It’s worth it.
I was in London when I got the news.
“You’re American, right?” the receptionist asked me. “Have you heard the results?”
I’d seen the predictions earlier in the day. I knew it wasn’t looking good. I’d gone to the gym — without my phone — to sweat out some anxiety, and to give my spirit a temporary break from the news coverage, the polls, the tabulations, the fear and the dread. But I couldn’t run from this particular announcement any longer. I braced myself.
“Trump won,” she told me.
I don’t remember what she said next, because my brain dissolved into a fog of disappointment. I stepped outside, walked a few blocks, and felt my heart cave inward. Descending underground into the tube station, I started to cry. All I could think was, “How?!”
I texted my mom, because what else can you do when the world is falling apart?
“Today we cry,” she told me. “Tomorrow we get back to work.”
A few days have passed. I’m back home in Oregon. I’ve been reading, thinking, writing, and considering my mom’s wise words. Other words, too, like this statement from Hillary Clinton, which she delivered in her concession speech:
“I have spent my entire adult life fighting for what I believe in. I’ve had successes and I’ve had setbacks. Sometimes, really painful ones. […] You will have successes and setbacks too. This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”
If there’s a “lesson” to be drawn from all of this disappointment, that’s it:
Trying is worth it. Marching forward with your dreams, goals, and aspirations, even if you don’t win every battle, is worth it. And so, we must dry our tears, mend our broken hearts, and keep marching. Because there’s no other option. And… because the quest is worth it.
– Broken leg. You train, you wait, and one day, you run again.
– No response from your publisher. You regroup and pitch your book to someone else.
– A client ignores your proposition. You dust off your shoulders and try a new approach.
– A man who boasts about grabbing women’s genitals without permission secures the highest office. You sob. Then you stand up and you write, speak, share, teach, strive, donate, and allow your voice to be heard.
We all face setbacks. It’s easy to feel brave and optimistic when everything’s going perfectly. The challenge is to keep the faith, and keep working, when things are not.
If you have a dream — and if you really believe in that dream — then you don’t quit at the first sign of criticism, rejection, discouragement or disappointment. You keep fighting.
Another day. Another try. Another step forward.
It’s worth it.
PPS. We lost an incredible artist this week. Rest in peace, Leonard Cohen. Here’s k.d. lang covering his classic song, “Hallelujah.” Every time I listen, it’s like medicine for my soul.