“So what would you think of me now? So lucky, so strong, so proud…I never said thank-you for that; now I’ll never have the chance…” *
Tonight I was out for coffee with a friend and I was discussing a friend of mine who is going through some stuff. He suggested that I could offer some encouragement to her by sharing some of my experiences, but I said I wasn’t sure I was comfortable doing that. He asked me why. I explained that if I ‘failed’ at helping her, then I couldn’t live with myself.
“You don’t need to save the world,” he said.
“I don’t want to save the world,” I replied, “I just want to save one person.”
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He asked me who this ‘one person’ was. I said the name – he didn’t know who I was talking about.
Earlier this year, one of the ‘followers’ of the Libero Network took her own life. She was only thirteen. I wrote a tribute to her, grieved for a period, and then tried to move on. But I didn’t.
Now here I am, almost a year later, saying that the only person I want to save is her.
I looked my friend in the eyes and said, “So, if saving someone who can’t be brought back is my only goal, then I suppose that means everything I ever do will be in vain.”
“It wasn’t your fault, you know that right?” he said with sincerity.
I kept talking. He repeated himself.
“It wasn’t your fault.”
I remember this girl. She was one of the few who added me on Facebook. And at the time, as I tried to balance my personal life and my ‘blogging’ life, I chose to “unfollow” the posts from anyone who I didn’t know personally (meaning their status updates etc… would not appear in my news feed).
I didn’t know that this girl had made multiple cries for help via Facebook status – at least I didn’t know until it was too late.
What if I hadn’t been so selfish? What if I hadn’t blocked her updates? What if I had seen her cries for help?
These questions would create a deep-rooted sense of guilt that would follow me up until now, and they would leave me haunted by what could have been.
If only I’d known – I could have said something, I could have helped, I could have saved her…
But how proud I was.
I cannot save anybody. And my aim should never be to do that. We are not called to save each other, and I am no exception to this. To think that I held the power to save another life and that if only I had been there, things would be different –
How proud I was…
And now, here I sit, still chained to this one desire, this one goal – I will never be satisfied until she is back.
It is impossible. Unattainable. Unfair.
Of course, I know this is something I can and will never be able to do. So why can’t I give up this obsession?
It’s simple: because I don’t want to.
As long as I set my goal to something unfeasible such as this, then I can always justify viewing myself as a failure. And I won’t ever need to feel that I am more than that.
And based on the guilt I’ve been carrying with me, being a permanent failure seems like fair punishment.
The truth is, setting impossible goals is a cop-out.
I’m copping out of forgiving myself, I’m copping out of seeing value in my life, I’m copping out of loving myself.
And this is not OK.
As long as I remain within this mindset, then the rest of my life will be a sprint to a finish line that doesn’t exist. It will be exhausting, painful, and, most importantly, self-defeating.
Unfortunately, I am not sitting here tonight telling you that I have it all figured out – this is something I am working on. But what I am doing is encouraging you to look for the impossible goals you have set in your life – the goals that will keep you back from ever feeling like you are good enough. The goals that will give you an excuse to view yourself as a perpetual failure.
Maybe you are in a similar situation as me – blaming yourself for a life lost and hanging on to ‘if only’s…” OR maybe you are striving for acceptance from (and only from) a person (or people) that you know you will never receive it from – I have this tendency too – using their value of you as the only way you measure your personal worth. OR maybe your goals are to look like someone else – a model, a singer, a friend, a sister – and until you do, you don’t have to see yourself as ‘beautiful’.
Whatever your goals are, I ask that you realize that they are impossible, and then throw them away. Throw them far away. Don’t let these impossible desires justify your feelings of self-hatred; don’t let them justify seeing yourself as a failure. Don’t let them become a cop-out..
What I am realizing is that in the same way that I can’t save a life, I can’t be responsible for a life that ended. And in the same way that I can’t be liked by everyone, I can’t feel responsible for those who choose not to like me.
You are human, and that’s Ok. You are imperfect, and that’s OK. You are not a superhero, and that’s OK.
You can’t be loved by everyone. You can’t succeed at everything. And you can’t save a life…
* Jimmy Eat World “Hear You Me“
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