There are times when all you want to do is give up.
When the self belief you’ve always maintained just leaves you high and dry, the easiest thing to do is quit. All my life, I’ve known that I’ve been different from those around me. At first, I couldn’t put my finger on what it was. But as I grew older, I realised that my dreams and ideals were the opposite to what everyone elses were. They wanted good jobs and money, but all I ever wanted was to be true to myself by expressing the thoughts and ideas that were constantly bubbling away in my head. I was never interested in becoming successful. The notion of a career always left me cold. For me, it’s only ever been about being creative, telling stories through paint and words. Not because I wanted to make money from it, but because it made me happy. Such a thing has always been frowned upon though. That’s not the right way of doing things, I’ve been told. You can’t make a living through being happy, you need a proper job, you need to become like others. But, maybe foolishly, I’ve always stood by what I deemed to be true. To be true to myself is the only thing that has ever mattered, even if it has left me with nothing. Others my age are settled down with houses and children, yet I maintain that this path was not the one I was born to take. I was born to walk a different road. And though the road would be lonely, if it meant I could tell stories and truths that others didn’t have the magic to tell, then that’s all that mattered.
It’s been a struggle of late though.
Trying desperately to stay true to myself when the words never came, the last two years have worn me down. The novel I’ve been working on slowly came to a halt, and all other forms of expression deserted me. Everytime I tried writing, there was only emptiness. I was emotionally vacant, the dreams and ideas that had bubbled away without end suddenly missing in action. I become a wordless writer, and although I’ve always maintained that my novel, when ready, would be both powerful and vivid, I had nothing to back it up with. There were times when I thought that maybe I should just give up. May be, I should admit defeat and allow my dreams to crumble and die like a broken flower. A proper job would make me feel better. Becoming like everyone else would sort out all my troubles and allow me to disappear into a sea of confident faces. My artistic pursuits felt like a failed adventure that I had finally come to see as something that should be well and truly left behind.
And for a moment, I wanted nothing more than for all of this to be true.
It was around this time when the relationship I was in came to an end. It was my fault. I fucked things up for varying reasons. Some were conscious, other were not. Racked with guilt, I stopped eating and drank to give myself some kind of release in an otherwise joyless situation. Within several weeks, I’d lost two stone. All my love and desires were left crushed, and there was no one to blame but myself. One evening, I was walking the darkened streets when I broke down. The pressure just got too much for me to take anymore. Returning home, I shaved my head with tears rolling down my face then sat on the floor in silence. There was nothing else I could do. I’ve never felt as lonely and as empty as I did that evening. Everything was lost. I couldn’t talk to anyone, because the truth was too messy, so I kept it all in until it got the better of me. That feeling will never be forgotten. One of hopelessness. Of not having anything positive in my life to focus on. The one I loved was beyond my reach, pushed there by my own hands long before. I’d tried to sort things out, but it was all lost.
And it was then when I was at my lowest, that something offered me a way out. Writing.
Almost immediately, it became the one thing that saved me from oblivion. With everything else all fucked up and lost, writing gave me hope. It gave me something to cling to. For so long, I’d struggled to find the words, only to rediscover them when everything else was gone. It’s a shame that it took all of this for me to find my voice again, but somehow it feels as though this was the only way. Despite my best efforts, I’d become increasingly subdued and passive. With the passing of years, the fire in my belly had begun to fade away. It’s as if I needed to fall in order to find out just what I was made of.
And since that fall, I’ve felt compelled to write each and every day.
Every thought and feeling needs to be expressed. Each idea has to be captured. Too many have blown away with the wind, never to be seen again. To think of all those days when I succombed to apathy, when I kept the words hidden. Not anymore. Now they come thick and fast. I feel a fool for having lost sight of myself for so long, for not staying true to what I believed in, for doubting what I had within me.
Even when nobody believes in you, when each and every single person tells you to quit, as long as you know what’s in your heart, that’s all that matters. When there appears to be no way out of the darkness, keep shining the light that you hold inside. There are days when it feels as though you’re getting nowhere, when you feel so hopeless and insignificant against all that you come up against. Days when an office job and a regular life seem so appealing and safe.
But deep down, you know that’s not who you are.
People will tell you to do something else, something real. They’ll laugh when you fall, and they’ll kick you when you’re down. But to stay strong and to stay true to who you are is the most beautiful thing you’ll ever do. It takes guts, and it takes balls. It will test just what you’re made of, and it will show you how doubtful those around you are of stepping outside the lines. That’s what people are afraid of, those who turns their backs on the well trodden path and decide to make their own way. They’ll call you strange. A waste of what you are. But only you know what’s inside your heart. And that’s all that matters.
If you feel passionately for something, never, ever, give it up. And if something makes you happy, pursue it at all costs.
In the words of Charles Bukowski, ‘It’s the only good fight there is’ .