Unless we’re put in an extreme situation, we may never find out what we’re capable of.
But for the most curious among us, we humans are so fond of the path of least resistance that we don’t tend to stretch ourselves unless we have to.
We love the idea of achievement but we’re seldom on board with the reality of it, the many sacrifices required to accede to extraordinariness. Sure, we’d like the money but when there’s no guarantee we’ll even get it, why would we willingly put ourselves through all those turmoils?
Because any solution is better than none.
When we’re stuck, even the most unlikely of ways out is better than no exit. And because we humans are disruptors at heart, we always harbor the hope of parlaying desperate measures into success.
How would we find the mental wherewithal to keep going otherwise?
This is where personal narratives either need to go big or go home.
You need to show willing and spin desperation into hope and crippling pain into a luminous joy to save your life; you have to prostrate yourself in atonement at the altar of the internet for not having succeeded yet.
You always need to sacrifice a little more until you surrender to the humiliation of failure and then, perhaps, you can use that material to help someone feel better about themselves.
And yet, no human being is a tank; we know this but it doesn’t stick to the Teflon-coated American Dream.
Hard work makes everything possible so we keep pushing ourselves even when our efforts offer little to no returns while the most enterprising among us keep selling the dream a little harder every day, profiteering from growing collective disempowerment.
Because hope is the most valuable commodity there is.
At what point should we give up trying?
If we start out with nothing to lose, at what point do we realize we also have nothing to gain beside self-knowledge that points to imminent danger? When does confidence become delusion? When does stagnation become failure rather than discomfort we have to keep pushing through?
If we know that what keeps us going is also likely to destroy us, when do we step aside? And then how do we keep going at all?
To have had a hand in our own dehumanization and that of fellow humans is the greatest failure of all, one we achieved when we made the American Dream the template for how to live and exported it around the world.
Because it pays, many perpetuate the fallacy hard work is all it takes to succeed by promoting the self-made myth, thus erasing all those who hosted their dream for them.
Rest has now become the preserve of the privileged who never cease extolling its virtues while those of lesser means keep pawning their mental and physical health in exchange for the last shreds of human dignity hard work affords us.
Even when it keeps failing us.
Precariousness isn’t a matter of work ethics or motivation but the by-product of a culture that normalized exploitation when it turned human dignity into a dollar figure.
If it doesn’t kill us first, we can always hope persistence pays off.
We are scrappy, we will not lose.
I’m a French-American writer, journalist, and editor living out of a suitcase in transit between North America and Europe. To continue the conversation, follow the bird. For email and everything else, deets in bio.