It’s better to try and then fail than to live under the crushing weight of the “what ifs”
Two weeks ago, my friends and I were sitting down for lunch between classes when I received a frantic message from my little sister:
“I’m not sure what I want in life.”
I was a little taken aback. Firstly, because the message came out of nowhere (we hadn’t spoken in about a week) and secondly, because when I was fourteen I wasn’t really spending a lot of time fixated on what I wanted in life. I was mostly trying to get through school, figuring things out as I went along.
So, I responded in the most cliche way possible. I asked her, “What gets you out of bed in the morning?”
“If sleep were a job, I’d be a zillionaire,” she replied and then as an afterthought added, “and writing.”
Now, this really surprised me. She’s spoken about her love for art and photography, but never writing. I was ecstatic to find we had something in common. However, as the conversation wore on, I discovered we shared another thing in common: a lack of motivation. She didn’t know where to start. She didn’t know how to start. I feel the same. I’m always sitting on so many ideas but as soon as I try to get them down on paper, I sort of freeze up, directionless. Maybe, this is something a lot of writers have in common.
It’s easy to forget why you began writing. Life is distracting enough for us to forget. I started writing for the sheer pleasure of bringing the imagination to life, for the release of emotion and for the thrill of knowing that maybe you could change someone’s life with your words.
It’s so easy to forget that burning passion.
I guess the key to pursuing something you love is to never forget why you started. Remember the feeling in your chest when you wrote your first story and don’t let that go. On some days it might be the only thing that will keep you going.
I hope now that my sister has figured out what she wants in life, that she will keep pushing until her dreams materialise. I hope the same for myself, and for you.
No one knows what is best for you, but you. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. People may look down on your decisions because you are young or because you’ve been wrong before, but don’t let their judgement derail your plans.
Even if you feel as if you have no clue where you should be heading or what to do next, don’t be discouraged. You carry the compass within you, perhaps lost or hidden under layers of self-doubt or the criticism of those close to you. Nevermind that. Remember that people will want you to succeed, but rarely more than they do. So, keep pushing. Keep digging. Everything you want and need is somewhere within you.
Nevermind that. Remember that people will want you to succeed, but rarely more than they do. So, keep pushing. Keep digging. Everything you want and need is somewhere within you.
Remember that people will want you to succeed, but rarely will they want you to succeed more than they do. So, keep pushing. Keep digging. Everything you want and need is within reach if only you take that first step towards it.
I’m doing the right thing, aren’t I?
I’m on an escalator heading up
with the rest of them like I should be.
I’ve been a good kid, haven’t I?
Pacing back and forth in the realm
of your expectation, without objection.
I’m going in the right direction, aren’t I?
Even if everything I want
travels opposite to where I’m headed.
Am I doing the right thing?
I started writing because it was cathartic, an escape from a troubling reality. However, the more I see of the world, the more I’m starting to think that we should use our writing to give a voice to those who do not have one. If they want us to, it’s our responsibility to tell their stories.
Ms Ritzer looked like an old tree stump, sturdy and wrinkled, as she stood in front of the overflowing lecture hall. It seemed to me that she, as she stared at us with her stern, joyless face, that she was about to impart some great pearl of wisdom.
We all tend to think psychiatrists know a great deal more about the world and the human condition than we do. That’s why the room rang with silence as every one of my classmates waited eagerly, folded forward in their seats, for her to say something profound.
“Anxiety, you see, is all in the head,” she said finally. I risked a sidelong glance at my friend, Lee, who had thrown herself back in her seat, arms crossed.
I risked a sidelong glance at my friend, Lee, who had thrown herself back in her seat, arms crossed.
Ms Ritzer continued, “You know why people have anxiety? It’s because they’re living too much in the future…”
I didn’t hear her finish that sentence because I had to unwrap my scarf. The room was suddenly getting warmer. Besides, I was finding it hard to hear her. There seemed to be a buzzing in the room.
“A good cure for anxiety is to get a hobby, like cooking. I find it so relaxing -“
My fingers started to tingle as I tapped them impatiently on the wooden desk. Why was the temperature rising? Was I the only one noticing the air getting thicker?
“You can come see me after class if you’d like me to share some recipes.”
Lee tapped my shoulder. She was trying to say something, something important. Her eyes looked like two big marbles staring at me. Only, I couldn’t hear her. I couldn’t even move. So, I stared straight ahead, silent, shaking, as all the blood rushed to my head.
[Anxiety is not something that just goes away. It is not simply stress or nerves. It is a potentially debilitating disorder that can adversely a person’s ability to perform day-to-day tasks and comments like the ones made by the psychiatrist in the story are not helpful. These sorts of statements perpetuate the misconception that certain mental illness can just be gotten over. This is not the case and while a new hobby may help a person cope with a mental illness, it is by no means a cure.]