When you're banging your head against a door that you're hoping to go through and it stubbornly doesn't open after X-amount of time, do you ever wonder if this dead end was just meant to be, or if persistence is your key?
How do you know if you're supposed to keep trying, or if you're supposed to read the room and move on?
This applies to an array of situations, from relationships (romantic or friendship), to career goals, to work situations, to personal goals. I know you've been there, because every one of my friends and I have discussed this at one point or another (or many).
Last year, after my worst year ever, overflowing with the hardest life events I've faced, I was, unsurprisingly, in a bit of a reflective state. Pondering life, choices, and the future, and what had mattered so far in the past.
I sent a soul-bearing DM to someone who had a significant impact on me at a critical time in my life, who probably barely remembered my name at this point as years had passed. This was ten months ago. To this day, my DM hasn't received the blue tick mark to indicate they've read it. That means a) they have read receipts turned off, have read it, and haven't replied; b) they don't know they have a "requests" section in DMs from people they don't follow, and therefore don't know it's there so haven't read it; or c) know they have a "requests" section in DMs, saw my name, and don't want to read it.
I didn't regret sending it immediately after, and still don't. I've assumed it's a "meant to be" vs. I'm giving up too soon. At this point, if I assumed what happened was B and tried another way to contact this person, but they actually did an A or C, I'd look like a complete weirdo.
It's the same in any pursuit. Your lifelong dream is selling a screenplay, or getting hired by a specific company, or, I don't know, getting a literary agent and a publishing deal (let's just speculate), and you've been working your buns off for 2, 5, 10 years to get into position for that pursuit to come to fruition, and no one's answering?
It's really hard. Someone sent me a comic that I've saved on my computer that shows two miners digging a tunnel looking for diamonds. The guy on top doesn't know that he's feet away, and is busily throwing everything he's got into it, pushing ahead. The guy on the bottom doesn't know that he's inches away, and has turned around, dejected.
I love that reminder that you never know how close you are to what you're working toward, be it a friendship, a job, a promotion, or a personal breakthrough. And that you should never give up if it's important to you.
But is that always sound advice?
If the goal hurts no one else, and you're doing your best, and believe it's for good, I'm tempted to say yes. But sometimes it might just be that this thing isn't for your ultimate best, or for the best of others involved, and that it's just not going to happen.
Earlier today I listened (on repeat, can't lie) to Taylor Swift's tune "the 1". As always, she has a few killer lines, like:
In my defense, I have none
For never leaving well enough alone
Can relate. So much. Most people who know me would chuckle and maybe roll their eyes. I've been known to keep working toward something beyond the point of reason. But I'd like to think I've learned my lesson when it comes to dead-end relationships. But when it comes to pursuing a life/career goal, trying to create something that inspires other people, I still feel those are good things. So it's hard to know when to give up.
Does a giving-up attitude mean it was never meant to be? Or is it never meant to be and therefore I should give up?
Another brilliant line in that Swifty song:
We never painted by the numbers, baby
But we were making it count
This makes me think of how sometimes, you achieved or received something out of an endeavour—something that counted—even if it's not all you hoped for. And now you've got to accept that's the limit, take what you've got, and jog on.
I might never reach my current personal goals. But maybe what matters is what I'm getting out of it now, still, even if I don't know the end result yet. When the work I'm putting in starts to feel not worth the goal—when I stop enjoying the part of the path I can see—I'll stop trying to open that door.
But as for knowing whether my old acquaintance will read my thank you or if it's brightened their day, I may have to err on the side of acceptance, and turn it into a story instead.
(Or maybe I already did).