Post by NCW Member Jennifer Sundstedt
Ever since reading the story of South Korea’s Cha Sa-soon, I’ve been thinking about the value of perseverance. Last November, Cha finally achieved the minimum score of 60/100 needed to pass her written driver’s license exam. It was her 950th attempt.
Nearly every weekday since April of 2005, the 68-year-old woman rode the bus to the licensing agency, paid the application fee…and failed the test. (This does beg the question of whether Cha should drive at all, but I’ll leave that to her local authorities.)
I can’t help but wonder what roadblocks, if I may, Cha encountered on the way. Unsupportive friends and relatives? Snide, eye-rolling license employees? Illness, inclement weather, general I’m-so-sick-of-this-I-could-just-spit malaise? Certainly the license fees totaling the equivalent of $4,200 couldn’t have been easy for a woman who makes her living selling vegetables. But she kept at it. "I felt so ashamed of myself for failing so many times but I simply could not give it up," Cha told the Yonhap News Agency.
Cha’s perseverance blows my mind and makes me feel a tad bit ashamed. I’m so fortunate to have few significant roadblocks in my life. Nevertheless, I can think of nothing—other than telling my boys I love them, and, hopefully, basic hygiene practices—that I’ve done on a near-daily basis for four years and counting. Not even writing. If I had, my writing career might look different these days. Maybe I’d have an agent. Or even a book deal.
Albert Einstein said, “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” I suspect he was being modest, but I like the message that determination pays off. So, at the dawn of this new decade, I am recommitting myself to perseverance, especially in regard to my writing.
It often seems necessary or appropriate to make resolutions based on guilt or obligation, but now feels like the time to find true inspiration in the genuine, worthy goal of crossing one finish line, celebrating madly, and focusing on the next. After all, anything is possible. Just look at Cha Sa-soon.
(And on the days when I’m disgruntled and frustrated and have received my fair share of rejection, I hope I can laugh at how the wonderfully de-motivational www.despair.com defines perseverance: The courage to ignore the obvious wisdom of turning back.)
Jenny Sundstedt is a Colorado author, currently seeking representation for her first mystery novel.