Don’t Give Up

The year was 2010 and I was in my room reading, sitting behind my PC, or doing whatever roomy things I used to do at the time. A song started to play on the TV in the sitting room that dragged me out of my solitude. I jumped, grabbed my Nokia 2700 phone and recorded a very shaky video of what was left of the song. I stalked the TV for rest of the week, hoping it would be replayed on Mnet like I knew they often did with their songs. And they did replay it. This time, I was prepared. I noted the title of the song; it was Don’t Give Up.

Unlike most songs that I listen to on repeat for a while that wear away like a cherished but over-worn shirt, bound to be discarded for new love, Don’t Give Up has stayed with me from that evening in 2010. I don’t listen to it regularly anymore, but there are moments when I search it out on my PC and play it again on repeat for a whole day. I’m doing that now.

I don’t play this song because I want to give up on life; I have too much joie de vivre for that. But these days, I feel like I’m in way over my head, like I’m in places I have no right to be. Which is funny because I’m really nowhere yet. Then I remember friends who have not stopped reminding me of how much they believe in me, of how much more I am.

Sometimes it appears like I intentionally downplay my abilities, like I’m practicing humbility like some would say. Truth is, I really don’t believe I’m all that. But I’ve been told I’m arrogant too many times to be sure there’s some truth to it. I’ve also been told I have terrible self-confidence, and that contradiction annoys me. I once obsessed over it to the point of having a headache.

For someone who keeps such a calm façade, I’m usually a thought or two away from total meltdown. And often, remembering the many times I’ve been told that none of all that matters is what keeps me going. That I am arrogant or possess low self-confidence is not the most important thing; those are just perceptions. What matters is that I am. I have been blessed with people who care about that, who are not quick to post labels or pass judgments.

A passage in the Bible says “Behold I will be with you always,” and it has stayed in the corridors of my mind for a long time now. What does he mean by “always.” What are the limits of always?

As I write these words, Don’t Give Up is still on repeat, and Pink is now singing “Rest your head; you worry too much; it’s going to be alright.” The song is originally a Peter Gabriel song about an unemployed man in despair who is being reassured by his own that they’ll always be there for him. But what happens when those who say you can fall back on them stop being there?

Perhaps it’s the thought above that makes me a terrible friend to a lot of people. I can go on for days holding people to heart without attempting to contact them. I really don’t forget people, at least not in the long term. (My short term memory is as shitty as it can be.) I still recall the names of my friends from my first primary school, a place I left as a 6 year old. I remember in vivid detail some of the moments I had in the school. But I’ve never tried to search those friends out. What if they are no more?

Last week I was in a bus and two men were discussing their aspirations in their photography careers. That moment, I remembered someone I served with in Anambra who had dreams of buying a camera after service. I wondered for a moment what had become of that dream. I tried to picture him in this bus with someone else, discussing his career too. But I did not feel the need to contact him.

It is sinister to expect anyone to make a promise they can’t keep.

I’ve been lucky in friendships. I’ve had people who stuck with me in my flaky moments. I really can’t say how much I mean to them. I don’t intend to gauge that. They don’t have to make an extra promise that they’ll always be there. That they’ve been there at a point in my life is enough. It is sinister to expect anyone to make a promise they can’t keep.

Many thoughts run through my head as I listen to the song again and again, some too incoherent to put in this already-rambling post.

I don’t intend to make you go on a spiralling introspection like I just did. I only want to tell you not to give up too. There’s a place where you belong; don’t quit until you find it. There’s a people who will promise to always have your back, even when they’re incapable of fulfilling it; don’t quit until you find them. Don’t quit until you find Him.

Postscript: In the video above, Pink says, “I’m useless when I’m happy. So, pain is my motivator, frustration, anger, loneliness.” I don’t know what to make of this yet. If anyone has thoughts on it, please share in the comments. Thank you.


15 Replies to “Don’t Give Up”

  1. I guess comfort, and being in a happy place, sometimes lulls us into complacency.. and we lose the drive to keep changing to stay relevant which is where pain and discomfort by forcing us to look for solutions motivate us…

    1. “…comfort, and being in a happy place, sometimes lulls us into complacency.” True. But I sometimes think we’re locked in a vicious cycle: the pain and discomfort force us to look for solutions to motivate us and make us happy, yet, in being too happy we become complacent and have to thirst again for discomfort that will in turn motivate us to look for more solutions. *shrug* I really don’t know.

      Thanks for this comment, and for reading through.

  2. “It is sinister to
    expect anyone to make
    a promise they can’t
    keep.” Still trying to get a good grasp of what sinister really means but if its what I think;I agree with the thought.
    Good piece! would love to get the song.

    1. Good to see you here again Dunsin. I think the closest replacement for sinister in that sentence is ‘Wicked.’

      About the song, just grab the hem of my garment any time you see me, and I’d totally hook you up.

  3. “But these days, I feel like …. like I’m in places I have no right to be. Which is funny because I’m really nowhere yet.”
    I understand this. I won’t give up though! 🙂

    1. I’m sure you do understand it Timi. I’m sure you do. Now, are you going to help me with this problem of pain being a motivator, as opposed to happiness?

  4. The limit of ‘always’ is hard to find. this is because at those times when he seems far away, He just pop out and everything makes perfect sense….

    Also, pains et al, even though at the moment is not palatable, helps us to take a deep reflection which often leads to self discovery…

    Thanks for this piece…. I will rise up with fresh vigor… I won’t give up….

    1. “…at those times when he seems far away, He just pops out and everything makes perfect sense.” True. Very true.

      I’m glad the piece was of value to you.

  5. Ah, I love this song. It’s been a while since I listened to it, so thanks for sharing.

    “I can go on for days holding people to heart without attempting to contact them” – this is the story of my life. I run out of ways to say “how are you?” and “how is school?” but I’m working at getting better.

    About Pink’s quote on ‘pain the motivator’: It is a scary truth for many an artist. I think I write my best stuff in moments of melancholy. I am fairly certain that there’s some scientific paper out there, correlating great art with melancholy or perhaps someone is researching the hypothesis. I recently had this conversation with a friend, and we concluded that pain is much more relatable than Joy. I also think that one can be creative in a happy state, it all depends on what is being created. I don’t imagine upbeat songs and jolly-nursery rhymes are written in melancholia.

    Your inner conflict is often a sign that you have something that you terribly want/need to unleash or inspire to. It’s a cliche, and I forget it sometimes but we have to ‘keep giving our best and leaving the rest’

    I enjoyed this Post Ife. Thank you

    1. I think there is indeed a correlation between art and melancholia; it is the decision to constantly desire it for the sake of art that baffles me. It seems to be agreed upon that it’s more difficult to create in moments of joy, but it is not impossible. Why then don’t we strive towards this? I don’t know jare.

      It seems there’s no escaping cliches. 🙂


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