Sometimes you try and you try, but all you get for your troubles is falling face-first into the dirt. I remember the first time I had felt hopeless. I was six years into my hairdressing career when I realised I didn’t want to have six-day workweeks anymore.
But change didn’t come easy. I had no other skills, and back then, job-search portals were few and far in between, seeing as to how the first iPhone hadn’t even launched yet.
Then I felt it again when I took another two years to study accounting, thinking it would give me a leg up in the corporate world. I graduated from college at the age of 28 or so, and all I had to show for it was the slew of rejections that came along with each job application.
At this rate, I even expect this feeling to resurface every few years or so, because we never truly figure shit out, do we?
The thing is, I can never get used to the feeling of staring down an obstacle, especially now that I’ve come face to face with it once more.
Hello darkness my old friend
The human condition involves going through the highs and the lows of life. None of us are special, and we’re all subject to the challenges life sees fit to throw at us.
And as much I enjoy writing inspirational articles, I do admit that I tend to falter once in a while. I talk big game about overcoming your flaws and grinding through the grimy process, but there are moments when I can’t even bring myself to water the plants or do the laundry.
This is one such moment. After sticking to a solid diet, a regular exercise schedule, and a rather ‘adult’ schedule of getting stuff done, I now find myself standing before my old friends: doubt, pessimism, fear, and doom.
That’s it. They just decided to show up. It’s not like I get a WhatsApp message notifying me that they’d be around for the weekend. I just end up forgoing my schedule that I’ve worked years to build, and end up looking for something to take me out of my own head, mainly alcohol.
Then I spiral out of control for a few weeks and there’s nothing I can do about it. So much for ‘you still have the power to choose how you want to act, despite how you feel’, a motto of mine that’s much easier said than done.
It’s not 1+1=2
I wish life was as simple as video games. In games, there is no doubt what you should do. Visit this town, get some quests. Kill the bad guy, get your reward.
In real life, however, just because you take all the right steps doesn’t mean you get the rewards. You could very well play life by the book and still come out of it with nothing but a participation trophy.
Sometimes I go through an emotionally-rough spell and that’s when I curse the gods. “Haven’t I done enough?” I would say. “Don’t I deserve to feel emotionally normal?”
And my journal would attest to my efforts. It would be months of not drinking any alcohol, getting enough rest, staying on top of work, yet at the end of said timeline, I would sometimes feel much worse than before I began.
I wish I could say that my novel’s upcoming release date has got me stoked, but I don’t feel any different. I’m in a happy relationship, my loved ones are doing well, and I am a rather healthy individual. Yet something still feels off.
Watching sunsets, meditating, and doing yoga has done little for my state of happiness as well. Where, then, do I have the power to control my feelings? Just how can I take the action I need to stop feeling this way?
Sometimes you gotta learn to live with it
Maybe I’m going about this the wrong way. Maybe it’s not finding a way to remove the pain. Maybe it’s about learning to exist alongside the challenges that come my way. Maybe all my pain comes from the futility of trying to find a solution to my pain, when I should actually find out how to best live with it.
In fact, wasn’t it Bukowski who said “What matters most is how well you walk through the fire”? Look back far enough and you’ll find similar quotes, like the one Buddha dropped: “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.”
So does that give me an excuse to write this sorry excuse for a blog post this week? Does that grant me the permission to sleep in, like I’ve been doing these past few days? Is that a justifiable reason for pushing all my chores aside and not taking care of myself?
I really don’t know, to be honest. But at least I’m adhering to my once-a-week blogging schedule, and I guess that counts as a win.
And maybe I am feeling a little alone right now, but you know what? Maybe someone in the future will be able to relate, and in that sense, maybe my pain won’t seem like such a bad thing after all.