Even with a will, there’s not always a way.

I’m so tired of all the platitudes people spout.  “Think positive,” “You attract what you put out,” “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and so on, ad nauseam.

It’s rarely that simple.  And if it is that simple for you, you need to recognize that you’re privileged in ways a lot of people aren’t.

I don’t lack will.  I have a clear picture of what I want from life, and I’m willing to work my ass off to get there.  I want to finish my undergrad degree, go to law school, and then I want to practice law, particularly dealing with the intersection between mental health law and civil liberties.  I’d like to do some policy work on mental health as well.  I have lots and lots of will.

But sometimes will just isn’t enough.

Will isn’t enough to cure my ulcerative colitis, to keep my immune system from attacking my body, to stop the bleeding ulcers and excruciating pain.

Will isn’t enough to fix my fatigue and weakness, to get rid of the cane I need most of the time, to stop my muscles from giving out when I stand for more than a few minutes.

Will isn’t enough to make public transit accessible to me in my area so that I can get places on my own and live more independently.  (Believe me, I have actually tried.  So has my city councilor.)

Will isn’t enough to raise me up out of poverty.  (See above notes on my physical issues–they make it impossible for me to do the jobs I could get without a college degree).  Will is not enough to make my government see me as someone valuable enough, despite my disability, to deserve to live above the poverty level or be able to meet my basic needs.

Will isn’t enough to find the money I need to pay for undergrad or law school, to be able to get loans when I don’t have a cosigner, to keep me from being crippled by debt I can’t afford when I do graduate.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way” blames people for being stuck in circumstances beyond their control.  The logical extension of the statement is that if you’re trapped in a less-than-ideal situation, it’s because you’re not trying hard enough, not caring enough.  Frankly, that’s bullshit.  Nobody wants to be stuck in a bad situation.  We get stuck there because we don’t have the resources to pull ourselves out, and bystanders who could help us choose to blame us or ignore us instead.

And I’m sick of it.



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20 responses to “Even with a will, there’s not always a way.

  1. Thank you for your honest, thoughtful and inspired tirade. You speak the truth that too often goes unsaid. Never let that fire in you burn out!

    • Oh, I don’t think anyone can put out the fire. They’ve sure as hell tried, but no one has ever succeeded in shutting me up, not long-term. I just have too many opinions.

  2. Gel

    i can feel your will and your strength in your words.
    I totally agree with what you are saying and you articulate it so well. Tho I do not have the same limitations that you do, I have a few of my own that get in the way of carrying out my will and what I feel inspired to do in life.


    • None of us have the same limitations, but I’m just so sick of privileged people saying, “Everybody should just do what they love! If you really want it, you’ll make it happen!” all the time and not understanding why that’s hurtful and offensive to those of us who don’t enjoy those same privileges. So I rant, because apparently that’s my greatest talent. 🙂

  3. sometimes venting your obvious frustration also helps put a voice to those who usually remain silent and invisible … sorry to hear that life (and poverty, illness, lack of resources) is getting to you these days … there are days that simply trying to survive for another twenty four hours is a victory

    I try (not always so successfully) to remember that as long as I have breath, there is a possibility that my path through life will change … it wouldn’t be the first time that life has surprised me, and surely won’t be the last

    • I’m not even trying to be a voice for anyone but myself. I’m still not even fully comfortable being a voice for myself. It’s easier here, where I’m anonymous, but in real life, I hide how bad everything is because I’ve internalized the stigma of being disabled and poor. Somebody on the phone today wouldn’t shut up about how she wouldn’t vote for my candidate because she’s not “kicking those lazy welfare queens off our paychecks.” I wanted to scream THAT’S ME YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT YOU HEARTLESS GODDAMN BITCH. But of course I didn’t; I just politely said I’d pass that on to the campaign and hung up as soon as I could.

  4. I know that today is a big day for you. Know that I am thinking of you, and please use that number I referred you to if it gets bad. (LA crisis center, they won’t call the cops! 877-727-4747)

    • Thanks…I might use it. But not till they call the election. We’re ahead right now, but only by a tenth of a percentage point. They’re already talking about recounts. (Ugh, god, please, no. That would ruin EVERYTHING.)

  5. I can understand where you’re coming from. I particularly hate “be positive”. It makes me feel like my emotions don’t matter. I’m allowed to feel what I need to feel to be able to get through what I’m going through.

  6. I agree with you. I label this stuff victim blaming and it runs rampant in our culture, unfortunately. A recent study of outcomes versus attitude in cancer patients undergoing treatment found that a positive attitude and happiness had no causal relationship to outcome. I am positive much of the time, but I am still poor and disabled, with little political cache and power. It is a fact of life that I deal with daily. I’m sorry that you are dealing with so much.

    Good and healing thoughts to you.


    • Do you have a link to that study? I’d love to beat people over the head with it cite it in civilized discussions.

      It’s helpful to hear that it feels like victim-blaming to you, too. (Obviously, I’m not glad you’ve experienced it.) A lot of the time, I think maybe I’m just being hypersensitive and overreacting to stuff, so it helps to know it gets under other people’s skin too.

      • I heard about it from someone going through cancer treatment who is not a positive person, they were heartened to hear the results. Of course this is only one study, and more research needs to be done. Several studies found, over time, that personality traits, a positive attitude, psychotherapy, quality of life (including mental health care and emotional support to increase quality of life), and none of them had an impact on survival.

        Here is a link to the American Cancer Society


        I’ve written about this victim blaming attitude in the past on my blog and it always gets under my skin and makes me raise my voice, especially when my brother tries that kind of crap on me. I am airy fairy happy and positive most of the time, but my attitude does not overcome and we are not required to be overcomers all the fucking time either.

        Good and healing thoughts to you.


  7. You make some really great points here Kyra. It is so true, there is not always a way, even with the strongest will power. I hope some day you get to do what you want to do because I know you would make such a difference. XX

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