When You’re About to Give Up, Remember Who You’re Doing This For
I’ve always found that working towards any goal is much easier when you have someone who will hold you accountable for your actions.
Left to my own devices, I could happily lay on the couch with a good book all day, daydreaming rather than doing.
If I’m going to start working out, I need a gym buddy. When I decided to go vegan, I had a friend making the same change in her life, and we faced those challenges together. When I was on a swim team, improving my times always felt more manageable because I had twenty-five other girls around me pushing for the same thing.
When we have someone else in our life who won’t let us give up, we find more motivation to keep moving forward even when things feel impossible.
Likewise, it’s a lot more difficult to justify giving up when you’ve got someone depending on you. It’s one thing to trudge off to work every day when you’re young and single with few obligations. But when you’ve got a family to feed, you have a responsibility to work in order to provide for them.
I’m on the brink of a pretty big change in my life, and with some major decisions to make, I was searching for something or someone that would motivate me to move in the right direction.
After living in Ireland for grad school and doing some traveling, I just booked a one-way ticket home to the US.
It’s finally time to buckle down and start getting serious about my career, but I’ve got a constant internal debate going on: should I pursue my dream of becoming a full-time freelance writer, or should I aim for a more stable path and just continue writing as a hobby?
Lately, I’ve been wishing I had someone else in my life facing a similar challenge so we could motivate each other, and while there are no shortage of young writers on Medium grappling with the same question, none of my close friends write or freelance in any field.
And as far as obligations go, I don’t even have a pet fish to support. There are a grand total of zero people depending on me right now.
Simply put, I’ve always performed better when I had someone struggling right next on me, or someone depending on me to succeed at whatever I’m struggling with.
Unfortunately, this is a solo struggle session.
And that makes it so much more tempting to give up before I even give it a real try.
But there’s one person who always stops me right before I break down and just forget about the whole idea.
Every time I’m sitting at my desk with my head in my hands, wondering why I ever let myself believe I even had a slim chance at becoming a successful writer, I pause for a moment and reflect on where this journey began.
I remember being in kindergarten, sitting at the kitchen table with my mom. I was just learning to read and write on my own, and I had already decided that I wanted to write a book.
My mom was nice enough to be my scribe for the day. She bought me a little blank book, wrote down everything I said, and then let me illustrate. We made a great team.
It was my first day as a writer.
And from that moment on, I knew what I wanted to be.
How could I give up on that girl?
Turns out, there was someone there to keep me on track all along.
It’s so easy to forget who we really are in a world that is constantly telling us who we need to be.
When you’re ready to give up on your dream, to turn back from a certain path rather than walking it alone, remember what you wanted before anyone told you what you “should” do.
On those days when I want to quit writing, to forget the future I had always imagined for myself, I do a little thought exercise.
What if I had to hop into a time machine, walk into my childhood bedroom, and sit down with that little aspiring writer, with her stacks of books and journals full of short stories and tell her:
“I’m sorry, but I gave up on our dream.”
Just the thought of it is more painful than facing every obstacle on the path to actually achieving that dream.
Maybe you’re in a similar place in life. Maybe you’re trying to chase a dream that you’re not sure will ever work out. Maybe you’re pursuing a creative career path, and you’re constantly discouraged by those who tell you that you’ll never make any money.
Sometimes the best way to keep moving forward is remember exactly why you started.
Remember that kid who stayed up until midnight reading under the covers, who could stay content with their colored pencils and a sketchbooks for hours, who always wanted to borrow their dad’s camera to take photos, who just had to try out for every school play.
When everything else is working against me — and I’m sure there will be many more moments like this in the coming months — I just cling to one thought.
I get back into that time machine, rewind about 15 years, and tell my childhood self exactly what she would want to hear:
“Don’t worry. I’m not going to let you down.”