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By Katie Marshall
There is a “Give Up Point” along every journey we take.
Whether it’s something finite and important to you like completing a painting, finishing a degree, or writing a book, or something that requires the special kind of courage that looks a lot like vulnerability, like applying for a dream job or ending a nightmare relationship, or something that will require diligent habit change like ending an addiction or starting to eat better – there is a Give Up Point. Even through the baseline human experience of trudging through the day-in and day-out difficulty that can be adult life after 22-years-old, there is always a Give Up Point along the path.
The Give Up Point is always easier than the road you’re on. It requires less effort. It asks so little of you. While your dream was once sexy and exciting, it has waned in appeal as it demanded more and more from you without any guarantee that you’ll get there in the end. The Give Up Point is seductive – all indulgence, no effort. The Give Up Point looks like a comfortable bed after the longest day of your life and feels like a participation trophy – good enough, it says. You were there. The Give Up Point is a siren, singing a song lamenting time wasted on a project unfinished, begging you to let go of the ridiculous dream you’ve been holding on to.
You may be familiar with The Give Up Point – most of us are. It presents itself as an option just as an idea introduces itself to you, and then manifests over and over again throughout the process of your work. We all have one. Yours may look less like a rest stop and more like a warning sign at the edge of the beautiful unknown – “Are you sure?” Or maybe it sound like a fair-weather friend, encouraging you to doubt yourself, to give up, because what does it matter, anyway? Everything ends. And your idea isn’t that great, anyway. Why go after that dream when you could scroll through Instagram for another hour instead?
And before you know it, you’ve made a home for yourself at The Give Up Point, too comfortable to leave, too easy to walk away.
The Give Up Point can be helpful, as all things can be. It is good to take a break now and then. But you cannot stay there. The Give Up Point is a rest stop to turn into during the long drive of the work you’re doing – always keep this in mind – because it will trick you into complacency and stuck-ness if you stay there too long.
Life is as hard as it is beautiful. The projects, moments, accomplishments, lives and dreams that come into existence and stay there have all done so because someone, somewhere, decided to flip The Give Up Point the middle finger out the window as they drove past it, driving mile by painstaking mile onward, fueled by hope for something more and gratitude for what is here now. It is possible, then, to know the option to quit exits, to even visit with it, sit with it like a friend over coffee, but to continue on.
The first step to passing The Give Up Point is knowing that you can. Courage is not the absence of fear – it is the acceptance and acknowledgement of your fear coupled with the belief that what you are doing is more important than how scared you are of it. Understanding that you can keep going, that you are strong, important, and courageous enough to carry this thing that you love on your back for as long as it takes is the first thing you must do to keep going.
The second step is entirely up to you.
1. Clothe yourself in armor made entirely of bright colors and lavender oil. Wear whatever makes you feel like a superhero or your version of a superhero. Dressing the part makes us feel the part.
2. Open every window of your house and let the rain in – literally and metaphorically. Rain is a sign that a cycle has both come to completion and is beginning again. Embrace the rains of your life and thank them for clearing out the debris, no matter how dreary the experience may feel, it always ends in sunlight.
3. When you feel stuck, write down five things that you have done already in pursuit of this dream. When you’re done, write two more things you can do to keep your momentum going. Do these two things immediately. Acknowledging what you have already done will empower you to do more. Action is the cure to procrastination.
4. Go for a walk without listening to music. Listen to the birds or the wind or nearby traffic. Consider the trees and how long it took each of them to grow as tall as they are now. Things grow in silence. So can you.
5. Change one small part of your daily routine. Regularly come home and watch Netflix after work? Watch a documentary or stand-up comedy special instead of re-watching The Office, again. Have a salad for breakfast. Listen to a new band or podcast on your commute. Drink tea instead of coffee. Take a bath instead of a shower. Tweaking your routine can inspire you to change course with your mission at hand.
6. Think of someone you used to love but no longer speak to. Send them good intentions in your mind and your heart. Wish them well. The kinder you can be to others, the kinder you can be to yourself.
7. Apply to a job in another country or to a role you are technically unqualified for. Letting yourself reach for something big will remind you of how far you can go. Plus, applying for a job is technically a low-stakes endeavor; you will still be here, doing what you are doing, no matter what this company says, if they say anything at all.
8. Sing along to a hopeful song. Wildly, loudly, out of car windows or into a microphone on Karaoke Wednesday. Sing your tired heart out and with each breath you breathe in between lines, remind yourself that you are here, you are alive, and no matter how scared you are of failing, there is always something to sing about.
Most importantly – question The Give Up Point. Ask it why it showed up right now, just as you were beginning to start a new chapter or after you have already written 500 pages. The answer will surprise you.
The Give Up Point is as scared of you as you are of your dreams. It wants you to fail and live between the walls of what you could have been and what you started to do. It is scared – and it can be defeated.
So rage. Fight. Dance. Sing. Do whatever it takes to get back on the road of your life.
Keep going. Because whether it is your dream, your manifesto, or your life – there is so much more ahead.
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