Greater expectations A cynic’s view on setting your sights higher

By: Nick Bergeman ~Staff Columnist~

I’ve rolled my eyes at the Adidas “Impossible is Nothing” slogan for as long as I can remember. When I hear someone talking about being able to do the impossible, I’ve always thought the logical part of my brain became annoyed at this ridiculous perspective.

After all, there are things that can be done, and there are things that can’t. I will never run a mile in a minute. No one can or will contest that fact, especially if you’ve seen me run. Not even the most starry-eyed dreamers reasonably believe that something truly impossible can happen. No, what this discussion is really about is sentiment, not logic.

“Impossible is Nothing” didn’t upset me because of its logic. It upset me because I’m cynical. If something seems highly improbable, I instinctively decide that it is impossible and not worth attempting.

1As a convenient example, I am approaching graduation. I hate to spoil the secret for you underclassmen, but that means that I have to think about what comes after I receive my degrees. Most of the time, graduates find a job or go into further education. I would be interested in either, but that’s a little easier said than done with my ambitions.

I want to make movies, which is not exactly the easiest racket to get into. When this year began, I knew I needed to get on my horse and get moving on figuring out what I would do at the end of the year.

Since I can remember, I never thought I could achieve great things, but I remember thinking how wide the spectrum of ‘great things’ falls for different people. College never seemed out of my reach, but Harvard always did. Some children never even feel like college is possible, but it always seemed like a certainty to me.

Finding a job in Los Angeles or applying to film school may have seemed like a fruitless and impossibility for most of college, and my life, but for some reason it just seemed to be within my grasp as I started this year.

Even still, while I would apply to some of the finest film schools for Masters programs, I refused to apply to the University of Southern California, which for those of you who don’t know is basically the Harvard of film schools. I decided that I could never get in, so it wasn’t even worth applying.

I have lived this way my entire life. I’ll try to do what is in reach, but anything that seems out of reach isn’t even worth working towards. I have never tried to become exceptional to save myself from embarrassment if I failed.

Living that way has only led me further from being exceptional because I never pushed myself to exceed any sort of expectation.

My life isn’t any better for avoiding what seems impossible, whether it be an application or anything else. I wonder how my life could be different and better if I accepted that “Impossible is Nothing.”

I don’t think I knew I was a cynic until recently when I was watching an episode of “The West Wing.” The episode is called “The Crackpots and These Women,” and contains a soliloquy from President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) about a UFO picked up on radar earlier that day.

1
Nick Bergeman is a staff columnist at the Newswire. He is a senior Digital Innovation Film & Television and English double major from Detroit.

I would like to close my article with this moment that cut me to my cynical core and asked me what I think about impossibility.

“It was not a spaceship from another planet, just another time. A long since abandoned Soviet satellite, one of its booster rockets didn’t fire and it couldn’t escape the earth’s orbit–a sad reminder of a time when two powerful nations challenged each other and then boldly raced into outer space. [pause] What will be the next thing that challenges us? That makes us work harder and go farther?

“You know, when smallpox was eradicated, it was considered the single greatest humanitarian achievement of this century.

Surely, we can do it again. As we did in the time when our eyes looked towards the heavens, and with outstretched fingers, we touched the face of God.”

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