Tag Archives: perseverance

I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again

21 Feb

A few months ago, I wrote a post about fighting the ball, you know, the one that you want to curl up in when it feels like life is just not going your way, that calls to you when everything is falling apart.  And when I wrote it, I was fresh off a victory against the ball; I did not succumb to it, I did not give up on myself or my dreams, and I kept moving forward.

Well, it turns out that the battle against the ball is far from a one time endeavor.  And it also turns out that the ball had some victories of its own in December and January (traditionally difficult months to fight the ball, see:  self-diagnosed Seasonal Affective Disorder).  Disappointments pummeled me back into ball formation.  My self-esteem has holes in it, where rejection can seep in and take root.  And then I believe in the disappointment and rejection, and lose my belief in myself.

And then there’s the thing about getting your hopes up.  People sometimes say that it’s better not to get your hopes up, because then the pain of disappointment will be even greater.  And people say this for a reason – it’s true.  There have been many times when I’ve dared to be hopeful, only to wind up being even more painfully disappointed, and the ball, which has been hanging out quietly in the background, maybe getting a soda at the refreshment stand or texting some friends, is instantly ready to step back into the ring swinging.

But here’s the other thing about hope – I don’t want to lose it.  I don’t want to stop hoping in order to protect myself from pain, in an attempt to shield myself from future run-ins with that ball.  Because that would mean becoming cynical and numbed out, and I refuse to live that way.  And besides, without hope, curled up in a ball could become a permanent destination.

I’ve been reminded over the past few months that fighting the ball is an ongoing battle.  It slowed me down in December and January.  But it did not stop me.  It knocked me down.  But I got up again.  It’s never gonna keep me down.

A few weeks ago I was at Starbucks and the barista asked the guy on line behind me how he was doing and he said, “Another day, another dream destroyed.”  I can relate.  It is staggering how much belief in yourself is required, in the face of how many people do not believe in you, and the countless disappointments and rejections.  How much I have to keep digging deeper and deeper to find more reserves of belief, more slivers of hope, when all signs point to curling up in that ball and giving up.  And this might seem obvious but it is rarely my default mode so I have to repeatedly remind myself –  at times like these it is helpful to reach out to the people who do believe in you!  So I dig deep, and I reach out.

The ball might have been ahead in the past two months, but I am back on my feet and pulling into the lead again.  And the fight is making me stronger.

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Fight The Ball!

23 Nov

A few weeks ago, I was faced with the challenge of believing in myself even when I didn’t think I could anymore, when I was putting myself out there in what felt like every direction, and getting nothing back but rejection and radio silence.  I wanted to keep going, past the point where, historically, I would give up.  Past the point where, traditionally, I would curl up in a ball, on my bed or on the floor, whichever was closer at the time.  And cry.  And stop.  Trying.  Stop.  Doing.  What I hoped to do or longed to do or needed to do, because the rejection just hurt too much.

There’s nothing wrong with hanging out in a ball sometimes.  It can be very nurturing, and healing, and even exactly what I need, to take a time out, and allow myself to feel sad and disappointed and hurt and discouraged.  Just let it all out, and comfort myself and nurture myself and move through it.  But the problem is, I tend to get stuck in ball formation.  For a long, long time.  Like, one might say, at times, that I’ve spent years in various combinations and permutations of literal and metaphorical balls.  And while I’m there, I don’t believe in myself.  I believe the rejection.  And I stop trying, with whatever project or projects I was working on at the time, that I was so intensely passionate about and consumed by and determined to succeed with, pre-rejection.  I accept the apparent limitations of my life, painful as they may be, because that seems like the less painful alternative to pushing through the rejection.  Because doing that would require getting even more rejection.

And now for a word from my negative, critical, self-defeating internal voice:  I can’t do that.  I’m exhausted just thinking about it.  So don’t mind me, I’ll just be over here in the corner, curled up in my tight little ball.  Yeah, that’s cool, you can just step right over me.  Or step on me, whatever, I don’t care, nothing is ever going to work out anyway…

OK, now back to me.  As much as I appreciate her input, I’m pretty tired of listening to it.  Make that really tired.  So, a few weeks ago, when she started piping in with, “What’s the use?” this and “Why don’t you just give up?” that, and “Hey, doesn’t curling up in your favorite ball formation sound so good right now, I challenged myself to challenge that voice.  To reject the rejection that I was getting and keep going, anyway.  To believe in myself, past the point I had ever been able to believe in myself in the past.  To believe in myself when it didn’t feel like anyone else did (this wasn’t actually accurate as many people believe in me, but you know how that pesky, negative, critical, self-defeating internal voice just LOVES to distort the truth).  I made the choice to stay upright and moving forward, and to believe in myself even when I didn’t think I could.

And it was kind of touch and go there for a little while.  I was on uncharted ground and my legs were shaky.  They so wanted to give out and curl up.  But then, as I was wavering, my best friend started sending me emails and texts that said, “Fight the ball!”  And I started to catch that fighting spirit.  I started to feel feistier.  And then, when the rejections came in, instead of wanting to curl up into that ball I know and love and then on top of that, kicking myself when I was down, I found myself, in this other, feistier internal voice, defending myself against the rejections.  And I felt my belief in myself grow stronger and stronger, and not despite the rejections, but because of them.

And no, this was not the most fun way to strengthen my belief in myself.  I’d much prefer to grow my belief in myself while I receive glorious acceptance after acceptance.  But, that’s not how it happened for me, and I gotta work with what I’ve got/am getting in any given moment.

And then, some good things of the non-rejection variety happened!  (Imagine, that voice that said that that would never happen, LIED!)  While I want to enjoy them, I don’t want my self-esteem to get caught up in and tied to them either, because that, while temporarily better feeling, is just as much of a trap as tying your self-esteem to rejection.

So for now, I’ve made it past my historical wall and through my traditional limits.  I know that as I keep moving forward, I will encounter more walls, more limits, more seductive siren calls luring me to drop it all and curl up in a ball.  But now that I’ve proven to myself that I can do it, when the time comes, I will be well-armed with my feisty don’t mess with me internal belief in myself, and ready to fight the ball with all I’ve got.

What do you do when you want to curl up in a ball, call it a day/week/year, and give up?  How do you keep going, or get yourself out of the ball and back in the game?  What works for you, and what doesn’t?  When is curling up in a ball actually helpful, and when is it not?