The last few weeks of performing Mamma Mia, I was in agony. Yes, I was sad the show was closing. Yes, I was going to miss my castmates. Yes, I was nervous about being out of a job. None of these were the cause of my distress however. My true torment had to do with a back injury that I suffered at the beginning of the year. During the final two months of the show, the injury grew severe to the point that I probably should not have been performing at all. I am not being dramatic when I say that I could barely walk, much less dance. However, for my own reasons (mainly my stupid pride) I stuck with it.
I remember looking at the calendar and counting how many shows were left. “There’s no way my body can endure this much pain for 48 more shows,” I would say to myself.
“You’re right,” I would respond, (I often talk to myself like this) “but you can do one show, and that’s all you need to worry about tonight. You can always do one show, no matter how much it hurts.” This was the mantra I repeated to myself night after night until my calendar showed zero shows left, and I could get the rest I needed.
Perhaps it’s not your back that’s hurting, perhaps it’s a sickness or other type of ailment. Maybe your pain isn’t even physical. Perhaps your greatest agony comes from a broken relationship, lost job, or an impossible course load at school. And perhaps you find yourself thinking...
“There’s no way I can make it to the end of the semester.”
“I can’t keep running into her. It’s too painful, I can’t handle it.”
“How am I supposed to live with this pain for the rest of my life?”
We’ve all thought this at some point, and my reminder to you today is that you don’t. You don’t have to endure it for the rest of your life. Or, at least you don’t have to think about it that way.
All you have to do is finish this one paper, make it through this one conversation, go on one interview, endure one surgery. There may be many more to come, but you don’t have to focus on those right now. You can choose to focus on doing just one more show. You can do anything once, no matter how painful it is.
A word of caution: this may not work for everyone. I’m not saying this is the right mindset with which to endure painful trials. This is just one mindset. If it’s not for you, put it away for now. However, my guess is that if the pain when the pain gets bad enough, you may get desperate. In that moment, maybe give it another shot. The best technique for overcoming pain and suffering at the keep trying and never give up.