Fighting Against “Only” and “Just”

I’ve been feeling rather downhearted lately.  Some of this is due to writerly things, and some of it is due to other challenges.  I have been asking myself—again—whether or not there’s a point to struggling and fighting to move forward when it never seems to make any difference.

As one of my relatives said to me, years ago, “I don’t know why you keep trying. You never get anywhere anyway.”

She was talking about my long journey to get my college degree, but those words have been front and center in my mind over the last couple of days.

To be clear, this down-ness is not just about writing, although it’s true that the quest to be a successful independent author has its own hurdles. No, this is about everything.  Sometimes success in any area of life seems elusive.

And then, sometimes you are given the gift of understanding that the reason for this elusiveness is the result of how you view yourself.  You see, clearly, that your perception of yourself is the biggest driving factor behind everything, the most important influence.  You see that you are creating your reality because of who you think you are, and what you think you are worth–or not worth.

Understanding the struggle to change that mindset and the odds it will actually happen sometimes makes me wonder whether it’s worth the effort.

And yet, what else is there to do besides continuing to fight and move?  If we stop fighting for survival—the survival of our selves—what else is there?  Living the rest of our lives in a box we constructed?  Letting ourselves get pushed into that box with the top nailed shut to lock us in?  Agreeing with our own false thoughts and the circumstances they create?

What choice is there but to keep going?  If you stop, you get pulled into the quicksand. Then you’ll never get out.

As I’ve been thinking about all of this, I’ve realized that two of the biggest enemies in my life are the words “only” and “just”.  Now you know that I’m a word person.  I believe words are incredibly powerful – they can lift you up, but they can also push you down and keep you there.  For me, “only” and “just” are two words that fit into the latter category.

For example –

It’s only once.  (except it’s not—soon it’s a habit)

It’s only one minute. (except that one minute slides away into hours)

It’s only five dollars. (except that five dollars can lead to massive debt)

It’s only for today.  (except “today” turns into weeks)

It’s just for now. (except “now” never becomes “then”)

It’s just me. (except I am important, too)

I’m just afraid. (except sometimes the fear isn’t even mine)

Or, when talking specifically about my writing “it’s only a romance novel” or “it’s just what I do”.

Except writing what I love to write is an accomplishment I should be happy about rather than trying to diminish, even to myself.

Maybe especially to myself.  Because, honestly, as much as I want all of you to like me, the most important part of this whole thing is how I perceive myself.  That is what drives everything else.  That’s where the true struggle lies for all of us.

No matter how I want to change myself or my business, no matter where I want to take things in the future, no matter what I hope to accomplish, I won’t be successful unless I fight for it.  I have to fight against “only” and “just”.  Those two factors are stealing my life—all of our lives—one drip at a time.  Then one day you look up, realize what’s happening, and fight to plug the leak.

So, why do I keep trying even though I never get anywhere anyway?

Well, I did get my college degree, as a matter of fact.  It just took a little longer than it does for most people and happened on my own terms. Sometimes the journey doesn’t take place in a traditional manner and you just don’t fit in with everyone else.  Sometimes other people look at you and don’t understand where you’re going.  Sometimes even you don’t even understand where you’re going until you’re there. Sometimes you have to look back to see the road.

I’ve been fighting my whole life to be myself, regardless of the obstacles.  I hope all of you have, too.  Let us not stop, but let’s all refuse to “go gently into that good night.”  Let’s all rise up against “only” and “just”.




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