I’ve been there. Standing in the doorway where you are faced with only one question – the answer to which will decide whether you will turn back around or will walk through the door and fall into the abyss.
The question: To be or not to be.
It all happened almost exactly a year ago today. There were other times when I had wondered whether it would be easier to simply not go on than to go on, but this was the first time I fully entertained the thought and had very nearly come to the conclusion that to not go on was the easier option.
Details as to how I got to this place I feel are irrelevant and could go on for pages. In a nutshell, life happened – life in a form that, according to my taste, was incredibly bitter. See, we all have different tolerance levels and react in different ways to circumstances. I know that I have not had a traumatic life; however, I have reacted to things in traumatized ways. William Zinsser said “No area of life is stupid to someone who takes it seriously,” which is so true and if I were to say it, I would replace stupid with trivial.
So let’s just say that though my problems may have seemed trivial to some, they were in fact not trivial to me because I took them very seriously.
I think at this point I need to pause and make an important point: Whatever it is you are going through, do not feel guilty for the extent to which you hurt or feel about the situation.
If you are feeling depressed and you feel guilty about this because perhaps your problems are miniscule compared to so-and-so who you remember from high school, remember: your problems, your feelings, are not trivial – because they are real to You. They are your feelings and maybe others think they are unjustified, but they are yours nonetheless and they are real, so don’t feel guilty. Some people are faced with uncountable traumatic experiences and losses whereas others are not, but that doesn’t mean the latter are not deserving of compassion too, that doesn’t mean their circumstances don’t count. Everyone’s circumstances count. I want to make that clear.
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Back to my story…
So here I was, not wanting to go on. I found myself lingering in my apartment by myself…ideas running through my head. So what was the first thing I did? I got out.
I didn’t know where I was going, I just knew I couldn’t be in there by myself because I couldn’t trust myself. So I went to the most public place I could find and just sat there – it is SO important to do this. If you ever feel you are in a position where you are considering the idea of hurting yourself, GET OUT! Go somewhere public, call a friend, do whatever it is you have to do, just be safe – I sat there watching people walking by.
I felt like a hollow shell, like a spirit watching the living, unable to interact with them, my ghosted, invisible arm reaching out to them for help, but going unnoticed as they passed by.
I sat for awhile and then when I felt ready, I wandered over to a place where I felt safe – my professor. I sat across from him – still just as lifeless – and in a shaky voice, I told him that for the first time I was seriously contemplating whether or not to go on. I could hear the question echoing throughout the room: “To be or not to be.”
My professor clearly wanted me to choose the first option, but he also knew that his desires alone couldn’t control anything – I needed to choose it for myself. And so he talked to me – asking me questions about what had happened and why I found myself faced with this question. He did a lot of listening; I did a lot of talking.
Here is what I concluded:
I realized that my life is a story, everyone’s life is a story, and in stories, there is hurt, there is fear, and there even is a tragedy; however, that doesn’t have to be where the story ends.
So often, if you stick it out through the novel or movie you find that the pain does stop, the sad scene does end and moves on to something better – often turning the tragedy into something with a beautiful outcome.
I have come to realize this is how life works – so often pain and hurt is a gift in disguise, a gift that will be revealed if you have a little patience. And that’s what I realized, I realized that I needed to have some patience, I needed to ride out the pain because as I writer I know how foolish it is to end a story prematurely. One day my story will be over, but this was not the day; my story was not meant to end that way – nobody’s is.
We were never meant to decide when our story ends. We were never meant to make that call…
That being said, I believe that most of us will find a time in our lives when we are faced with the question of whether to be or not to be, and some will feel it to a greater extent than others, and some will make up their minds quite quickly whereas others may ride it out further, even further than I did.
Once again I must pause and add this: as you can tell by the simple fact that I am writing this blog, I chose To Be. And it was the greatest decision I have ever made. The most important decision I have ever made. And I have not regretted it for a second – not even on the dark days. If you remember nothing else from this post, remember this: I chose to be and in no way do I, or have I ever, regretted it.
That is why I think it is important for you to decide the answer to that question now. Decide now that, no matter what, you will choose TO BE.
Like all important decisions (and what could be more important than this?), you don’t want to leave the deciding for a time when you are emotional, frightened, angry, or in the thick of it, rather, you want to make the decision when you are of sound mind.
So decide today that you will always choose To Be.
Write it down in a note to yourself. Write it on a poster and hang it above your door. Film yourself saying it so you can play it back later. Tell your friends this is what you have decided. Do whatever you have to do so that if the question ever comes (and I pray that it never does) you will always, always choose To Be.
And if you are asking “What is the point? Nobody cares anyway? Nobody would notice that I am gone?” then let me say this once and for all – by deciding to read this blog, you have now become a part of my life and I am a part of yours. And I love you. (This is the only part where I will plead) So if you are in this moment faced with the question “To be or not to be,” please, please, PLEASE choose to be because I am here and I care and I would notice.
And if you feel the world would be a better place without you, then instead of robbing us from you completely, the bad and the good – because just as no one is all good, no one is all bad either – figure out why it is you feel the world would be better off and then change it. Changing the part of you that you don’t like is sometimes not easy and, yes, simply stealing yourself away from the world for the sake of the harm you might be doing to it is the easy way out* – but when has the easy way out ever paid off? I think we all learned at a young age that the shortcut is never really all it is cracked up to be.
I did. And I will never look back…
Don’t steal yourself away from us.
You are not alone.
Choose life and you will never look back. I promise.
You will never regret it.
* I do want to clarify that when I say it is the ‘easy way out’ I am only saying that in that moment it does feel [in many ways] that it would take greater effort to try and find reasons TO BE than to simply end things, so I am merely trying to counteract that thought process.
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