Hope is a treacherous thing. I think I would know, considering my mantra for the past few years has been “Keep Moving Forward”, and my favourite word that I repeat to myself when all seems bleak is “hope”. It is something that I must never lose, something I must keep by me at all times, something I must never give up on.
But now I’m not so sure.
Yes, I know, I get it. When times are tough, it is good to have something to fall back on. It is good to remind yourself that this is not the worst thing to happen, and that all things will pass in its own time.
Have hope, I’d say to myself. Because that word encompasses the belief that there is still a future to look forward to.
But sometimes, there will be a need to give up “hope”. Sometimes, by blindly holding on to that hope, you end up hurting yourself instead. I think years before today I told myself that it was okay to give up on somebody. It doesn’t mean you don’t care about that person or your friendship with that person anymore, but that you’re just giving it time and space.
You’re taking the time and space you need to rejuvenate yourself, and you’re giving the other person time too. Luckily for me, my friend and I patched up in the end, after we’ve spent time away from each other. It may or may not work out in the end between the two of you, but at least you’re not in an emotional state the entire time.
Honestly, for me, giving up is very hard to do. I didn’t give up when I was rejected from my course way back when. I sent emails and I called, asking for just one interview, asking for a chance to show just how passionate I was — and still am — about writing. My lecturers back at Singapore Polytechnic saw how much I loved, lived and breathed my course, and I got in.
I’m a firm believer of going out to get what you want. William Edward Hickson said in the famous proverb, “If at first you don’t succeed; try, try, try again.” But recently I read what W. C. Fields had to add on the subject: “Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it.”
Hope is not blind faith. Faith, like a friend told me recently, isn’t blind either. It is a strong belief, a strong trust. But it is not blind. I don’t mean that you cannot hope for the things you cannot see, or that faith cannot come from not seeing something. I mean what Fields meant: you can have hope, but don’t be a fool.
Because to have hope doesn’t mean that you just rush into everything head on, your eyes blindfolded so you can’t see the wall in front of you, and to assume that you’re going to break through that wall just because you believe you will. Because if hope is like that, then it is reckless and stupid, and all you are going to get out of having that “hope” are broken bones, or worse, a broken soul.
The other night, I sat down to try to work on my advanced creative writing piece. I didn’t know what I was writing or where I was going, and frankly, I didn’t care about my non-existent characters. So I ended up writing about “maybes”. It drove me absolutely insane because I didn’t want to write about it. All those “maybes” just made me feel sad and pathetic.
Because somewhere inside me I still hoped. I hoped it would be different this time. This time, I’d know for sure. This time, I wouldn’t be left hanging. That hope made me a mess. I was anxious all the time, and my chest felt tight, like I couldn’t breathe. Have you ever felt like tears were welling up inside you but no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to cry?
That was how it felt for me.
In the end, I talked to a friend about it, and he made me promise to step away — give it the space it needs, at least for now. That was when I realised: my hope was crippling me, and it was time to give up. It was time to give it the time and space it needs.
It might be because that door leads nowhere, but more importantly, it was so that I get to be myself again. Not the girl that is hopelessly waiting on a hopeless situation, but the one who has hope for the future.
To Fridays is a weekly column that hopes to be able to give you all the encouragement and love in the world. #tofridaysvp