Perseverance. The dictionary defines it as “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.”
This is something we don’t think about until we actually come face to face with something hard. This can be something we do every day, and we might not know it. I think any mother can agree that through everything, she perseveres, and any student can agree that through classes, they persevere… but why do we have to wait until we have some terrible obstacle to give ourselves credit for being strong and carrying on?
I’m still in a phase of Skinny Camp (Hershey Transitions) although I’ve wanted to “fire” them and “break up” with them many times. Tonight, in a discussion with a therapist, I couldn’t help but continually mention how hard this battle is, and how much I hate it. How sick I am of the constant fight and how much I want it to be over. How sick I am of gaining weight and following strict meal plans and my metabolism being weird, and how I’m so sick of “thinking about eating.” (how do you like all those crazy sentences?? :)) She said to me, “Rachel, I don’t think you’re giving yourself credit for the work you’ve done.” Immediately, I shot back, “you’re right, I’m giving you my pissed off anger for the work you’ve done in making me fat!” (yes, that’s the eating disorder talking…. and it may have also yelled a few other choice words in there as well, but that’s now where I’m going with this). It seems like I’ve reached my breaking point. Obviously, I can’t go backwards, I have no choice but to go forward (as we all always choose), but that doesn’t mean the walk forward has to be fun, or pretty.
As I was thinking about perseverance, and the process, I started to realize that we all persevere in on way, shape or form. We do all the time, whether or not we realize it. I think we always try to hide our struggles (big or small) and we are either too embarrassed to share them, or we feel vain wanting to feel strong for what we are handling (well…. or not well at all). I think, in reality, many people will see us in a different and much stronger light if they were able to see/hear our struggles and see how hard it can be, and how long we’ve held on. There is one thing that connects us all, and it is through struggles — there isn’t one person out there that isn’t going through something of some sort. Their struggle might be in a different form, but they still have one. I don’t think we often give ourselves
credit for the hard work we do. I do not give myself credit for the steps I’ve made because I’m not “at the end” yet. We don’t have to wait for the end to have it count as hard work and “perseverance.”
We’ve all seen them…. Those beautiful posters that are inspiring that show us what perseverance is.
I’ll attach some below.
Although this looks beautiful, this is the moment when you feel AMAZING! This is NOT perseverance! Perseverance isn’t that beautiful hour-long run you see… but the 55 minutes before that you struggled around tree limbs and roots and off balance and you wanted to stop running but didn’t… and you’re working so hard you think you might die — those 55 minutes are perseverance, not the awesome 5 minutes of running in the easy calm sunlight that made this picture!! Perseverance is not that beautiful rowing race…. It’s the hours of practice that go into it and the amount of team work and dedication that goes into getting ready for that moment of glory. It’s the late practices, off season workouts and the races lost getting to that one that is defined as “perseverance.” These could show you “half” of what perseverance is.
Perseverance is “hell week” of musical/choir/band before the performance when you’re tired and have so much to do and you want to cry, but you still do it. Perseverance is when you’re so overwhelmed with work, but your kids need you and so does the house and grading and your dogs and your spouse and the neighbors and recovery (like that run on? J). I realized is that this “perseverance” struggle isn’t pretty — in fact, it’s really freaking ugly! It’s the blood sweat and tears of the course. Perseverance is not the end result; it’s an action that is within us and it’s that awful struggle we feel when we want to give up, but we know we can’t. It’s not the beautiful picture with sunshine and clouds…. It’s a picture of a person rolling down bleacher stairs after having just lost a race and wanting revenge and to win the next one.
[totally random side note that will 100% tell you who I am as a person with my sarcasm]
These posters remind me of the herpes commercials that we see all the time. You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones where the guy and girl are frolicking through a meadow or a field carelessly and so happily, or they are riding bikes together through a cute town, or a nice path. We all know tihs…. that is NOT what herpes looks like. Now, I can’t tell you what it looks like as I’ve never contracted said STD (or any for that matter), but I do remember the pictures look like from my 10th grade health class…. I’m guessing, if I had a herpes outbreak, I WOULD NOT be doing either of those things, nor with such a carefree smile on my face! So, why do all of these people with herpes look so happy? They are so calm and they are enjoying life to the fullest (yes, I know they are selling a med, but let’s put that aside for the purpose of my rant). As they are frolicking together…. Let’s look at this…. ONE of you contracted this STD, and probably passed it!! Hello cheater!!!! Why are we ignoring the obvious??? The point I’m making is they are glamorizing herpes like it’s really not that bad! It is, people! It is!!! Safe sex all the way!!!! 🙂 Okay…. so that wasn’t the appropriate point…. The real point I’m trying to make is that perseverance is seen as this great thing that is just so wonderful, but nothing is great if it doesn’t come with a fight (let’s detach the perseverance struggle from the battle against herpes 🙂 ) Not the best example…. but those commercials really irritate me and I was hoping I’d find a way to slide it in…. welp…. here it is! 🙂 [try not to judge people, I’ve had a rough day and I felt the need to give myself a giggle] 🙂
I’m finding, now, in treatment that it’s okay to struggle. I thought it wasn’t. I thought I had to always be strong and put together and I wasn’t allowed to struggle. But truthfully, nobody is perfect. We can’t be. We can’t grow if there is no learning to do, right?? Learning isn’t easy, it’s hard. So, we keep learning, and keep moving forward. In that process of doing that, it’s okay to struggle because we aren’t ready to handle every situation life throws at us. Sometimes we get the easy toss (a tennis ball) and other times, we are pelted with grapefruits. I have learned that it’s okay to “not be strong enough” all the time. It’s okay to have moments of weakness and think “I can’t do this anymore” or “can I handle this?” or “can I actually do this?” or “am I strong enough?” Truthfully, if we didn’t stop and ask ourselves these questions, or regroup, that means we aren’t actually “going through” it, or we aren’t persevering. As humans, we are designed to handle problems and struggles (that’s why we are hard wired with emotions, feelings, strength etc.), if we are walking through life without these “ups and downs” then we aren’t truly “persevering.”
So, I’m sure you’re like me and you’ve not given yourself credit for what you’ve been through, or what you’re going through. It’s hard, it sucks, and it feels like there isn’t an end to it….. but there is always an end to everything and that is where perseverance comes in! Give yourself the credit you deserve for the hard work you put in, daily! Give yourself the permission to struggle because we aren’t all strong enough to handle it all…. all the time. There are times when we have to “fake it,” but we can’t do that through our entire life. We’re not always proud of our struggles, but after we overcome it all, there will be pride there. I challenge you to take a moment and think about your own struggles and give yourself credit for how far you’ve come. You might still have more ground to cover, and it might still be a struggle, but you deserve credit for where you are, and where you’ll be…… and it’s okay to struggle, because perseverance isn’t always pretty — in fact, it’s freaking ugly at times!:)
And in the famous words of Joe Dirt…….. Keep on keepin’ on! 🙂