“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” – Ernest Hemingway
Funny thing. I’ve always thought it to be the opposite. A man can be defeated. Time and time again. But he can very rarely be destroyed.
Nowadays, I see a lot of people that have been broken up by life. Psychologists claim that this generation is ill-equipped to navigate the complexities of life, that the lack of emotional resilience leads to a series of mental issues and addictions and maladaptive behaviors.
Enough fancy words. Let’s get to the point.
If I were to look back at my last decade, the years between my seventeenth birthday and last Christmas, I’d say that I have been broken by a lot of things. It was like stumbling from one defeat to another. I could write a sad story, and depending on your mood, you’d feel sorry for me or not.
The lack of money, the health issues, the mental issues, the trust issues, and all sorts of other issues. The people who broke my heart, the people who broke my spirit, the ones who walked away never to come back. Truth is, they’re all excuses. Truth is, all of those experiences can make you strong or break you, and the choice is up to you. The effort is just the same.
I’ve spent way too much time dwelling on my losses. Wondering who did what, who was to blame, what should have happened that never happened…
You want to know the truth?
Doesn’t matter who’s to blame. It could be you, it could be someone else. But it’s always your responsibility. It’s your job to dust yourself off and get back up again. No one’s ever going to do it for you.
Spending so much time being held back by past defeats, I know it can seem like there’s no way out. I get it — failure hurts. But, unless that failure kills you, then you just have to keep going. It’s not over yet. You’ve got to keep fighting, no matter what.
I know I wrote about it in a recent post, but I’d like to repeat myself: I decided to start this blog, and to write novels, and I was more than willing to die otherwise. I was either going to be successful or die. There was no other way.
Some of you might call “bullshit” on this, and I get it. But this doesn’t make it any less true.
And yet, even so, there are a bunch of things that I’ve call quits on. Novels that I didn’t publish, books I never even finished writing. There are even some books that I didn’t have the guts to start writing. Projects that I envisioned but never pursued.
And I can find a bunch of excuses and make them sound valid. You’d understand. That’s why we’re a therapy culture. We have so much sympathy for pain and suffering, so many things break our heart, and yet we seldom do anything about it.
I’m guilty of this. Are you?
But my failures were not death-blows.
You can survive everything up until the very thing that kills you. And that’s going to be the last thing you ever do.
But what’s important is that I tried stuff and when things didn’t go the way I wanted them to, I learned from my mistakes. I accepted the loss. I embraced the failure.
What’s not okay is keeping your head down. That’s what breaks my heart. Every single day, when I see people on the street or meet them, and they have this defeat they carry around, and you can see it in their eyes, you can see it slowly eating their souls. They walk around like empty shells. Their voices quiver. They do not dare say what’s on their mind unless drunk to the point of passing out.
Never, ever, ever, ever, ever keep your head down. No matter what. Die fighting, not huddled up in a corner, wishing for the blanket of comfort to keep you warm.
In life, there are going to be some pretty hard blows you’ll have to take along the way. Shake it off and get back up. You’ll inevitably lose a battle or two, but you’ll learn from them and come out even stronger and win the next ones.
I may be struggling now, but I know what I want to do, I know where I am going, and I am not giving up.
It’s always been do or die for me.
There’s no such thing as undefeated in life. But you can choose not to let life destroy you. You can choose not to let life eat away your hope, and your joy, and your passion.
Losing is just a part of life, and the quicker you realize this, the sooner you won’t be paralyzed by the fear of failure. By default, you need to be able to respect your losses.
There’s no such thing as “undefeated” in life.