, cheating individuals who threaten the safety and happiness of others. All due to a choice to use substances, categorically choosing them above all other aspects of life including family, friends, work, and love. And despite the fallacies involved of ‘choosing’ this type of life, many do indeed suffer great hardships including homelessness and retribution from loved ones. But it is those who persist that continue to amaze and inspire me. Those who acknowledge that they must lift themselves up from what so often is considered to be “hitting bottom”, and rise up from the ashes to success. They are able to decide not to let this stigma deter them, and it is a lesson I feel we may all benefit from.

No matter who, what, when, where or why someone is telling you that you deserve misery, you are not obliged to listen. You deserve better, and you are able to achieve more. It will require hard work, perhaps some sacrifice, and putting everything you have into making your lives a success. And, what’s more, you can do it.

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