Perseverance (An Essay)

 

 

I persevere.

I may feel crushed, yet I keep trying. I always keep trying.

There is no formula for life. We all know this. I might be looking for a formula, so things could be more streamlined, but that isn’t the way that it is. How does someone like myself, sensitive and suffering from mental illness, do something worthwhile in the world? Someone who experiences sadness when he feels like he isn’t good enough, someone who tries to fit in and be kind to others, yet struggles every day.

I keep going.

Maybe, perhaps, perseverance is one of my favorite words in the English language. Maybe all I can think about, is how I have to keep going, keep trying, keep trying things, never stopping. Life is a constant experiment. That seems to be all that I can do, is keep trying things. Even when it feels like it is me against the odds. I keep persisting.

I’ve actually thought a lot about this. What happens when you are right on the end of your rope? What happens when you have been pushed to the limit? Just because you are doing something of note, doesn’t mean you will ever get to experience the joys of that in your lifetime. Kafka, Edgar Allan Poe, Van Gogh: they all thought that their art was useless, and they never had a chance to see their impact. Of course the art wasn’t useless, but they lived in a harsh, harsh world, a place that was unwilling to see their perspective and validate their efforts.

I try to remind myself that it is worth doing, it is worth writing, it is worth thinking, it is worth creating, making music, making YouTube videos: it is all worth it. Certainly, if I could do what Isaac Asimov did, and write five hundred books, I certainly would. I certainly try to, anyway, wouldn’t it be great if we could write so much, and express so much?

So much of my life is centered around words, and the power of words. Language. Language itself. The things that we can express, the things that I do express, even with the indifference of other people: I know that the words I say are meaningful, even if I feel as though they aren’t.

It isn’t an easy thing. What is it that we are striving for anyway? I think about this question all the time, what am I trying to accomplish?

Well, that is a good question. I want to continually write things that are meaningful. I want to write things that fulfill me, and that makes me happy. I want to continue working hard on my books, and sharing them with the world.

I think about J.K. Rowling and Stephen King, both writers who were at the end of their rope, and then succeeded in the most unprecedented and unexpected way. J.K. Rowling had supposedly thrown away her manuscript in the trash, and an editor read it, and wanted to publish it. How does that even happen? And Stephen King never expected the generous advance that he got, the advance that forever changed his life.

And am I someone who feels as though I have to be rewarded with the highest praise and esteem? Do I have to write the Harry Potter series, to feel as though I contributed something to the world? I don’t think so. I have to try not to measure my success by society’s metrics, and I continually do the work, putting in the time, and I do my best. I don’t know what to expect with my art, I don’t know where it is going to lead me, but I do find art to be very valuable, and that is what I hold onto.

Sometimes I don’t even know why I keep writing, except because I know it is what I want to do. I persevere. It isn’t easy, and often times, I doubt myself, I in fact doubt myself quite a bit. I question whether what I’m doing is meaningful or not, and I get crushed. I do get crushed. I get crushed all the time. Living with mental illness has made my life so incredibly difficult, when life is already difficult as it is. The way that no one has understood what I am going through, and I feel as though I am unheard, and everything that I say is isolated to me. It is a strange thing to think about how pain is subjective, so no one can know what you are experiencing, if they are not you. Because no one is you. This is strange to me, but accounts for the way in which people don’t connect with others on these things.

I persevere because I believe that I have something to say. There is so much that I want to be able to communicate, so many discoveries that I have made that I want to share, yet perhaps I am not so pure as I would like to think that I am, I am motivated just as much by irrational processes, as anyone else. In other words, I am not pure.

But I realize that I don’t have to be pure. The thing that we must keep doing, is keep trying. Perseverance goes a long way. Or so I tell myself. Yet, I do believe perseverance is one of the best things that we have. Not giving up on our vision, even though everyone else urges us to. Fighting tooth and nail to be able to keep track of our own contributions, and not feeling so discouraged by the things that are out of our control. I doubt myself all the time, I doubt if the things that I do in life are even worth it. I wonder if I will even write anything meaningful or worthwhile, and so, I just keep trying. What else can you do?

Of course, life is a complicated thing, and we don’t always know what to expect, we don’t always know what is going to happen.

The main thing is, I don’t want to quit on myself. I never want to quit. A lot of things are out of my control, and life can be horrible at times, but the thing that has kept me grounded is my art. It gives my life meaning. And I will hold onto that, because I need to, because this is what is important to me. Sometimes I feel as though we never even know what meaning is, until it is staring us in the face, and even though I am talking a lot about the future, I am very much grateful for the past. I’m grateful that I have had the opportunity to do the things that I have in life, such as writing my books, and even publishing some. I’m not going to give up on life, I’m not going to give up on these things that give my life so much meaning. Maybe other people won’t understand it, and they will crush me, but I will do my best to continue to persevere. I’m not the type to give up, and I think that there is a lot of good in doing the work, and letting that speak for itself.

I often think very much about how life is so ugly. We are lucky to have the things that we do, yet life is still so hard. We don’t always know what we are experiencing, we don’t always know why. And I have been one of those people, who have been perplexed at the way that everything is. I have gotten hurt a lot. I have struggled and suffered a lot, just to be able to survive. I was told that perhaps the way of existing in this way, with struggle, is that the struggle will make you a better person, even if you don’t always think you will make it through. I suppose there is some truth to this.

Life is a difficult thing, and most of the time, I have no idea what I’m doing. I kind of make things up as I go, and shoot from the hip, while also trying to rely on the framework of knowledge that I have built up over the years, to try to understand the world. Nothing is ever what it seems. I may be afraid about what the future holds, I may be sad about things out of my control, but I will focus every day on taking one step, one further step, to progress, and even if that is all that I can say I’ve done for that day, that is completely fine with me, because: small steps to big change.

We do what we can. We contribute what we can. I want to be nicer to myself, and not expect myself to have all the answers.

So hold onto the things that matter the most. Don’t give up on what you believe in. There will be times where you will, but just remember, you are beautiful and have great things to offer. Don’t feel so sad, everything will be okay. Just keep trying. And then, you will understand.

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