Nobody ever really tells us this one. There is no pamphlet for it and no instruction manual. Some of us spend our whole lives trying to save other people, some of us see it as our calling, some of us make it our profession; our religion. And we become good at it, more or less, to the detriment of our own welfare. We learn how to save the lives of others, but every time we do we lose a little bit of ourselves in the process. Every time we acquiesce to the needs of another do we somehow lose a bit of ourselves, or do we gain something back from the act of giving?
Some people do, and some people don’t. But at some point, most people reach a point in their life where they look at their energy meter and see that it is on “E”, and that does not stand for “enough”. Sometimes you are just done; you have had enough, you are through, ready to throw in the towel. There are times when you feel like life has won, and you just want to give up. You fall to your knees and look up at the night sky, wondering why this is, this life, this everything so goddamned hard? All you want is peace, quiet, all you want is to pick the road less traveled, the silent path… But you cannot really, you have to keep on living… or do you?
At times like this, some of us, our thoughts turn to darker places. When we are sick of playing The Game of Life, there really is only one winning move, and that is not to play. Our consciousness begins to dwell on suicide, and some part of your brain, the part responsible for self-preservation, searches desperately for a lifeline, some single thread of light to shine through the opaque depression that covers you and everything you think and do. Because really, none of us wants to die; it is a conclusion we come to like question on a multiple choice test where we just want to pick “none of the above”. It’s like a wrong turn that leads to a dead end. Suicide is a 6-sided Rubix cube that has 8 colors. This is where our pedagogues and politicians have failed us; they have taught us everything; how to save and conserve every life but our own. What do you do when the person threatening your very existence is yourself? How do you do it, how do you save your own life?
First of all, you cannot save anyone else before you save yourself, and the first step is to never, ever give up on yourself. You may give up on everything else in your life, but never, ever give up on yourself. You may lose faith in every institution, every politician, every religion, everyone around you, but you cannot go on if you lose faith in yourself. You can’t ever escape yourself, so never let yourself down. No matter how much you drink, or how many drugs you do, you’ll still be there in the morning, unless you do so much that you find the cure for Living. But we are trying to avoid that, remember? So I say again, never give up on yourself. Some of you may not understand what I mean by this. Well, there is something of worth in all of us, something worth keeping alive, one little spark of light worth keeping alive. Most people have more than one spark, we have great big blazing fires of potential that are gradually buried beneath an inveterate deluge of shit over the course of months or years. Even the most stalwart of personalities can only take such a life for so long. Even if you are mostly useless, there has got to be something good about you. Maybe you’re dumb as a brick and have the personality of one, but you are good looking. Or you are devastatingly intelligent but also devastatingly hideous. That’s something. Find whatever that is about yourself and hang onto it, and make that spark grow, because I guarantee you somewhere, someone in the world needs that talent. Someone needs you and that ability you have. You just cannot give up on yourself before you find that spark and make it grow. And when you appreciate yourself, and your spark, others will see it to, and they will appreciate what you are and what you have become because you have recognized your own sense of self worth.
Through Hell and High Water, do not give up on yourself; bang your head against the wall, punch it till your knuckles bleed, but don’t you dare give up. That is how you stay alive. Some people say the only way they know they are alive is through pain, so they cut themselves; that isn’t pain. Pain is going through a whole MA program only to discover that you cannot get you license in counseling because of the wording of your Masters Degree. That’s more pain than any Emo cutter will ever know.
Real pain is loving someone knowing full well that they won’t love you back, but honestly and truly in your heart wanting what is best for them. That is pain. I don’t make it sound appetizing, this living thing, do I? Most of the time it is not. There is one reason, one thing that makes living worth it; perseverance. Proving people wrong, beating the odds and coming out on top anyway. Like Kanye said, “giving up is way harder than trying”. Become stronger from every defeat. Double your resolve every time someone tells you no. Do it again and again, harder, faster, better, stronger, until you can’t tell what’s your blood and what’s your sweat anymore. That’s the only way to get ahead in life, risking it to get what you want.
Life can be cruel, life can revel in the abject destruction of everything you have, and laugh at you while you try to pick up the pieces. Life can take your mother from you suddenly at the age of 23 with no warning whatsoever, and leave you with no reason to go on with your meager reality. But what can you do? Give up on the people who are counting on you? It may be easy to, they don’t know what pain you are going through, but can you give up on yourself? Can you give up on all of the promises and dreams you have had since you were a child? Don’t you think you owe it to yourself to make the best of your life, no matter how hard life fights you along the way? Fight back. You may not win the first time, or the 5th time, or the 60th time, but never let life beat you. If you take that approach, no man or woman will ever be able to sway you either. If you are constantly at war with the fates for your destiny, what does it matter what some guy or girl says about you? You do your best and leave the rest up to fate to decide.Finally, not everyone in the world will be against you. Sometimes, you will be lucky enough to find an ally, a friend who believes in you despite the fact that you don’t. Hold onto these people as if your life depends on it, because it does. If you want to survive the low points in life, you have to have good friends. They cannot save you though; just like you cannot save them. But they can be the tools you need to help you save yourself, and that’s good enough. If you have yourself, and you really care enough about yourself, what you went through to get where you are now, and what your family did to put you where you are, you have part of what you need to save a life. If you have friends to look after you and pick you up and dust you off when you get knocked down, then you are damned near invincible. But the most important part is the belief that no matter how many times your face hits the floor, you can get to your feet and keep swinging. Life isn’t like boxing, it isn’t about how many times the wind gets knocked out