Recently, there seems to be a very strange bug spreading among some of my friends. All of them are beautifully talented and fabulously creative. All of them once had a big dream, a wonderful vision. But somewhere along the way, when the road got bumpy and the journey seemed to be taking too long, when the first book didn’t become a New York Times bestseller, when the first attempt to get a client didn’t work out, when they first got rejected, when they immediately didn’t become millionaires, they decided to fill their life with excuses and quit. “It’s too hard. I’m not really talented. This is not meant to be. It’s frustrating. I can’t afford to.” I could go on and on.
First, I tried to stop this weired epidemic. I tried to encourage, support, clarify, motivate, coach. I was shocked. I watched them in disbelief, in pain. I saw them kill the flame, the talent, the possibilities, and I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Until I did.
Following your dream is a nice phrase, and it sounds lovely and pink when it’s still in your head. But when you finally roll up your sleeves and get down to serious work, it’s not a rose garden or a walk on sunshine. It involves hard work, disappointment, pain, obstacles, nasty people, sleepless nights, raw emotions, empty bank accounts and loss of “friends”. It’s the toughest, yet the most beautiful journey in the world. It takes forever, it makes you cry, but it also makes you feel alive. And it’s not for the faint of heart. It won’t be handed to you on a silver platter. It must be fought for.
I admit, every now and then I entertain the idea of quitting. Living a simple life, free of worries, fears and doubts, being small, thinking small, staying invisible until one day I breathe my last and no one even notices. And that’s when I get back on my feet, wipe off my tears, bandage my wounds, and face the next challenge. I’m not a quitter.
I know what I’m going to say sounds tough. (Actually, after I said it to a couple of friends who caught the “quitting bug”, they got very upset. Maybe we’re not even friends anymore. But I’m not a girl who pulls her punches, so deal with it.) “If you’re willing to give up on your dream, God-given gift and talent so easily, you don’t deserve that dream, that gift and talent. If you choose to not write that book, not create that sculpture, not compose that piece of music, not paint that picture, you don’t deserve to write, create, compose or paint. And one day you will die with your music still inside you, and it’s going to hurt.”
So if you’re entertaining the thoughts of giving up right now, these are the three words every writer (and artist of any kind) must know, remember and repeat to herself 24/7: Do. Not. Quit. Quitting is easy. Persisting is sacred.
You don’t have to believe me. You don’t have to take my word for it. Just listen to the following fellow adventurers. Ponder their words. And do not let “Quitter” be your middle name.
Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while DARING GREATLY so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory or defeat. (Theodore Roosevelt – 26th President of the United States)
Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desired can be won. It exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours. (Ayn Rand – Russian-born American author)
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. (Mark Twain – American author)
And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. (Anais Nin – American author)
Pay no attention to what the critics say; no statue has ever been erected to a critic. (Jean Sibelius – Finnish composer)
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that frightens us. We ask ourselves: “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. (Marianne Williamson – From her book Return To Love)