I gave up 2 weeks before my 20th birthday. Some people might read that as being an awful thing, a sign of weakness, a sign of hopelessness, but it remains to this day the best moment of my life.
I was a law-school dropout, returned home with my tail between my legs, never escaping the ‘failure’ label and the sympathetic looks. I fought hard to overcome it, getting a job I loved with far more responsibility than anyone my age would be expected to have, getting into a serious relationship, surrounding myself with the ‘right’ kind of friends, projecting the outward appearance of perfection.
Until one night, sitting in my room, contemplating my mortality and using a pillow to muffle my sobs, I wondered who the act was benefiting. I had settled into a life where I was walking a tight-rope looking down at the net of failure that I’d worked so hard to climb out of time and again. What was life though, if one long act of misery and pretence? How much longer could my character remain the princess before she was uncovered as the pauper she was?
The answer was, of course, not for long. My public loving relationship hid the emotional and physical bruises of a man who used my trust as leverage to hold me captive at his side; my friends as shallow and temporary as the masks I wore to hide my true feelings; my job becoming an ever more impossible task as I slipped into the throws of depression. No matter how hard I tried, my reality was catching up to me faster than I could outrun it.
My perfect life was a sham, a fantasy that I had tried and failed so hard to replicate.
As my life crashed down around me, I did the only thing I could think of; I ran. I left my job, my relationship, my ‘friends’, my entire life behind me. I left the country, started a job I loved in a place where I knew no one and nothing and I started again. I reveled in the chaos of it all, the newness, the ability to be myself. I made mistakes, a hundred times over, but they led me to people who love me for who I am (flaws included). I did things I could never have dreamt of previously, embarrassed myself a hundred times, and I realized how little it all matters.
It’s true what they say; you never know the true value of a memory in the moment but I am so grateful for the memories I have made. There is so little time to look back on the errors of the past when you are looking ahead to each day with a new hope you have never felt before.
So my advice to anyone is this: Give. Up. Not on yourself, or your dreams, or your life. Give up on other people’s expectations of you, give up on hiding your true self away, give up on doing what you think you should do instead of what you want to do. Just give up.