Giving Up on Giving Up

So, a combination of conversations with friends, self-reflection, small group, and a long-running dialogue with a friend have helped me arrive at this conclusion. My lack of care for myself has become something of an obstacle. I don’t have lofty goals of wealth, fame, or gratuitous amounts of success that seem to be a regular part of the American cultural ideal. I’m ok with that, because I don’t particularly like a lot of the cultural ideals that I’m presented with, but I lack ambition to the point where even if I set goals, I have no strong commitment to my personal goals and ideals. However, I’m really motivated when it comes to helping other people. I like helping others achieve their goals and do what they want to do with their lives. I am better motivated to help other people realize their futures than I am motivated to achieve my own.

Before moving to Korea I had a massive struggle with myself over whether or not I should just give up on my future goals and just become a piece in helping someone else achieve theirs. Ultimately I decided that on my better days I do have something that passes as a hope and ideal for the future that was worth pursuing, but I still struggle daily with the desire to just give up on those goals and exist in this kind of neutral state (live from day to day without any future hopes). It’s not necessarily that I want to die, it’s just that sometimes (on my bad days) I have very little care about whether or not I continue to live. If I were to summarize my feelings about myself, they would be “I’m not worth very much.”

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While this may be a realistic view within the larger history of existence, I struggle with finding a way to practice this worldview in a healthy manner. It’s not so much personal negativity as it is existential apathy. Looking at human history, there are billions of people who have long since been lost to the history of the world without any memory of their names and actions while they were living. Realistically speaking, this is the fate for most of us as well. It is as inevitable as the rotation of the earth. Few people make it into the history books, and fewer still are accurate portrayals of the person rather than the ideal they embodied. Looking at all this makes me very aware that whatever it is that existence is about, it’s certainly not about me. I’m far too small and insignificant, and who am I to say that I ought to be someone who goes down in the annals of history as a name and a face for students to learn about in their history textbooks while being bombarded with the dominant narratives of their culture? There is little worth in that.

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As I mentioned in my “Facing Fear” post, one of the questions that has been frequently on my mind is “When will it all fall apart and what will I have done to cause it?” This has probably been one of the contributing factors to my struggle with motivation regarding my personal goals. When I sometimes believe myself to be a walking disaster waiting to happen, it makes it difficult to expect myself of being capable of good things.

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It’s an odd sort of arrogance, to not think highly of myself but still spend so much time thinking about myself. It is a self-centered sort of thinking, and rather silly. It’s as though I’m saying, “I’m not worth much, but I’m worth the time to criticize and doubt and question and devalue.” The best solution I can find for that is to find a habit of truly thinking about others more than myself (both in the positive and negative regard).

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I have a lot to live for and a lot that I’d like to do with my time here. One of those things is to help others to the best of my ability. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to be so energized by the idea of helping other people. I think I just need to realize that in order to do so in the best way possible, I need to better myself (both in my outlook on life and me and by education, which is one of my future goals). So, my plan for the immediate future is to give up on giving up. It’s been far to easy for me to say, “Oh, they didn’t email me back, I guess they don’t want me.” “Oh, well, that doesn’t have a particularly high probability of success, so it probably won’t happen anyways. I shouldn’t try very hard.” I don’t know where I’ll find the motivation or energy for the effort, but I’m going to do my best to try. I know the great sage Yoda is credited with saying, “Do or do not, there is no try.” But to that I say, doing and failing miserably is trying. It is doing, but it’s not doing well, and that’s what I’m going for. So, until then, I’m going to call it trying.

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End note – I realize a lot of this sounds messed up and unhealthy to some of you reading this. Guess what? It is unhealthy. Such is life with depression. So, with that being said, whatever the strange combination of chemical imbalances have caused me to think so little of my own existence and have kept me from strong amounts of motivation, I’m still here. I don’t want to go down in the history books, but if I can help it, I will not go quietly into the night.

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