Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Art of Embracing Defeat

Could I have chosen a better title? Perhaps, perhaps.


I'm starting to learn that as you grow up, it's not that you become better at winning. (Let's face it, in the world today, it doesn't seem like anybody's winning.) You're not always going to be harvesting luck or constantly succeeding. You don't "finally win", but rather, you simply become better at accepting defeat.

One and a half months into 2017, and it's felt like a couple of the most difficult months of my life. I'm not gonna go into an "I'm a mess and my whole life is feeling like a sinking disaster" type of rant but I will say that over the course of only several weeks, I've fallen far too many times without even having the time to properly get back up. And maybe this has happened to some of you too.

See, one failure is normal. It's hard, sure, but by now, everyone knows about the "sometimes you gotta fall first to get back up" speech. But there comes a season where you don't fall once, or twice. You fall perhaps, sixteen different times. In the span of three weeks. Or you find yourself in a chain of waist-deep, bad-luck, why-is-this-my-life situations from the moment you wake up to the minute you fall asleep.

There's no reason for these phases; they just happen. Even to the best of us.

When asked about what my New Year's resolution was a few months ago, my answer was simple:
"Survive."
And boy, was I correct.

The truth is, and it hurts a little to say this, my year so far has consisted of more failures than successes. More setbacks than leaps forward, more mental breakdowns than spiritual awakenings, and more heartbreaks than parties. A fitting metaphor for how my life feels like right now would be a beat-up truck driving through a muddy road of unpleasantries. It's not apocalyptic. Despite spending many afternoons in bed crying or being depressed over countless things, I know that this is just the "ashes" part of my life that I will rise from.

But how do you cope?
  1. Allow yourself to feel. - Your emotions are valid in this process. A lot of people tend to say "Aw, don't be sad," when trying to console a friend and frankly, it's not a sentence I like to say anymore, both to myself or other people. It's better for me to just admit that yes, I'm feeling sad this afternoon, and that's that. I'm feeling angry or anxious or immensely tired, or maybe all of these things combined, and that's that. I don't suppress my feelings hoping to maintain composure throughout my life because in reality, life isn't linear. It's not a line that steadily goes upward. Sometimes it goes downward and sometimes the line turns into curves and even makes circles. One of the hard things I've also recently learned is that my friends aren't always going to be there for me, and that's just something I have to live with. So in times like so, the least I can do is be there for myself. And through all of this, I've learned that allowing myself to at least have feelings is just one of the signs of accepting, and honouring, myself. Let yourself breathe and give yourself room to be human.
  2. You should laugh it off if you can. - It might suck if you constantly fail in biology or you broke your car one too many times or you find yourself having these setbacks in multiple aspects of your life but come on, guys, it's a little funny. As a person, I like to use dry humour to conceal my real feelings or emotions. Not in a cynical way, I'm just that type of person. But when life starts to suck, turning it into something to laugh about could be the ray of optimism your soul desperately needs. Honestly, "hahaha I can't believe how crazy/stressful my life is right now" sounds a lot better and healthier than "I want to kill myself because I hate everything that is happening." No problem is eternal. It's 2017, everyone has solutions to everything, and deep down, we all know that. So for the time being, if you can, just laugh and acknowledge the mess that is your life right now.
  3. You move forward. - If your life also feels like a beat-up truck driving through a muddy road of unpleasantries, stopping the engine won't move the truck to a better location. What do you do to get out of the road? You keep going until the road ends and leads somewhere else. In such a difficult time, maybe you'll spend weeks crying about it, maybe you'll find a way to laugh about it, or maybe you'll just have to work your way through it. But whatever storm you're facing currently, someday you'll look back and see how it shaped you. This final step takes a little bit of forcing yourself, but hey, sometimes you need some tough love to be able to keep going. 

Because I haven't written in a while, I do hope my post today makes at least a little bit of sense to you. This isn't coming from any research or profound knowledge whatsoever, of course. I'm speaking purely from my experiences, and what my heart is telling me this afternoon.

So friends, my hopes for you is that you hang on. I also pray that you could come out from a season of trials a little braver, and a little tougher, because that's what the world needs right now. Brave and tough people, who don't give up easily. And lastly, I hope you look within your heart, and you finally hear that tiny voice, relentlessly whispering to remind you, "It's not the end of the world."