In graduate school, it seems very easy to encounter a type of person who feels that the world at large is expecting great things from them. They might not assume that this grandiose type of thinking is realistically true, but, on a subconscious level, they operate under that assumption. They feel like they are capable of these great things, but that the actual materialization of those worthy feats somehow eludes them, like the distant horizon behind the thick, early-morning fog.
I sometimes feel like one of those people. I think that everyone does, at any given time. I don’t think that it is possible to achieve anything of worth without thinking like that, without thinking that, somehow, you’re better than everyone else and that the world expects things from you. It is a very difficult thing to acknowledge, since admitting it also entails admitting that you’re probably an asshole. You know that it is not really true, that you’re not better than everyone else, but you can’t help feeling like it is.
It’s hard recognizing it, but it’s even worse to realize the simple truth of the matter – nobody cares. No one cares. Not a meager, living soul. No one is expecting anything from you. You’re anonymous and irrelevant and it is the easiest thing in the world to remain anonymous and irrelevant. Immediately after you wake up, when you’re still lethargic, you look at yourself in the mirror and you know it, that the earth can swallow people whole and make them disappear.
The self-motivation required by the will to achieve is a miserable, daily struggle. You can become resentful. You despise others for not recognizing your greatness and you resent them for not demanding all these great things from you. When I get stuck in this type of thinking, I have to remind myself that the horrible, proverbial cliché is true – you can’t give up. When faced with the unsolvable conflict between your delusions of grandeur and the arid indifference of others, you have no other choice but to remind yourself of that fact that you cannot give up. If you’re even considering it, then, by all means, please do. If anything other than risk of death makes you think that there is an actual possibility that you might have to give up, then you really should.
Sometimes you need to give up. And you can, you know. You can give up because you’re not under any type of obligation. You don’t have to prove anything. You don’t owe anything to anyone. You should give up everything: work, dreams, projects, family, friends and lovers. You’re probably one of those people who faint at the mere sight of blood. Maybe you’re one of those people who think that luck is the main factor in success. It is fine to have doubts, but if you’re seriously considering giving up, you probably shouldn’t even have started in the first place.
You should’ve been an unfertilized egg, one of the millions of microscopic sperms suffocating in toilet paper after your father’s lonely Friday night. You should’ve been a missed connection, one of those quasi-traumatic events your almost-parents would’ve forgotten all about by the time they were proper adults with proper jobs and proper kids. Kids who do not complain. Kids who, even after a blatant display of cheap cynicism, have the common sense to dismiss this as work of a hack, a ne’er-do-well, just someone on the way, something to overcome, just another insignificant step in the ladder. This is not intended as some inspirational pep-talk invested in the wonderful qualities of reverse psychology. You can always give up, you know. And maybe, if you really think it’s not enough that you care in this moment — if you really think other people should care, too — you should.