I read an “I’m frustrated rant” on Facebook that focused on fairness and life. Unknown to the person ranting, it contained many principals of success; hard work, failures along the way, responsibilities before fun and never giving up. It reminded me of something my grandmother would always say when people said, “That’s not fair, life’s not fair.” She would look at us, smile and wink. Mom, as we called her, saw life differently. She would always say, “The more a person tries, the more fair life becomes. You can go through life complaining about things or you can do something about it.” Her favorite saying, “Be fair to yourself.”
When I didn’t understand my math homework, I became frustrated, threw my pencil down and quit. Mom would say, “Be fair to yourself. When you don’t understand something…ask a question.” I asked and I became very good at math. When I couldn’t make a basket because the basketball hoop was too high, Mom would say, “Be fair to yourself; give yourself a chance to become good.” I became good and in sixth grade I played on the eighth grade team and we won the CYO Championship. When I started playing little league baseball I would always strike out and spend most of the game on the bench. Mom would say, “Be fair to yourself, give yourself a chance to improve.” I became a great coach and understood that fairness was helping kids learn and encourage them to continue trying. Be fair to yourself and give yourself a chance to be all you can be—at math, as an artist, reader, writer, athlete, friend, parent or teacher.
At the end of a recent Youth4Youth Student Leadership Training, a student shared that because of knowing the information we learned, she would have an unfair advantage over others in school and she felt that wasn’t right. I heard my grandma talking as I asked her, “Would it be fair if you returned to school and did not use the skills you learned today to make your school a better place?” In that moment, she saw the strength of fairness.
Be fair to yourself today.
Larry Tracey, author of this article, is an author and founder of Youth4Youth. Y4Y engages youth in developing habits and behaviors for leadership and success in life. Teens practice these skills by promoting their message of respect in their school and community. Have a question or thoughts? Contact Larry through youth4youth.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 623.208.3230.
Call to Action in Life
- What is one thing you’ve been frustrated about recently?
- What would you need to do to be fair to yourself in this situation?
- When will you do it?