“Just existing on some days is more than enough. The flowers do it every day and they add beauty to the world just by being here.” — Nikita Gill (@nikita_gill on Instagram)
I haven’t started one of these things with a quote in a while, but this one stopped my scrolling finger mid-swipe. I was in the zone, mindlessly going through Instagram, and the first sentence caught my eye. Hold up, what? Did I read that right? Just existing is enough. That can’t be right. It sounds nice, and it would be amazing if it was moderately believable.
But, it’s not. Right? It can’t be. It’s just one of those flashy, bite-sized morsels that make me feel all warm and intellectual for a few minutes. And then a funny dog video comes up, and I forget all about it because it’s too frilly to hold onto. Except, I took a screengrab, and I’ve been reading it over and over for a few days.
These words have been turning around in my foggy, reality sodden brain. The knee jerk, oh that sounds lovely, reaction has switched off. I’m ruminating on an idea that seems too precious to be true. Why? Excellent question, but the answer requires some self-analysis, which will trigger uncomfortable emotions. I’d much rather go back to watching funny dog videos.
Okay, fine, I won’t spend the next three hours mindlessly scrolling. I’ll take some time, look inward, and determine the root cause of my obsessive cogitation. Ha, that’s a funny word. Cogitation. Giggle out loud. No! Stop procrastinating. But digging through these thoughts and feelings makes my brain itch. If I can’t deflect with humour, then how do I scratch it?
Five minutes of TikTok time! Which would be more like fifty-five minutes, so… Damn it. I’ll put my phone away and focus on these awkward, brain-tickling emotions.
A couple of days ago, I mentioned that I’m not in the best headspace right now. The stay at home order is getting to me, and now they’re saying we have to do more to stop the spread. More? How much more can we do? I just…I can’t… I don’t want to play this pandemic game anymore!
Logically, I get it, and I’m in complete agreement. We need to protect each other and the most vulnerable people in the community. As a vulnerable person whose immune system can’t do the most basic chores? I’m incredibly grateful that so many people have stepped up and made the necessary sacrifices. The majority of people are doing what they can, and that’s amazing. You rose when falling would have been so much easier, and that makes you remarkable.
Yes, I’m just going to ignore the special few who live in an alternate reality. Since the majority offers hope, I’m sticking with you. Thank you for your sacrifices! You are incredible.
But my God, it’s getting hard to carry on, isn’t it? I don’t know how much longer I can go on like this on an emotional level. Physically and practically? I’ll go on as long as I have to. It’s the mental game that’s getting to me right now, and I’m starting to falter. I’m not falling, not yet, but I’m feeling a little tipsy.
Though, if I’m really looking at those uncomfortable thoughts and emotions? It’s not just the pandemic that has me on edge, worn down, and feeling incredibly vulnerable. It’s one more thing that tops off a dozen others that brought a single question to my mind. It’s not a question I like asking, and the answer scares me. I don’t want to ask, and I don’t want to know, but there it is, popping up in my head one more time.
Since it’s the title, no spoiler alert: Is it ever okay to give up?
The follow-up question, and it’s an important one, is: On what? What do I want to give up? Writing. The silly dreams I have for myself, my future, and my life. Is it life itself? What do I want to give up?
And my brain is itching. I want to close my laptop, open the window, and throw it into the creek. Be free little computer. Be free! Where are the funny dog videos when I need them? I don’t want to write these words anymore!
Before anyone gets worried and starts dialling numbers, let me say that this is purely a cerebral exercise. A thought experiment rather than a mental health crisis. I’m not spinning in a dark and dangerous vortex that leads to despair and other icky things. I’m posing a question. That’s it. It’s just a question, and asking it is an exploration of my mindset and what I want out of life.
So, I’m asking it again. Is it ever okay to give up?
That’s a loaded question, and it makes people twitchy. If you came to me and asked me if I thought it was okay for you to give up? Well, I’d jump to conclusions, become incredibly concerned, and I would want to make sure that you’re okay, you’re safe. After a momentary rush of adrenaline from a monumental leap, I’d come back to my senses and ask what you’re talking about.
What do you want to give up?
Smoking? Do you want to quit that because, yeah, that would be a healthy lifestyle change, and you deserve to feel your best. A job, a relationship, a lifestyle or a hobby that you just don’t enjoy anymore? Yeah, if you think it’s the right thing to do, then drop it like it’s hot.
Wow, I’m a dweeb!
Life? If that’s what you’re talking about, then please hear me out. This is coming from someone who’s struggled with that thought and knows that feeling very well. You’re not as alone as you feel right now. You are needed. You are not a burden.
You are precious, you have so much to offer, and I know you might not be able to see that right now. But the world needs your kindness, creativity, and empathy. We need more people like you. People who care deeply, feel strongly and love genuinely. People like you are the sparks of hope in dark times, and that makes you our northern star.
You’re needed and wanted, so please don’t give up. There’s help out there so, reach out. Call, text, take yourself to the nearest hospital. If you think you might do something to harm yourself, please ask for help. Please, if you’re thinking about quitting life, then ask for help.
Again, this is coming from someone who’s fought off those thoughts and asked for help. I understand where you’re at right now. You are incredible, and the world needs you.
Whew, okay, now let’s get back to a more cerebral place because that emotional space is kind of heavy. Not burden heavy! Just, I don’t like revisiting certain parts of my past very much.
So, in any other context, is it ever okay to give up?
When you ask the question, I respond with compassion and ask for clarification. I want to know where you’re coming from. But when I ask the question? I shake it off as a silly thought and try to distract myself with videos, scrolling, and I crank my music up way too loud. I don’t want to think about it because asking the question triggers feelings of guilt and shame. We’re told that asking is wrong. Thinking these thoughts are bad. Wonder out loud if you still belong here?
Oo, I guess I’m still in that emotional headspace. So much for cerebral!
Asking that emotional question is not done, but perhaps asking the question isn’t the problem. Running away from the answer? Hiding from the truth? Pretending that everything is okay when you are at your utmost limits of sanity, fortitude and self-compassion? That’s a big problem, which is why I’m asking the question now.
I’m resisting the urge to distract and run away because I know the answer. It’s uncomfortable, and I’m not sure it’s what I want to hear. But I’ve already said it. No, giving up on something precious, amazing, wonderful, and unique isn’t an option. Not for me. Not yet. So the real question is: What do I want?
And here I find the long stretch of silence. Are those crickets? If a game show theme song starts playing, I swear… Sigh.
What I want feels unattainable so, does that mean I shouldn’t try? What do I have to lose by trying? At this point? Nothing because if I fail, I’m in the same place I was when I started. If I succeed? That’s a hard question to answer because, quite frankly, I haven’t succeeded at a whole lot.
Other than not dying the six dozen times I should’ve? I don’t count that as an accomplishment because I had very little to do with it. Other than squeeze my eyes close, hold on, and wait for whatever was to come. Well, I did very little.
I had a professor who said that most people aren’t afraid of failure. We think we are, but what scares us more is success. We know what our lives look like if we fail. They don’t change which ew, that’s not a great thought. But when we succeed, our lives invariably change and what that might look like is a mystery. It’s the mystery, the unknown and the unknowable, that scares us so, we give up before we have a chance to succeed or fail.
Is that what I’m doing now? Asking if it’s okay to give up because I’m scared of what will happen. Quite possibly. Dying is easy. Living is hard. Especially right now, when so many things are piling on top of my shoulders.
Our shoulders! I’m not the only one sitting in this weird limbo. It looks different for each of us, and the stressors might vary. The struggle, though, is universal.
So, I can’t be the only one asking this terrifying and controversial question. I’m just asking it out loud because one of us has to, right? Break the wall down, ask questions we’re not supposed to ask and face the uncomfortable feelings head-on. Since I have nothing better to do, why not, eh.
Right now, I want to give up. I want to curl into a ball, scroll through things, and watch stupid videos because life is hard. I don’t want to play anymore. My energy is gone. My motivation has vanished. My inspiration? I don’t feel particularly inspired. There’s only so much you can do when you spend ninety percent of your day staring at the same four walls.
I, quite frankly, want to give up on a lot of things! There’s a list that I’m this close to laminating.
But then I feel guilt and shame because I am incredibly lucky. I have a home, food, and people who love me. Asking these questions, now? I’m cringing and pulling away. A bubble of emotions are sitting heavily in my chest. Scream. Cry. Throw my computer over my balcony. Laugh? Dance? Run through a field and flop down in a puddle.
I’m all over the place, and none of those places have the answers I’m seeking.
And that brings me back to the quote I read a few days ago. Somedays, like today, existing is enough. Being present is okay. There’s beauty in simply being without needing to define our existence or find purpose in every breath. There’s a sense of freedom in the release of that constant drive to be more than whatever we are right now.
It’s also okay to take this moment to ask the questions we’re not supposed to ask. It’s okay to say the words out loud. If asking leads to answers or if it leads to a cleansing breath? The outcome isn’t as important as the quest for some semblance of peace.
Or, does that sound too frilly to be true? Back to the funny dog videos!