I’ve been thinking about the word perseverance, how it is just a better word when used in the past tense e.g. I persevered and eventually won. It is a word which implies virtue and when used to describe someone it gives the impression of a sturdy person of character. It is a word better used in the past tense because it implies the work that was required to be put into the activity as one persevered, is done, finished and there was a happy outcome. The romantic story of how a guy persevered for years until the girl eventually realized he indeed was what she needed or wanted all along, sounds very romantic, but only when told in past tense by a couple now happily married. In present tense, imagine your brother being hung up over the same girl for five years. I would honestly be done with that conversation and would instead tell him how he needs to move on, how she isn’t worth it, how she isn’t that great anyway, etc etc. But told in the past tense, it’s a very appealing story which leaves us convinced of the love this man will have for his wife.
The present tense use of the word, is a painful one. It is a verb, which means it is a doing word, and the act of peservering is not a pleasant one. I know, because I am in a current season of having to persevere, and have never had to dig as deep into all my inner being to find the will to keep going as I have had to do in the past two years. What amuses me the most is that I did this to myself. For the longest time I have wanted to do a masters degree in anaesthetics. I love anaesthetics, I absolutely love what I do and I took an unconventional route of getting to where I currently am. However, now that I am here, actually doing everyday that which I love, I don’t know anymore hey.
I studied my diploma in anaesthetics in Zim in Bulawayo at a time when it was not popular for people to do it that way. If I had a penny for each time someone had told me I was wasting my time and energy, and would have been far in life had I already joined the program at UZ, honestly I would have quite a few dollars to my name. Yet regardless of a lot of people around me, including my own parents by the way, not seeing the vision I had for myself, I persevered. I had a thriving social life, and because I am a social being, who is fine as long as my social life is thriving, it was not hard for me to find the energy to keep going. Also, I knew that those who were advising me otherwise meant well, so somehow it didn’t really bother me that folks were encouraging me to take a different route to the one I had chosen for myself. It was a risky plan too, but to me, it was simple, move to England, then move to South Africa, then back to Zimbabwe, then retire. Seemed like a good plan to me.
However, life didn’t quite turn out the way I had planned it, so I ended up moving to South Africa first, and was not quite as mentally prepared for the position I found myself in. There is nothing quite like registrar life, which is the fancy word used in medicine to describe a doctor undertaking a masters degree. I won’t Lie, it sucks! It’s stressful. The workload is ridiculous. There is a whole lot more of studying that needs to be done, but no time to do it. You are a grown up, with other grown up responsibilities, but you are expected to work crazy hours, and still somehow find time to study and make presentations and conduct a research, and it’s a lot! I don’t think anything could really help prepare your mind for the journey, and it’s only in walking this journey I have come to understood, and admittedly hate, the verb persevere.
Perseverance is defined as the ability to continually do something, despite difficulty or delay in success. And therein lies the problem. In the definition. Ability to continually do something despite delay or difficulty in success. With everything else i have undertaken in my life, with every other path I have chosen, success may have not been immediate but it was somewhat guarenteed. I would see and note daily progress in the tasks I undertook, and that gave me the ability to keep going, and I defined it as perseverance. But, what I am faced with currently, is a whole new ball game altogether.
I like how this preacher man once put it across. He said, the only way to learn endurance when running a marathon, is to run a marathon. You can listen to a thousand audios on how to breathe, how to pace yourself, how to keep going, but unless you actually run the marathon, it will all not really teach you endurance. So, likewise, unfortunately, I have learnt, I can only learn perseverance by being in situations that will force me to keep going.
Only way to learn a certain character trait, is by being moulded, placed in situations that will force you to become what you desire to become. I love to teach, and all my interns will definitely have one thing in common to say about me, that I am a great teacher. However, my Zim interns would be very shocked to hear their SA counterparts describe me as the one of the most patient registars. Lol. I was very impatient before, and that’s because to me, concepts were easy to grasp and so if someone was unable to grasp them even after repeatedly saying it to them, then it must mean they are acting up on purpose. Haha, I must acknowledge God for his beautiful sense of humour, because now, not only do I find it difficult to grasp concepts sometimes, but I have had my seniors sigh and give me that look that says we have talked about this before but…
So folks, unfortunately, the only way to learn certain things, certain virtuous character traits, is to go through the refining fire that form and shape them. The only way to learn perseverance and patience, is to be in a situation that demands that of you. Great way to learn humility, is to sometimes go through stages, where you are at the bottom of the food chain, and absorb the different ways people treat you, and decide for yourself the manner in which you shall treat others when you have the power and authority to be in charge.
I have been the sister I spoke of in the first paragraph, who has out of love, discouraged a one sided relationship, whereby my friend would clearly be head over heels in love with someone not reciprocating the feelings, for years; and I have been pleasantly embarrassed to receive the phone call announcing that somehow, she suddenly woke up, having changed her mind. Perseverance.
So folks, what do want in life? If you really want it, take steps and get that ability to keep going at it despite difficulty in seeing success. In Shona, we have a proverb which goes, sango rinopa waneta, which basically is meant to say, keep going. Persevere! You will obtain that which you desire, and with it, more, because your character would have been moulded, refined into near perfection.