Last weekend, I went to watch a movie with some friends at a theatre. It was part of our cheat day plan, in order to break the cycle of daily workouts and healthy diets. To set the score straight, I find it important to have an off-day in terms of eating as well as working out. This would allow you to calm down and actually insert a breather into your everyday routine. The movie was about one of the biggest operations of misinformation which took place during the Second World War. The movie is called Operation Mincemeat, and introduces the plot by stating that there are two types of wars: one that is well-known to the public and receives all the glory, whereas the second one acts like the engine behind everything that we see today. The latter remains unspoken in the history books, and only known to those who have witnessed it. Personally, I would say that this equilibrium between two opposites would apply in almost every scenario in life.
I sense that there are two sides to every story. The side that everybody knows and shares on a regular basis with the world, building one’s reputation to the point that it precedes them. The second perspective is quite particular and does not get the same attention – whether it is in terms of quantity or quality. The former angle we give to a story is the motivation, the success, the fame, the fortune, the money and power every human being craves every night before going to sleep. It is the image of the heroes we have grown to read about in fairytales or to watch them perform at the highest level. The end result is so appealing that it blinds us from the bigger picture and the entire process leading to what we observe today.
“I do not think I have nerves of steel, far from it. But I can certainly stand up to things. I am not afraid to look suffering straight in the eyes.”
– Etty Hillesum
The other side of a well-known story is one we tend to ignore because of the weight and impact it may have on us. Sure, it is nice to witness someone like Samantha Kerr dominate women’s football in England today, as much as we enjoy studying people like John Nash in economics classes. However, one question remains: how much do we really know about them? Did they really just happen to be so good at what they do that getting to the level of fame and recognition they are at now was an easy path? Far from it. Although we have heard this from our parents and surroundings infinite times over the years that nothing comes easy, we always think that those who have made it to the top were privileged and have had an easy life in order to get there.
As I am writing this article, I am listening to a slowed down version of Sia’s song Unstoppable, a song that has strongly inspired and contributed to this essay. It is a song we listen to in order to motivate ourselves and pump up some adrenaline, especially thanks to the chorus that emphasises the singer’s strength, willingness to keep pushing forward and not let any limit hinder her progress. However, take a moment to listen to the two verses in that song. Verses talking about the mental struggles we face everyday when faced with other people, human beings who do not fully know us nor do they understand us. We struggle to find support in most of them, and that is how we know that we can only rely on ourselves most of the time. In Lebanon, there is a saying my father used to share with me and that translates as follows:
“On the rise, the lovers and fans became many. And on the drop, they all ran away.”
(عالطلعة كثروا الأحباب. وعالنزلة كلن هربوا)
Sia’s song takes the same approach by talking about how difficult it is for us to prove ourselves when we are challenged to stand on our own and face our demons alone because our battles are ours to deal with. It is true that we walk next to other people who help us believe in ourselves and help us move forward, yet whether we like it or not, most of our walk is that of the lone wolf.
We face battles every day. We break. We fall down. We shed tears behind smiles. We bleed and suffer through it all. We look around and often find ourselves helpless. If you are battling something or going through pain, remember that nobody made it without having their own share of hardships. This is how we get better.
You are on the right path.
Enjoy the small victories as much as the big ones.
Just the fact of getting out of bed in the morning is a massive win when it comes to overcoming depression and doubt.
You can do it. I believe in you.