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SANDRA DEMPSEY POST

SANDRA DEMPSEY POST

Tryouts haven’t changed much through the years. They’re still filled with anticipation, excitement and uneasy feelings of “maybe I’m not good enough.” Typically there are more individuals competing than will make the team, land a role in the play, get hired for a coveted job or study at that ivy covered building.

The stressful process of demonstrating talent for the coach, director, or boss typically happens in an interview or audition but basically it’s a heartfelt, hopeful plea for a chance to prove skills and talents. Growing up in the ’50s and ’60s or before, females had few opportunities to play organized sports. Some universities didn’t always want females for certain majors or fields of study. Even churches and various religious denominations said yes only to males for leadership roles with some continuing that tradition today.

Society now offers myriad opportunities in sports, academics, recreation, hobbies, career opportunities and life styles, but still it often comes down to making those tryouts. When the team or cast or perspective employees are announced, those not chosen often see themselves as less than or even failures. And it doesn’t always occur to the disappointed individual, be it child, adult or senior, that sometimes what’s essential to learn, maybe even more than being the best, are the choices of quality alternatives. Not second best options or just settling for something or anything, but viable, confidence building opportunities originating from varied directions.

High school wasn’t my favorite time, and I learned much later that I wasn’t alone in my sentiments. When my children were growing up, I understood even more that nearly every teen struggles with some challenges or feelings of low self-esteem. Later adolescent angst may return during parenting’s introductory years. Sometimes just about the time things are going well, there’s a sudden collision in the opposite direction. The same can be said of aging. “One thing after another” says the person whose health is diminishing or perhaps two or three loved ones die in a short period of time and families struggle to rediscover living without them. Life is filled with finding different paths and outlets for getting through sadness and challenges.

Some of my grandchildren are old enough to try out for different activities. Collectively that’s caused a range of emotions, not all of them positive. Telling them that 10 years from now it won’t matter isn’t consoling. But maybe suggesting another avenue of participation might help them realize success and satisfaction are often wrapped differently than expected. The summer before my high school junior year, I began working at a neighborhood drug store. I loved the job, not because it was glamorous or high-paying, but it introduced me to new people and opportunities. I would love to tell the store’s owner and his seasoned employee who patiently taught me the intricacies of a cash register what a positive influence they had on a not-so-confident teenager, but they are both deceased. As with much in life, we may never be able to repay someone or express our appreciation, but we can pass on to others the generosity and goodness we experienced.

Trying out for positions or opportunities doesn’t always result in dreams come true. Sometimes it causes us to look in other directions for even more satisfying outcomes.

Sandra Dempsey Post



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