There are times when we can back out of taking on adversity. There are times when we have no choice but to face it. In the end, it’s a matter of choice how we choose to perceive it and tackle it.
A year and half ago I had to quit a job that for all intents and purposes was really good for my career. I had started with the company nine months earlier, I was promoted two months after I started and again five months into it. I was on a great upward trajectory but I was also very ill. I had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia before I started the job, and I had been told by five doctors that the excruciating pain I was in wasn’t going to go away, I was just going to have to manage. I soldiered on with my career despite of my illness until a couple of people who really cared sat me down and talked to me. I had to face that I needed to quit my job and take time off.
My career was over in my mind. I had been told I was going to be in pain for the rest of my life. There was nothing I could do. I felt like my whole life was over. I didn’t think anyone could ever love me like this so any romantic relationship was out of the question. I felt useless and old, and most of the time I felt too fatigued to bother. I was at home for months but I was even too tired to do any of the things I used to love like writing, drawing and painting. Then one day something clicked in my mind and I realised that I could literally take this lying down or I could start doing something, anything.
I started to make myself walk the two blocks to the grocery store every day just to get off the couch to give myself a break from Netflix and to get moving. It was exhausting and painful but I kept doing it. I’m fairly certain the people working at the store thought I was a bit weird for only doing a small shop every day but they seemed happy enough to see me which helped as well. I started to think about what I could do even when I was fatigued and in pain. I started paying attention to what really helped with managing the pain and eventually what made me have less pain, or how I could cope better with being in pain. I started to see when I was avoiding and distracting because of the pain, and when I actually efficiently managed it. I had on some level realised that basically I had two choices: I could give up or I could give trying to have a life despite the pain a real go. I had decided to give it as much of a go as I possibly could, and I started to really pay attention to when I had any sort of relief from pain using any sort of method that didn’t involve taking a lot of medication to dull things down. I realised that persevering is a mental game even when it’s related to physical illness and that refusing to give up is one of the things us humans do really well once we’ve accepted that we can move beyond thinking of ourselves as victims of our circumstances.
I realised that persevering in the face of adversity is choosing to keep going even when everything seems lost, and that persevering is at the heart of any change that requires us to make major adjustments. Persevering is trusting and having faith that there’s something better coming even when it seems like there isn’t.