Don’t Be a Sisyphus

Seriously, don’t do it. Sisyphus was apparently a big jerk so he got doomed to an eternity of pain and suffering.

Okay, okay, I’ll summarize Sisyphus, just in case y’all don’t remember your Greek mythology.

Sisyphus was a King in ye olde Anciente Greece. Known to be the craftiest of all, he had a habit of killing people, defying the Gods, and doing all in his power to avoid death through trickery. Eventually, though, the Gods were like, “Nuh uh,” and managed to drag him down to Tartarus after many shenanigans. Once there, Zeus enchanted a boulder so that Sisyphus would have to push it up a hill only to have it roll back down again… for all eternity. ‘Cause the Gods don’t be foolin’ around.

Sisyphus was the worst. Does he truly deserve an eternity of boulder pushing? I don’t know and it hardly matters since this is mythology we’re talking about here. Whether or not Sisyphus was an actual person, I have a hard time believing he’s still pushing a boulder in a non-existent Underworld.

However, there are loads of people who have their own metaphorical boulders that they’ve been pushing for years only to have them roll back down again. Unlike Sisyphus, they don’t understand that what they’re doing is completely pointless. They have a firm belief that they will eventually get to the top and that the boulder will someday remain there.

Allow me to crush your hopes and dreams. Your boulder? Ain’t never gonna get to the top of that hill.

The good news is that who gives a fuck? I mean, seriously. Let me give you an example of the no fucks given that should be employed in this situation.

Using my own life is always easiest, so let’s go with that.

Hello, my name is Christina, and I’m a writer. I’ve been trying to finish a novel for ages and yet have never managed to do so. My boulder always crushes me as it goes back down the hill. Very painful. I have to wait for my broken legs to mend before I can get back up to continue pushing.

My boulder? Writing a novel.

My legs? Actually my confidence in my own skill as a writer.

While I wait for the legs, I study up on boulder pushing. Or in this case, on how to write a novel.

The problem? Everybody has their own methods of boulder pushing. So I end up pushing my boulder using bits of methods from all of them. Every time I start pushing again, I change the method based on what I’ve read recently. Or sometimes I just start over and do it exactly the same way.

The result? No results. Broken legs.

Guess what, though? That boulder is really made of my insecurities. All these years, I thought I was pushing my novel up that hill. Wrong! My novel is the hill! And it’s completed manuscript is at the top! That boulder is just a wad of doubt and outside influence. That boulder is me clinging to the idea that a writer has to do things a certain way and has to be a certain person.

Upon discovering the boulder was useless, I was able to fling my fucks out the window. Unlike Sisyphus, I can leave the boulder at the bottom of the hill. I can just walk around it and climb up the hill boulder-free. And eventually get to the top, where I can hang out with a finished novel.

There is actually a second option, too. I could walk away from the hill entirely. I could decide that writing a novel is not something I care to do. I could say, what the hell why is this so tied to my own identity, I give up goodbye. I’m gonna go be a bus driver, which turns out to be my true calling.

Not really, but my point is that you could do that with your own hill if you so desired.

My recommendation? Don’t be a Sisyphus. Get rid of your boulder. Walk away, walk around, or hire a burly construction worker to jackhammer it out of existence.

More often than not, the boulder is not something you need to contend with. You don’t need to take that thing with you anywhere. Whether it’s your insecurities, as in my case, or someone else’s expectations saying you have to do this specific thing or maybe your perception of what the world wants you to be. You don’t need any of that. Look seriously at your hill. Is it something that you chose for yourself? Is that hill representing something that is a true part of you? If so, realize the boulder is just doubt trying to keep you back from being your full self and walk around it. If not, realize that this is not the hill for you and walk away.

It’s okay. It’s okay to choose your own path. You aren’t a jerk like Sisyphus, so there’s no need to torture yourself as though you were an angry Zeus.

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