Do Yourself a Favour and Quit While You're Ahead
Growing up in a middle-class family with two working parents, I have always known a temporary comfort. Comfort because I always appreciated how great we had it and temporary because I knew it always came with a price. So it's completely safe to say that ya girl grew up knowing the value of a dollar well earned.
And so, taking this idea into account, I became a woman obsessed with constant re-evaluation and re-appraisal.
Am I making enough money?
Am I doing well enough in school?
Am I being a good friend?
Am I making myself proud?
Am I good enough?
Side-stepping the arguable lack of depth and perspective in the aforementioned questions, I grew up priding on myself for the constant betterment of my personhood. Yeah sure, fitness bloggers get abs and business tycoons make money, but I was making PROGRESS! And isn't that what everything in life funnels down to? People tell you to enjoy the journey and whatever nonsensical image or phrasing that fits the particular zeitgeist? I was almost really happy with the journey too. I love trips. Travelling is great! But sometimes life takes you on a trip in a rundown RV à la Breaking Bad season one with you sitting in-between the two screaming toddlers named Trial and Tribulation and you guys run out of gas in the middle of the desert and these little bastards force you to walk the 10 kilometres or whatever to the next rest stop to get help... Fine, that metaphor got out of hand. But you know what else gets out of hand? LIFE!
Coming back from that little trip of a sentence, I hope you're getting that life gets completely fucked up sometimes and that the people who make a point of telling you "its all part of the journey" are full of bull-honkey. A secret other people try to hide and sugarcoat and gloss over is that life stays fucked up, forever, ALWAYS. In fact, the last time someone tried to tell me that things would all be okay and that I needed to persevere through some complete bullshit, I almost cried out of frustration. I actually did cry, but that was because I was also 70 hours into a 72 hour all-nighter. It's not a secret that life isn't fair so why are we making it such a big deal to move forward and onwards and upwards to the next problem down the road?
Before you think this is some Nietzsche-esque rant taken from my first-year philosophy class and promptly click away from the complete eye-roll-ish quality that is early twenty-something nihilism, I implore you to glaze your eyes left to right for at least the next sentence:
Life sucks but sometimes we should be allowed to feel how much it sucks.
This obsessive need to re-evaluate immediately after failure and to criticize ourselves over our wrongdoings needs to stop. I'm not encouraging to give up trying completely! Rather, I would like to advocate for enduring and pausing at our failures.
After learning that I had the ability to rework around my failures and improve little things in what I had perceived to be my failures, I fell into this awful pattern of perfectionism. The burden of the presence of my first, second, tenth drafts and the pressing need to achieve anything and everything at any cost ultimately drove me to one of my first (and probably not last) nervous breakdowns. Whenever I wanted to move on and found that I couldn't because it was either too demanding or too unrealistic, I placed the blame on myself.
Why am I not making enough money?
Why am I doing this in school?
Why am I alone?
Why am I not proud of myself?
Why am I not good enough?
And these little evaluations that previously gave me so much pleasure through their progressions to what I perceived as success eventually almost caused my downfall. I wanted so badly to keep progressing and moving onwards, forwards, upwards! But I had hit a limit that most motivational gurus would have you believe exist alongside dragons and George R.R. Martin's completion of ASOIAF in mythology. After all, a limit always exists when you choose to put value into situations that are uncontrollable and factors that are expendable. It's not that hard to believe in, it's a lot more credible than the release of A Dream of Spring.
Failure is a required component to success.
The pitfalls that we face and the shit that makes us want to sob uncontrollably in bed at 4am are the demons we need to keep fighting to level the heck up in life! But never think that just because something digs into your skin and drags you under the covers that you've lost the game. We aspire for more than mediocrity and we plan to do our best for our best. But its important to understand that no matter how spontaneous a success seems to be, we've all hit the ground face-first at some point.
So drop that "life is a journey, enjoy the ride" bullshit. You don't need it! Next time you see a stop sign in the middle of the desert and you're feeling heat stroke, for god's sake please take a damn breather. Nobody wants to see you at the next pit stop before your time. It's a beautiful day to be hanging by the inch of your life. Don't fuck it up. Or do, do whatever as long as you its on you.
*Revision, I misspelled Nietzche. Sorry philosophy fan bois, he wasn't really that great anyway.