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There is a poem that I have loved since I first read it as a child. It was written by Rudyard Kipling, and it goes like this:

IF

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
 
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Now, this poem has a hell of a lot of things in it to live up to, and trying to be that person could lead to a major feeling of inadequacy, but I’ve always had it in the back of my mind as an ideal to strive for, even though I know I can never be expected to make it.
One of the lines parts that I’ve never really expected myself to embody was:

“If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!'”

I mean, I hoped that if the time ever came that I was in such a dire situation I would be able to face it with that level of strength, but I didn’t realistically expect myself to ever end up in a situation like that. I don’t know why the thought suddenly occured to me one morning recently, or why it had never occured to me before, but I suddenly realised that of all the challenges in the poem that was actually the one that I’d lived up to the most, and I’d never even noticed myself doing it!

See, I have gotten into such a dire situation. I have (often) reached the stage of depression where I honestly feel like there’s nothing left in me, and there’s no way I could possibly pull through. I’ve tried again and again to figure out why I get through these dark periods (especially when I know there are people out there who are no weaker than me who don’t) and I’ve never been able to work it out. I guess at the end of the day it all comes down to that bit of will which says ‘Hold on!’.

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