The only way out is through.

The day started like any other. I remember that I was feeling a little off, and still wearing my PJs even though it was early afternoon. Someone knocked on our front door, which surprised me – I wasn’t expecting anyone. I threw on my London Calling t-shirt over my PJ top, peeked through the blinds to make sure it wasn’t our (highly unethical and usually drunk) landlady, and opened the door.

It was a man from the electric company. He, not unkindly, explained to me that he was there to shut off my electricity, and told me that if I could write him a check for $X (I don’t remember how much it was, but it was more than we had), he could leave without shutting the electricity off, and it would be several days before the check went through, giving us more time.

I nodded, trying to maintain composure, and told him I’d go get my checkbook. Closed the door & breathed deeply. I came back after digging the checkbook up, wrote him the check, thanked him and told him to have a nice day. I stood in the doorway and watched him get back in the truck and drive off, and then I shut the door and sat down on the couch.

And I cried. Big, deep, heaving, breathless sobs, because I did not know what the fuck to do.

I felt helpless, and frustrated, and I wanted nothing more than to have someone else sweep in and fix everything – fix the electric bill, fix my car that had broke down (with a $1,500 repair price tag) literally the day we moved in, fix the lying landlady, fix the job that Matt hated that paid peanuts, fix my attempts to make money (from home, since I couldn’t drive anywhere because of my car and we had moved into a suburb with no public transportation) that were only unevenly successful so far.

I wanted to go to sleep and have a fairy godmother flit in and solve it all with a wave of her magic wand. I wanted to wake up in a shiny new life with all of my problems gone.

Life, as we all know, does not work that way.

That incident was in 2009 and there were others. I remember Matt and I having the discussion last year that we needed to get a roommate, because we couldn’t handle the rent on our own. I remember, as recently as August, pleading with the lady at the bank on the phone about removing a series of overdraft charges ((That had been caused by a deposit being run through literally 30 minutes too late by the bank’s standards. I really hate banks. (We don’t use one now.) )), my voice cracking (and my pride hating me for it), as I explained that I had just broke my foot and we don’t have insurance so it was expensive and the pain was affecting my ability to work and we really needed that money for food. ((She did take the charges off and was very compassionate about it, for which I was wildly grateful.))

The only thing that kept me from tucking tail, moving back to Missouri, and getting a “real” job was my sheer stubborn tenacity. I told myself, and everyone else, that I could do this, and fuckitall, I have.

Now, over two years after the fact, I can see that my tenacity has paid off. It’s taught me invaluable things about myself and got me to where I am now. I no longer doubt my decision to stick it out on a daily basis. (And? We paid rent this month entirely with money I earned. Big progress!)

However, back in 2009, sitting on that couch and sobbing? I had NO CLUE if things were going to work out or not. None. At all.

This is the point:

Somewhere in your life right now, you’re contemplating giving up. The gurus & experts (in business & in self-help) often pontificate on the value of sticking it out, even when you aren’t sure if you’ll succeed. But in the examples & stories they share, there’s not often much at stake – losing face in front of your boss, for instance. It’s easy to read those stories, compare them to your own life, and ask yourself, “Is this worth it? Am I stupid? Am I crazy? Am I going to end up totally destitute with everyone in my life hating me?”

I’m here to say: it’s worth it. You’re not stupid or crazy for hanging in there this long. You’re an amazing person with a hope, a wish, a dream, and you can make it happen. I promise. I believe in you. 

(If I could tell this to the sobbing-on-the-couch me, I would; but I can’t, so I’m telling it to you.)

Keep your chin up, sweetheart. I know you can do it, and deep down, you do too – that’s why you’re still hanging in there, clawing your way up the mountain. One day, you’ll be standing on the top, and you’ll know it was all worth it.

Until then, the only way out is through – so keep climbing. We’re rooting for you.

If you’re going through hell, keep going. – Winston Churchill

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