This article was originally published for The Odyssey on August 21, 2017.
I know you’re struggling. I know you’ve been struggling for a long time. It’s getting bad, isn’t it? It feels like you’re drowning all the time, like your feet are trying desperately to reach the bottom, but it’s like someone moved it lower, right? Your legs and arms are tired from not only holding yourself up but other people, too. You’re fading, your breath is running out, and you feel as if this is it.
Every time you feel your head bob under the wave, under the tide or under the current, you always find some way to make it back to the top. Whether it be a helping hand or some strength you never knew you had, there is hope.
I know you don’t want to hear this, but it has to be said. You need to keep going. You need to keep fighting. You need to keep your head up. You cannot give up; there is no giving up. Don’t let yourself drown. Don’t let yourself down.
I know it’s tiring. I know you’re done with the world. I know you’re done with the people around you, even the ones who are helping, even the ones who you’re helping. I know you don’t want to get out of bed. I know you have little interest in doing the things that once made you happy. I know this and so much more. Trust me, I’ve been there.
I, too, feel as if there is nothing to hope for tomorrow. Hell, I lost my faith at the beginning of the summer and it’s only just starting to make a cameo back into my life. It’s going to take a while to re-teach myself to keep faith in things that you can’t see or hear. It’s going to take a while for me to heal. It’s going to take a while for me to feel comfortable again.
When life stops throwing you curve balls and starts throwing you things much worse than baseball analogies, you need to keep your head up. When the raining and pouring stops and you’re faced with a full-blown shit-storm, keep your eyes on the horizon. When your heart is so broken you can’t process anything short of positivity, force yourself to move forward.
You can’t do this alone, but you can do it. You’re not alone. I’ve been in dark, shaky places. Most of the time, I feel like I’m wearing shoes on the sandy beach, with my ankles sinking and my feet feeling wobbly; unable to grasp any solid ground. My hands are always out in front of me ready to feel the ground if I fall down on the way to wherever I’m going. I try to prepare myself for the absolute worst. It’s okay to brace yourself for the worst, even if the worst isn’t coming.
This is a rough period in your life. Whatever you’re going through has your on your tippy-toes all day every day just to ensure that you won’t be caught off guard by anything worse. It has you on your knees, looking up at the sky wondering if anyone is watching you. If so, why would they let all of this bad stuff happen to you? Why aren’t they helping you navigate it? Why aren’t they helping to fix it? Why do things keep getting worse?
I don’t have any answers for you. I don’t know if anyone is in the sky, or Heaven or the afterlife. I don’t know if we have guardian angels or gods. I don’t know if the universe is a being who watches out for you. In this dark time, I’m not sure of anything anymore.
The only thing I know is that we have no choice but to go on. We have made it this far, and even thoughts of giving up scare us. It would be too easy, you know? It would be entirely too easy to give up, to start over, to start new. It would be impossible. There’s always a catch; nothing worth having ever comes easy.
We are in the long-run. We are in a fight to save ourselves. We hold a compass that only points forward. You can stop and rest as long as you like, but that dial will never point any direction but forward. Take the time to heal your bones, to heal your senses and your overall well-being. Take the time to be caught in the middle. But, remember, at some point you have to get up, dust off those hiking boots and continue on that journey.
Because we’re at the bottom. It feels as if we’ll never make it to the top. Maybe the top doesn’t exist. Maybe life is just one large incline in which we can fall off of easily, but can never surpass. I don’t know what awaits you toward the top; nor do I know that there is a top, per se.
What I do know is this: it gets better on the way up. You will gain your footing. You will take all the time you need to do so. The climb will begin again, but it’s up to you to begin. You are the main conductor of this journey.
You will be okay. We will be okay. You are never alone and you matter more than you can imagine. You were put on this Earth to rise up and scoop up all the opportunities that you possibly can. There will be a tomorrow. There will be an after-tomorrow. I don’t know what it holds for you, but I do know it holds you.
Let it hold you. Let yourself exist. Let yourself continue. Let yourself persevere.
You will find your footing once again; negativity isn’t permanent. You will find yourself again, one way or other. We always find ourselves where we are seldom looking. You’ll find your way out of the middle and back to the top, or at least further than you are now.
You will find your feet again. Let yourself find peace, no matter the circumstances. Let yourself live again. You owe yourself that much.