What is a waterfall? It is a beautiful flow of water over a cliff, and generally, waterfalls are located in the most beautiful parts of the world. But anyone familiar with popular culture may also think of waterfalls as referred by the 1995 single by the R&B trio, TLC.
“Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to your rivers and your lakes that you’re used to, I know that you’re going to have it your way or nothing at all, but I think you’re moving to fast” – (Click for Video)
So in popular culture, waterfalls have come to describe a crazy, tumultuous dream, goal, lifestyle or ambition that is out of reach, and as you move towards it, you can place yourself in more danger, because you can’t handle it. It is too strong. Now, in most instances, we should avoid waterfalls. The obstacles that they bring us are too strong, the pain they cause can be too great. But I always wondered how can you truly tell if you’re going down a river that leads to a waterfall; if the decisions that you make are good or bad? You just can’t.
So you’re GOING to go down waterfalls in life, that is inevitable, why not chase one? Yes, I’m saying we should chase waterfalls. And will chasing waterfalls produce a positive result. Maybe. Maybe Not. But the process of chasing what you don’t know may have a positive result for you. This idea of chasing waterfalls really vibes with my methodology towards life, and I promise that I am not exactly a risky type of person, but there’s a reason to this madness in my mind.
People talk a lot about career advancement with millennials. We are young, and still have plenty of time to change, alter, and improve the direction in which we want to go. If we’re unhappy, they tell us to change it. And we love to hear from people who have found a job that they love, or have turned their passion into a career and become the coveted entrepreneur. I would argue that the latter is mostly supported, even if people don’t like or understand the idea, most people like the idea of starting something new and innovative. But for the former, if you’re unhappy, change it, my experience has not quite been that way in my career.
Academically and professionally, I have had some really amazing experiences. They haven’t always felt the best at the time being, but through all my experiences I have always learned a great deal for the next step in life. But even more so, I have a certain standard for what environment I want to work and thrive in. Recently, I was in a situation where I was unhappy, rarely did I feel supported in my frustrations from other co-workers who were in the exact same situation. We all were upset, but rarely was anyone willing to do anything about the situation. And as the only millennial (unfortunately) in the whole department, my constant approach to identify and change the situation was seen as a sign of immaturity. Often times, people would “understand” my frustrations, but rarely were any of my suggestions good ideas or pursuing the path for change seen as necessary.
“Oh, it is not that bad”, “There are worse work situations out there” (which was true), “You’re young, you have to be patient”
That’s right, just wait your turn. The idea that I should wait. That things will change eventually. Wrong. Wrong. And more wrong. Unless, I am waiting for my Heavenly Father to lead the way, the idea of waiting on someone else or something to get better, isn’t for me. But I will say that every step I took to change my situation, or pursue a different recourse, I often felt like I was going down a river toward a waterfall. There were difficult days , because trying to change things while being very upset is a bad combination. There were uneasy times, and job safety is always in the back of your head when you’re challenging the status quo. But change wasn’t coming to that position, that department, so I started fighting differently. I started pursuing new positions that everyone told me I wouldn’t get (people love to tell you what you can’t do). But I knew this was the right fight.
I was able to get a new job, and not just any new job, but a better job, a job that many were surprised that I got, because it was a significant promotion for a person who had only worked with the organization for a year. But I wasn’t surprised, not because I’m amazing, but sometimes you have to step out, especially professionally, when everyone is telling you no.
Why do I tell this story? Because when I was feeling like I was on a fast track to a waterfall (because I was so close to blowing that place up). It was very lonely. I had family and friends who were trying to be supportive, but they were not here and couldn’t really know the exact situation. At times, the people who were in it, didn’t have the same need or desire to fight, but I did. I only felt supported when the fighting was over, and sometimes it feels that way, but heading towards what could’ve been waterfall was definitely worth it. You can’t focus on the end, you have to be able to muddle through the water. My river didn’t lead to a waterfall but it could’ve, but it was worth the ride. So you have to fight for what you believe (even if you’re wrong at times) is my philosophy.
Here’s two examples in popular culture,were taking a bet, one with public support and the other with a public lashing: At the Oscars, last night, Patricia Arquette lit it up, and social media by simply telling women, that we have fought for equal rights for others, but the time is now, for us to fight for equal pay for women. Those words couldn’t have been said on a better stage, with the best part followed by Meryl Streep overly animated concurrence. Positive Words. Great Stage. Almost Full Acceptance. (I’m sure there is someone out there disagreeing somewhere)
Conversely, look at the past week for former Mayor Giuliani is having. At a fundraiser for the presidential hopeful Gov. Scott Walker, Giuliani took the spotlight off of Walker, and put the bullseye over his entire body. Mayor Giuliani bluntly said that President Obama does not love America. Yep, that’s right. Just that plainly. In his Wall Street Journal op-ed that followed this past Sunday, he said he wasn’t questioning the President’s heart or mind, but that the President actually has criticized this country more than any other President in history. Now a lot of people didn’t like what he had to say, including a lot of the other Republican presidential hopefuls, and they tried to distance themselves as fast as lightning. Did I mention Giuliani wasn’t invited, and he sure as heck wasn’t supposed to speak.
Negative Words. Wrong Stage. Much less acceptance of his words. (Because you know Rush Limbaugh praised every single word).
My question should either of their voices be stopped. In my mind, they both could be going down a path to a waterfall. Patricia Arquette took a stand, that could’ve been rejected, and so did Rudy Giuliani. Just because Patricia had a 90% chance of acceptance, and Giuliani had a 30% chance, do we only take the safe bets?
I challenge us all, especially millennials, to not always taking the safe bets, chase the waterfall. The waterfall isn’t always a new thing, business, or something uber aggressive. It can just be a new project, requesting more responsibility, or asking for a mentor who is going to challenge you and not just puff up your ego. So go chase a waterfall, just a little bit, because standing in the lake will get you nowhere.