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Awareness Coming-of-Age

A Conversation Between Greatness, Compromise, and Sacrifice

A conversation between Greatness, Sacrifice, Compromise—circa 2012—and someone who’s stupid enough to pretend these things aren’t interrelated. We’ll call that person,”G.”


G: Alright. So check this out. I have all these plans I wish to accomplish and a lifetime to accomplish them. I know you’re in my future and I just have to put in enough work to find you. So for the next few years of my life, I’ll sacrifice and compromise whatever I have to in order to make sure I reach you.

Greatness: Son, let me start by saying it’s admirable you wish to find me. Many people search for me and quit before they ever reach me. Or they simply change what it is they believe I am, which often times is something much more minuscule than what I originally intended to be. I encourage everyone to shoot as high as they like, but has anyone ever bothered to tell you what it’d cost for you to reach me?

G: Yeah. Compromise and Sacrifice. Everybody knows that. In the pursuit of you, a person must be willing to become very familiar with the two, because there is no way to reach you without paying the cost.

Greatness: Agreed, but have you ever taken stock to think about what it would actually cost to reach me? Meaning, has anybody ever explained to you what exactly you’d have to compromise and sacrifice?

G: Umm….No?

Sacrifice: Kid, in order for you to reach Greatness, I’m going to become your best friend. And your worst nightmare. I show up at the most inconvenient times in your life and all I do is take. The worst part is, the things I’m taking from you, you will most likely never get back.

G: Wait…what do you mean?

Sacrifice: You know that guy…what’s his name…Compromise? Yeah, that guy. He’s willing to work with you. You know, give you some breathing room and allow you to pick and choose what it is you’re giving up. Me? There’s no wiggle room here. You give. I take. That’s all there is to it.

G: Well…I understand I’m going to become acquainted with you but its all part of the journey. Right?

Greatness: Yes and no. On your way to reaching me, you have to understand there will be certain things you have to give up in my name.

G: Like what?

Sacrifice: For starters, you can’t have it both ways. To reach Greatness requires a singular focus. Just know you’ll be paying me mucho dinero, with “time” being your main currency. I don’t take cash or credit. You pay in time and you pay in blood, sweat, and tears.

G: You’re talking in circles man….

Sacrifice: You know how you wanted to pay tuition AND you wanted to go on vacation with your friends? Yeah. Scratch that vacation. Remember how you tried to juggle school, work, and a relationship? Yeah…that’s not going to work either. Oh yeah, your friends are probably going to treat you differently the closer you get to Greatness, so you might have to drop them too.

G: Huh? Why the hell would I have to do that? That’s sounds like too much.

Sacrifice: Too much? Kid, that’s what you’re paying just to sign up for the trip. I haven’t even decided what I’m going to take once you start on this path and you decide you’re too stubborn or too stupid to turn around and go home.

Greatness: As I tried to explain to you before, people start out making me a lofty endeavor and find the residual is much too high. They usually end up settling for a less grandiose version of me. Remember that kid you went to high school with? Me and him seemed destined to meet. Then he had that kid with the girl he was in love with.

Sacrifice: Yeah…that was my fault. I told him his payment to me was getting rid of her. He didn’t want to pay. You see where he’s at now…

Compromise: Don’t let these guys scare you. Everything you do with life can be balanced. Sure it might require you to be a little more stressed than usual, but there are plenty of situations where I’ll be there.

Sacrifice: I hate this guy.

Compromise: *smirks* Anyway, while you’re on the path to Greatness, you will have to give up certain things. That’s true. Just realize most of the things you have to give up, also have a chance to be given back. Everything isn’t always black and white. Life also has shades of gray.

G: Yeah, but Sacrifice was talking as if I had to give up my first born in order to pursue Greatness.

Sacrifice: Maybe not your first born, but there are people you start out with who will not make it with you on the journey. It’ll come down between what YOU really want and what THEY really want. And picking what YOU want will make it so they can no longer co-exist with your current trajectory.

G:

Greatness: I’m afraid he’s right son. When Snoop said he paid the cost to be the boss, that wasn’t just a cute rap quote to sell records. People have done many things to find me. Some people never regret the decisions they made. Some people regret ALL the decisions they made.

Compromise: Even when dealing with me, you have to understand I require payment as well. Maybe not your first born, but there are parts of yourself and your personality you will have to give up. Truthfully, you can consider me the little brother to Sacrifice. There are things that I will ask of you, you will not be willing to give up. And honestly, you can’t follow my lead every time the opportunity comes up. Chasing Greatness will undoubtedly change you and unfortunately, those changes aren’t always for the better.

G: So why hasn’t anybody ever sat me down to explain this to me before? I mean, everybody knows I want to be great and I’m doing everything I possibly can to achieve that. Everybody’s just been patting me on the back but they haven’t explained the veracity of what I’m undertaking. Why?

Greatness: Because most people who set out to meet me never finish their journey…

Sacrifice: …or they think they can cheat the system, but I’m the Uncle Sam of this shit. And Uncle Sam ALWAYS gets his money…

Compromise: …and truthfully, some people never have anybody to tell them so they have to learn for themselves. Much like you had to and are continuing to do right now.

G: So how do I know whether I should keep pushing or I should just chalk up my losses and go home?

Greatness: Because in order to be truly great, you know that you will have to take some wins and some losses. You figure out what you can deal with and when it goes too far, that’s where you draw the line.

G: You said a whole lot of nothing just now.

Greatness: Tough break bro. Remember, just because it doesn’t cost you money doesn’t mean it didn’t cost you something. The reason nobody knows how much it costs to reach me is because the cost differs for each person. It’s up to you to find the cost you can live with. Should a day arrive when you feel it is too expensive…when you’ve paid more than your share of blood/sweat/tears or you’ve seen too many relationships and friendships waste away…or the day you find yourself meeting me and you realize you have nobody to share it with…

…Let’s just say the journey is half the battle and meeting me is not nearly as sweet if you have to do it on your own.

By Garfield Hylton

Garfield Hylton, J.D., is a dark-humored, self-deprecating misanthropist whose only hope of redemption is turning blank Google Word documents into piles of well-executed thoughts. He likes to add the suffix "J.D." on everything he writes because he understands that everything sounds better when coming from a doctor. You can listen to his podcast here: @NWAPcast.