A struggling student looks at the empty fridge and turns to the unpaid bills on the table. His weekend job does not even cover half the bills. He is hoping his parents can afford to send him some money this month. He wants to do more paid work, but the demands of the course won’t let him. He is determined to complete the course, so his labour so far will not be in vain. It has been four years and some who started with him have already graduated. He has taken time off twice for lack of tuition fees, but he is glad to still be in university. Other options fill him with dread, as he cannot see himself working as anything but an engineer. His uncle suggests dropping out, his mother suggests hanging on. His friends feel sorry for him, his heart is on fire and he sometimes asks himself, ‘When will it end?’
A young wife looks around her beautiful home, awaiting the return of her handsome husband. She thinks of what a wonderful husband he has been for the past five years – holding her hand through fertility treatments, miscarriages and depression. All she wants is a baby to love. She fills her time with a job she neither loves nor hates. Her husband reassures her that his love for her has nothing to do with having children. Her friends suggest adoption, her doctor suggests IVF. She had always seen herself as a mother at this age, but she never imagined it would be this hard. She hears young mothers complaining about how hard it is looking after their children. She imagines it could never be as hard as wanting children, and having none. It takes so much self-control not to cry when she sees children at work. The pain is sometimes unbearable. She often asks herself, ‘When will it end?’
A man in a suit sitting on his own, in a cafe with a cold cup of coffee. He is too deep in thought to care. In his briefcase he has the business plan and prototype for his latest invention. He believes so much in its potential to change the world, if only it got in the right hands with the right connections. He is struggling to find capital to invest, and not many people would put their money where their mouth is. If he had a penny for every one that said it was a great idea, he would not be worrying about next month’s bills right now. He has had a few business triumphs, but not enough to produce the kind of income he believes this can bring. His friends are suggesting going back to paid employment, his wife is suggesting a business loan to get things moving. So many decisions to make, so many disappointments to consider. So many lives affected, so many years already put in. He did not come this far to give up now, but he doesn’t know if he will have the strength to handle another bad day in business. He asks himself, ‘When will it end?’.
A time for planting and a time for harvesting. If only we always know when exactly each will be. It would be a shame to have given up a day before your dreams came true. It would be a waste to have tried one less time than the number of times it takes to win. There is no real overnight success. Most people toil unseen for years, before we finally hear the big success stories. It is true that wisdom is knowing when to quit, but how do you quit when the desire for success remains strong within you? Doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result is madness. As long as we are constantly reviewing and thinking of ways to improve our chances of success, making the most of our opportunities and taking steps in the right direction, we can be excused for having a few down days and getting back on track. It is even tougher to stay on track when we are surrounded by other voices asking us, ‘When will it end?’.
If I knew when it would end, I would probably have started a day before! Since I don’t know when exactly all my hard work will produce the expected harvest, I will keep going and try to have a good attitude. Ignore the jokers, have faith, take good advice and review things regularly. As long as you have the passion and drive for success, it will end when it is done.
Afiniki Akanet is the author of Life Without Coffee (Choosing Happiness Over Stress) and founder of Forte Charity for Inspiration. Afiniki.co.uk