when the going gets tough, remember your sense of purpose

by wynlim

When I started to blog I promised myself that I would write about both the ups and downs. I’ve always wanted to maintain an authentic online persona and I cannot be authentic if I only write about the ups in my life.

I think I didn’t want anyone to worry about me if I wrote about the downs, but then I realized I could be honest about the downs and yet write about how I try to react positively to them. I say try, because I am only human.

I mentioned in previous posts that the past year has been a rollercoaster ride so far. I have gone so high on top of that ride that when my precious macbook pro got stolen in SF last year I didn’t even feel upset about it. I knew I was getting a lot of good in my life, so losing a material possession wasn’t a big of a deal.

The caveat with such positive thinking is that it requires strength and positivity – the ability to process thoughts in a logical manner. When you’re down and out, the ability to have clear logical thoughts is impaired. They ain’t kidding when they say everything starts to go wrong when you’re down and out. I have only realized recently this is because we lack the cognitive ability to make good decisions when we feel like shit. Thus we spawn a vicious cycle of one bad decision after another. So during a time when you need positive thinking the most, it probably fails – probably what one gets instead is thought after thought of fear-induced paranoia.

The key to snapping out of bad cycles is awareness. It starts with the awareness that my thoughts are not me. Actually, even prior to that, it starts with a deep understanding of one’s self. Who is my one true self? After 31 years of life, I can safely say though I am always evolving, when it comes to crunch time I have never been scared to make a tough decision. My true self always wanted to be true, free and living life to the max. I have never, ever wanted a mundane life.

So when the going gets tough, I ask myself, what would my true self want? The other morbid version would be, if I were to die tomorrow, how would I make this decision? When one’s mortality is concerned, most people will tend to realize a lot of things fall away in terms of perceived importance.

I don’t care what I do in this life as long as I am proud on my deathbed. I do not want to die thinking, “I could have been more fearless”. Given a choice of a safe,comfortable existence vs a tiring life full of adventure – the choice is obvious.

I say my paranoid thoughs are not me – because I know these thoughts resulted from years of fear-conditioning externally. Years of “no you cannot do this”, “you’re such a disappointment”, “no this is not possible”, “no this is not realistic”, “you need this, this and this in order to survive”, coupled with people giving me sympathetic looks because I chose to live my life differently from them.  

I had never known fear when I was a little kid, I had never known how it feels like to have your soul crushed repeatedly, I had never known the pain I brought to people I love because I didn’t subscribe to the mainstream ideals of chasing a “stable” life. Yet the older I grew, the more obvious it was that I was causing pain to people around me by just being me, so I grew fearful of everything. 

I was scared to be myself, I didn’t even like the idea of life itself. Why would life be meaningful when I cannot even be myself?

It took me a long while, of examining my self, my true values, that I realized the painful existence of my fearful self was not really me. 

If I didn’t have any expectations of people to meet, I would be a nomad or a vagabond. I wouldn’t be concerned about how much money I have in the bank or whether I can ever make enough money to buy a house. I would never be afraid of being homeless because if I am all by myself I don’t really mind being homeless. And nobody will be hurt to see me homeless.

But now I have a different set of expectations. I have expectations of myself to meet. I want to be proud of my life when I die.

For this stage of my life, that means I want to work on something I will be incredibly proud of, and I want to be in a position whereby I can have more impact on the change that I want in this world. 

And when the going gets tough, when I feel down and out, this is what I repeatedly tell myself. Whatever I am going through is nothing compared to the bigger picture I am fighting for.

When everything goes wrong there is only one thing we can fall back upon. That is – our sense of purpose. Nothing to me is greater than my sense of purpose. Nothing is more motivating than remembering that I would rather choose to have my current circumstances than to have a safe, comfortable, mundane existence. 

This is what keeps me sane, keeps me breathing, keeps me believing. That even at the moment whereby every inch of my soul feels fatigued, I will not give up on my sense of purpose. I refuse to give up my dream of being proud at my deathbed. 

I hope whoever out there who is still reading this long, rambling post, that you would feel somewhat similar. That we can be tired, we can feel like shit, but that sense of purpose will never fade away. Together we can be the change we want. I really believe so, from the core of my heart.