Hey You, Just Keep Going
When people find out I post consistently on the internet, I’m inevitably asked about my ‘motivation.’
How can you be bothered to write something every week?
How did you get the energy or inspiration to get started?
This came up again last week when I caught up with an old mentor. As I was updating him on all the twists and turns on my creative journey, he interrupted and said, “I guess I just want to know how you stay so motivated, week in and week out.”
I stared at him, unsure of how to formulate a simple answer to such a loaded question.
“I just do,” I finally said, before hastily moving the conversation along.
The thing is, I don’t ‘just do.’ I suffer from a lack of motivation on a daily basis. Sometimes I’ll feel short, rapid bursts of energy where I believe I can solve all the world’s problems by noon. But it always evaporates as soon as I try to execute my plans.
Just the other day, I had to type the words ‘keep going’ into the search bar because I needed to read somebody else’s encouraging statements. I wanted someone else to fill me with inspiration and all the reasons why I shouldn’t give up now. I’m a huge believer that we need to be our own cheerleader, but sometimes we just need to hear someone else say that we’re still a strong contender in the game of life.
We’re living in a culture that idolises motivation. As someone who used to be an avid runner and a one-time participant in a marathon, people would comment on my running photo’s asking how I got the motivation to train. To voluntarily run non-stop for 42.2 km. Every time, I would just shrug, laugh awkwardly and say something lame like ‘vision boards.’ They’d then shake their heads while making some self-deprecating comment like “I don’t even have the motivation to run 500 m. Maybe one day I will.”
The thing is, I don’t know where I got my motivation from. All I wanted to do was test the limits of my own body and own a ceremonial medal. Now that it’s over (and my knees have given up), I no longer feel inclined to sign up for fun runs every Sunday. The desire to run at all, has well and truly left the building.
I’m learning every day that I can’t wait for motivation to show up before I commit to taking action. Motivation is that flaky friend who keeps re-scheduling at the last minute. She’ll make bold declarations of how you can conquer the world together, but when push comes to shove, she’s nowhere to be seen. Consistency and Accountability have no place in her vocabulary and she’ll show up only when it suits her. You get so frustrated when she leaves you high and dry, yet you also worship the ground she walks on when she finally graces you with her presence.
Oh, and her sidekick, Inspiration? She’s even flakier.
“You can’t wait for motivation and inspiration to hit you before you start,” is what a writer friend once told me. “If this is really what you want to do, then you need to learn to create on command.”
And so, come rain or shine, I’ve learnt to show up on the page every Wednesday so you’ll never refer to me as your flaky friend.
But the reality is, there will always be mountaintops and valleys. There are weeks where I feel like my voice isn’t enough to solve the world’s problems. There are days where it takes all my energy to string one eloquent phrase together, and I suffer from comparison on an hourly basis.
If you’re anything like me, then you’ve probably wondered if all of this is really worth it. No matter what you want to do in life, you’ve most likely stressed over whether the striving, the long hours, or just continuously putting yourself out there, will actually count for something. If all the grand goals you’ve set for yourself will actually be met.
I know you want to do big things in this world. I know you want to leave your mark on people and accomplish everything you’ve set out to do. But when the days are long, and you feel weary about the distance between here and where you want to be, it’s tempting to give up. I don’t blame you for feeling deflated when other people are running miles ahead of you, and you’re just tying your shoelaces.
I don’t promise this page will give you the motivation you’re looking for. But if you’ve ever needed someone else to tell you to keep going, let this be it.
Rome wasn’t built in a day
I will throw this cliché here because it’s a reminder that grand, beautiful cities with stories woven into every cobbled stone, don’t appear overnight. The place that we flock to, to eat pasta, gawk at buildings and fall in love, wasn’t an instant creation.
Neither is your legacy.
I’m guessing you grew up in the Maccas world like I did. The one where your hunger could be satisfied with $5 and in less than 5 minutes. I’ve now been conditioned to drive 500m and expect instantaneous results. So, it’s a massive blow to the ego when I can’t see the fruits of my labour immediately. I get salty. I believe I must have taken the wrong path. I wonder if I’ve gotten it all wrong and I’m actually meant to play small.
But no matter how many convenient inventions and shortcuts the world comes up with, the only thing we can’t fast forward is our own journey. That’s something that will never be instantaneous. The reason the universal remote from Click doesn’t exist is because we were made to live out every moment. We are meant to walk through every story, feel all the feels, and experience all the triumph. This is what contributes to your becoming. This is what makes you different from the pack.
I remember calling a friend last year and complaining about how discouraged I felt. I ranted about how I wasn’t where I wanted to be yet, and I didn’t know if I would ever make it.
“Maybe I’m from a different generation,” he said slowly “But four months isn’t a very long time. You’re barely halfway. We had to work far harder and far longer before we ever saw the fruit of our labour.”
As annoyed as I was by his advice, I knew it was rooted in truth. The moments I feel discouraged are the humble doses of reality I need to remind me that nothing worthwhile happens instantly. To fast forward the humble beginnings would be to short-change your transformation. To skip it entirely would be to miss out on a pivotal chapter of your story. So give yourself some grace when your dream is taking much longer than you anticipated. The slow journey is a gift and it makes every subsequent victory so much sweeter.
I’m starting to think my favourite word is Redemption because of how often I say it. I love redemption. I’m constantly praying and asking for the painful situations in my past to be redeemed with a sweeter ending. I get sentimental over dates on the calendar because I love seeing how far I’ve come in the span of 6 months or a year. I live for full circle moments where I can see the reasons why I had to endure a hard situation.
My most popular post by far is the one where I was raw and honest about the period of my life where I felt incredibly rejected and lonely. The circumstances that led to that was so painful and debilitating, that I would spend nights begging for it to be redeemed. Two years on from that fateful event, I was able to press Publish on a story I had once tried desperately to cover up. It’s now my most widely shared post. The vulnerability hangover hit me hard in the aftermath, but then people merged from the cracks to say ‘thank you for sharing, I no longer feel alone.’
And if I had to go through that angsty, dark period so somebody else would feel less crazy, then so be it.
In the same vein, I was so fearful of creating this corner of the internet six months ago because I petrified of what people would think. I wondered if anyone would really care about a 22 year old girl in Australia and all the hopes and dreams she had for this page. But last week, I got an email from a 27-year-old youth counselor in Montana telling me how glad she was that she’d found me. Someone who I never would have crossed paths with but for this corner of the internet, is glad that I’m showing up.
All that to say, if you give up now, you may never experience the joy that blossoms from seeing your journey come full circle. You won’t know who will benefit from the wisdom you have, or who needed your gift to the world. You may never experience the victory that comes from finding out why you had to endure that painful season or the redemptive ending of a story you’d rather forget.
Keep pushing forward irrespective if you believe other people are better than you. They may be, I don’t know. Someone else will always be better than you, but they sure as heck won’t have your voice, your stories or your gifts. To shut that down because someone else is playing in the same field, would be a disservice to all you have to offer the world.
Keep showing up even when you feel stuck. It’s normal to feel like you aren’t moving forward and like your circumstances are frozen in time. I used to always look for impressive signs and miracles, like fireworks in the sky or lightning bolts, to signify that I was on the right track. But the most impactful changes are microscopic. They happen slowly, consistently and gradually. Rest assured, no matter how stagnant you think you are, you’re transforming in ways beyond what you can imagine. You owe it to yourself to see that transformation through.
Keep going because you don’t know who needs you to appear in their life.
Keep going because all it takes is a smile from you to make someone’s day.
Keep going even when other people don’t believe in what you’re doing.
Keep going even when other people hate on your journey.
Keep going because it’ll break your heart if you give up now.
Keep going even if only one person cares. The ‘one person’ has to be enough for us. It’s tempting to want to live in the hearts and minds of a thousand people. But to chase validation from numbers will constantly leave us running on empty.
Not everyone is going to understand you or support you, and that’s a hard truth to accept. It hurts me now even just typing this, that the understanding I crave isn’t going to come from every single person. But I also think there’s beauty in it. Because when you find the people that do, it makes that bond extra special.
I don’t know where you are right now, but I know the story doesn’t end here. It can’t end here.
Stay the path.
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