There have been a lot of moments in the past few years where I have wanted to just give up.
To stop doing what I'm doing. To choose something easier. To choose something where there's a clear and obvious path. Where I can follow in someone's footsteps. Where success will be a an iron-clad guarantee and not just shred of hope waving in the wind like a white flag.
I have a tendency to push myself right up to the edge of my limit.
And invariably this means that I get to that limit. And then I go over it.
I feel how easy it would be to break.
How delicious it would be to just run away. To stop. To give up. To say "fuck it". To just quit at the moment when things get grimy. But then, after privately shedding a few tears or ranting or just lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling, I find a way to keep going.
This, I believe, is the key to growth.
The only reason I've managed to acquire new skills and become less of a jerk is because I've pushed myself to the degree that I am humbled. Truly humbled. Not kind of. Where I really truly start to wonder if I'm completely and hopelessly useless because I'm attempting something that feels so foreign and difficult that it makes me feel like a child learning how to walk.
The first time I went on stage to perform my solo show after having been off stage for over 4 years, I felt so sick I thought my internal organs were going to explode.
I kept asking myself, "Why am I doing this?" But I knew that I had to just walk out on stage and face every fear I have and do the show. And so I did. And then again the next night. And the night after that. It got easier with each night.
But what if I had walked away?
What if I hadn't gotten on stage? If I had just quit because I felt scared? How would my life be different if every time I felt scared I just stopped.
This is something that I need as reminder.
To not quit. To not give up. To challenge myself. To keep going. You would think it would get easier, but it doesn't. Because the limit keeps moving. There is no "finally there". There is no end to the journey. There is no end to the cycle of growth. Unless you decide to stay the same.
And that's a choice a lot of us make.
To stay safe. To do what's comfortable. To be okay with stagnation and stasis. And then we slowly begin to hate our lives.
Unless you do work that humbles you at least on a yearly basis, how are you growing?
How can you challenge yourself to go further, if you are not pushing yourself to your limits and then a little bit beyond?
In the moment you reach your limit, you'll want to quit.
That's how you know you're there. If you don't get that feeling of "holy shit, I want to quit right now," then you know you haven't reached your limit yet. And you gotta keep going.
Sure you can't stay in that zone for very long.
It's difficult as hell. It's exhausting. It's a trial by fire, and eventually you'll get burned. But if you can stay in there just long enough to get a little bit singed, and then move through to the other side, you'll be stronger and more compassionate and more humble and more grateful for everything you've learned and seen and felt and done along the way.