You Can Only Give Your All

You Can Only Give Your All

Sometimes your best isn't good enough, so what do you do next?


I'm sure all of our parents have told us, "Just do your best," at one point or another, and for a while, we believed that was good enough. Especially when we got participation awards and gold stars for doing what was expected of us anyway. But now that we're older, at least I hope you've realized by now; sometimes your best isn't good enough and there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. Sometimes, no amount of hard work will get you the win. So, what then? Well let's start with the before: do the thing, get through the excruciating waiting period, and then we can move through the after.

Before is the part where you actually do your best and give your all. Let's say you have a big audition (interview, performance, sporting event, speech, test, etc.) coming up and you're terrified. What should you do? Well, obviously, you should work as hard as you can (to a healthy extent)—do the homework, study, practice, prepare, do some psychological visualization, do whatever it is you know you need to do to give yourself the best chance of success.

After you've prepared yourself as much as you can, do the actual thing. Don't worry about feeling ready because a wise man once said "If we wait until we're ready, we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives." You've done the work. You're as prepared as you can possibly be, so just do it because there's nothing more you can do. You cannot do any better than your best. You cannot give any more than your all.

This concept tends to wrack our brains during the agonizing period when we're waiting to find out if we got the part, scored the job, won the competition, made the grade, etc. The truly beautiful thing about it is, while it is stressful to not know if your best was enough, there's nothing you can do about it. Yes, it's terrifying when a part of your life is out of your control, but that's also very calming (at least to me) because while there is nothing you can do to fix the situation. There's also nothing else you can do to mess it up because it's already done. The ball is out of your court and you're waiting to see if it will get thrown back or not; your work is done.

But the after is either the best or worst part of this whole experience. If the outcome is favorable, then your job is pretty much done—you did the hard work and your hard work paid off—go you! Just make sure you don't get cocky. However, if the outcome is unfavorable; then you have to deal with an unbearable amount of self-doubt that is certainly trying to crush you and all your dreams. But, you know what? Just because your best wasn't good enough for this, doesn't mean your best isn't good enough for something else. Just because you fail at one thing, that doesn't mean you will fail at everything. In fact, it doesn't even mean you're bad at the thing you "failed" at—maybe someone else was better or more suited. Don't let that thought get you into the trap of comparing yourself to others, but let it give you perspective about life.

If all humans walked around doing their best all the time, there's no way everyone would succeed all the time, but that doesn't mean that you don't deserve to succeed (or that you deserve to fail). Sometimes we get what we deserve, sometimes we don't. Sometimes it isn't even a matter of deserving at all, but rather a matter of luck. Whether you believe in luck, fate, God's plan, karma, or anything else, believe this: you will not always get what you want, you will not always get what you deserve, but you will always get what you get, and there's no point in throwing a fit because life isn't fair and sometimes your best isn't good enough.

I know that last sentence sounded like I'm pounding you into the dirt, but I'm not trying to sound mean. I'm just trying to give you a realistic (and slightly optimistic) view on reality. I promise I say all this out of love and personal growth that stemmed from experience. Do your best, leave it all on the court, then wait for the response. That way you never have to wonder if you could've done better, you never have to wonder if it was your fault, because you gave everything you have and that's all you can give.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.

Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.

Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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I Stopped Maintaining My Hair Because I Could Barely Maintain My Life

Mental health and natural hair matter.


When I big chopped my hair in May of 2018, I thought that I would become what would be comparable to a chia pet. I aspired for my damaged, kinky 4C type hair to depart from me to make way for manageable coiled locks that would grow fuller and healthier at a faster rate. That day in the salon was one I will never forget. Looking in the mirror at my new tapered cut made me feel genuinely beautiful. I could see me and not the hair that I tried to hide my identity with. With the knowledge of new hair products and routines, I felt confidence in beginning my hair growth journey.

The first few months after, I noticed that my hair was thicker and had become more manageable. My new routines were paying off. Diligently applying oils and masks had helped me see results. Having shorter hair was a different but liberating experience. It was going all smooth until I got to the awkward phase. I spent hours watching YouTube videos to attempt various styles but the influencer's hair was either too long or short and never awkwardly in between as my hair was.

Later on in the year, my journey came to a halt. I was in between jobs, could barely afford to pay rent and would skip class to go to work because I needed to pay bills and rent. I was a mess and so was my hair. I stopped doing weekly conditioning routines and would let my hair matt up and not detangle properly because I was often in a rush. My anxiety caused me to twist pieces of my hair at high points of stress. I would wear wigs and attempt protective styles to prevent this but still neglected to treat the hair that was underneath. I stopped maintaining my hair because I could barely maintain myself in this hectic period of my life.

Seeing the film Nappily Ever After made me resonate with the fact that this is a common occurrence in the natural hair community. Saana Lathan portrayed a woman, Violet who used her hair as her sole identity. She displayed how she hid the damage to her natural hair to live a life for others and not herself. It wasn't until she cut her dry, damaged hair that she had she had truly blossomed into the graceful women she truly is.

Natural hair and mental health go hand in hand. Growth can be inhibited by mental health and that goes for many aspects; hair is just one of them. If one takes care of their mental health, they feel more inclined to nourish their roots as well. This is why self-care matters in the black community.

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