“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” — Nelson Mandela
I had every intention of starting this blog post a different way. In my usual snarky approach, I wanted to lament about how I’d spent the better part of my day treading in self-pity because a twenty-something writer I love just inked her second book deal. That was how this blog post was supposed to begin. Then right before 5 p.m. today, my coworker came by my cube and announced Nelson Mandela had died. And, the beginning of this blog post changed.
I shrieked. I took first to CNN and then to Twitter. I read a stream of tweets, many with quotes from Mandela. Quotes. Quotes are how writers think, feel and breathe. They do something to us. Soon enough I found myself fighting back tears, aware that today, like every other day on this Earth, the world lost a beautiful warrior.
Earlier today, I was in a meeting when someone said, “If we focus on what we haven’t done, we lose sight of what we need to do.” It struck a chord with me because as the year draws to a close, I’ve focused a bit too much on the fact that the draft of my manuscript isn’t done. Back in April when I started working on the book, I was sure the manuscript would be complete before the year was up. I’ve beat myself up a bit, a mental whipping that takes away from two things: 1) what I have accomplished this year and 2) the strides I need to take in order to actually finish the book.
But, the Mandela quote at the beginning of this post says it all: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.” I could say that for each and every thing I have already done with Twenties Unscripted. Back in 2012, I sat on a coaching call with Demetria Lucas early on a Saturday morning discussing strategies for my blog. I hadn’t even created Twenties Unscripted yet. She talked to me about making sure everything I did always led back to the blog. She said, “That means writing, social media, events…” I remember thinking “Events? No one would ever attend an event I hosted on behalf of my blog.” I’m now working on my third Twenties Unscripted event for next year. Yes, it does always seem impossible until it’s done.
It is very easy to hate on the work others are doing. But, it’s much harder to pull ourselves out of the jealousy doldrums and bust our asses. The energy we waste on trivial matters pales in comparison to the work we are meant to do in order to leave a mark on the world. Hard work is just that–hard. Taxing. Difficult. Exhausting. But, it is the only kind of work that ever shows results. Mediocrity only breeds a flat life until one day, you just flat line.
For me, writing is a labor of love. It is activism. It is what I was put on this Earth to do and I know that more than I know anything else about this life. So, I know the only energy I should devote to the work of others is in praise. Otherwise, I have to grind. I have to put my head down. I have to work. I have to hustle. I have to write. That is why I am here.
The world has experienced a collective heartbreak tonight with the passing of Nelson Mandela. But, my God, how fortunate were we to have him here to learn from his work, his spirit and his legacy.
Rest peacefully, Mandela.