MILLS' MUSINGS: The day after. What now?

At the time of writing this I have no idea who the Governor of my home state will be for the next four years. As you read this the day it’s published or afterwards, you do.

There is a chance a lot of us are unhappy with the way things turned out. I can remember back when I was younger, I would get upset when things wouldn’t turn out the way I wanted. I still struggle with it sometimes today.

People who want to protect my feelings often say it’s because I am a perfectionist. I think that’s just a gentle way of saying “you’re a control freak and need to unwind a bit, man.” But I’m not a mindreader, so maybe they really are just being genuine.

My mother noticed I was a “perfectionist” when I was young. I remember an instance when I was in second grade. We were living in Montana at the time and it was still relatively early in the school year. For whatever reason, some of my classmates and I decided to give ourselves fake names for the day.

The problem? We never told our teachers or anybody outside of our friend group that we were doing it. I don’t think foresight is a strong suit for many second graders.

I was all in on the fake name game. I even wrote my fake name on that day’s spelling test. “Tommy” I scribbled in chicken scratch at the top of my test. I think I chose that name because it was the name of my favorite Power Ranger. He wore green and could summon a gigantic mechanical dinosaur with a flute, I wanted to be Tommy.

Later that day, my teacher passed the graded spelling tests back out to the rest of the class. Everyone got their test back, except for “Tommy.” I remember sitting there confused at first. I looked around and all of the other “fake namers” had their test back. My teacher then called me up to her desk, as the rest of my class were reviewing their scores.

I remember my teacher having a rule and I remember her being a stickler for said rules. I don’t even remember her name, but I will never forget that you don’t turn in an assignment in her class without your name on it. My test had a name on it, it just wasn’t my name, and as a result, I had to sit out recess the next day.

You see, that lack of foresight I mentioned earlier prevented me from understanding that everything was going to be okay. I was in trouble, at school and I never get in trouble.

What would happen? Would I get grounded at home? Would this lead me to a life of rule breaking, and aliases that would see me never being able to go outside to play ever again? Would I hold onto this for the next 20 years, and share it with a bunch of strangers to try and prove a point?

I’m sure a variation of some of those questions raced around my 8-year-old brain at the time.

Big deal? It’s just recess, who cares?

I cared, and when I came home that evening, my mom knew something was off. I explained the story to her, probably better than I just did to you, and although she understood why my teacher was forcing me to learn this lesson by sitting out of recess, she could also see that her child was under distress, as ridiculous as it was.

She gave me some advice that day that I still hold onto now. “Don’t let 20 minutes of a day, ruin your entire day.”

Now granted, you can’t use that exact advice for every bad thing that happens in your life, but it’s the principle behind it that I try to keep in mind.

When Vice President Pence visited the Tri-Counties on Friday, we had a plan in place here at the paper. However, things happened and we had to adapt. We could have wallowed and gave up when things didn’t go exactly how we envisioned, but instead we made the best of the situation and were still able to get amazing coverage of the Vice President’s visit.

We didn’t let the inconveniences we encountered stop us from making the best of that day. We didn’t become overwhelmed by the fear of what would happen because it didn’t go exactly how we wanted, we focused on what we could control.

I suspect that some of the candidates that I voted for will win and some will lose. I can’t control that. What I can control is how much I let it affect my life moving forward. Sure, politicians can put laws and regulations into place that do affect my life, but I can’t let that possibility consume me. I have to trust that our political system and its checks and balances will keep any one person or group of people from completely ruining things.

And if I do begin to worry, I can always do things within my control: raise awareness about the issues, find other like-minded individuals who agree with me, and vote that person out in the next election.

I can also control how I treat others following the election. I can be boastful and braggadocios because my candidate won, or spiteful and hateful because they lost. But why would I, what would that change? Nothing. Remember that Matt Bevin isn’t sitting at the desk next to you at work and Andy Beshear isn’t bagging your groceries at the grocery store. Your neighbors are, the people you see and interact with everyday. Those are the people that can affect your life everyday, and you can affect theirs.

Try to affect others for the better, especially for the next year or so, as we start preparing ourselves for yet again another election.

Jarrod Mills is a staff writer for the Times-Tribune. He can be contacted at jmills@thetimestribune.com.

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