It’s called a job.
You suck it up and do it, no matter how much you hate it, because you need the money, and not everyone is lucky enough to do what they love. But you love yourself, so you do your best anyway, because it puts the food on the table and it pays for rent and if you’re gonna have to do something, you might as well do your best.
So despite the nausea that builds in your stomach, you smile to people; compromising your morals the way you said you never would. You smile and you laugh and you joke with old men who make your skin crawl, with boys who treat you as nothing more than the dirt on their shoes, and people beneath you who will never understand the sacrifices you made, the things you gave up, the person you could be.
So you suck it up because it is what it is, and you build a new world around it, with things you can control: a boyfriend, a dog, friends – a new family – because you think this is something that will give you warmth, because anything beats going home to an empty apartment after doing some dead-end job; you think your boyfriend will be there to hear you vent, to grow with you and support you; you think your dog will release some much needed stress as you play with her, walk her and love her; you think your friendships will never end, but then, you give of yourself – the limited time that you have – and you realize that these are all more lies of emptiness that builds, and there’s no one to save you, no one who will listen, because everyone’s just so embroiled within themselves.
The boyfriend who’s supposed to listen and love you is a disappointment; self-absorbed and too full of pretty lies you heard from the previous him. You’ve hurt too much, and you know better now.
The puppy you adopted is too much of a handful, a burden on top of an already long day.
The friends you have, that new “family”? They’re non-existent. Caught up in their own lives, out at their own parties; no one’s willing to listen the way they did back home, back when you were in college, back when you were still young and fun and beautiful.
And you miss that girl because she’s everything that you’re not now; that smiling, laughing face you see in photos is no longer the same person you were, and you see your light fading because life has failed you, love has broken you and all you want now, all you can hope for is that the end is near; but this isn’t you, because you’re the type of person who has to persevere until all options are exhausted, so you crawl back into bed, and you try again, despite knowing that doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results is stupid, you do it anyways, because you know your flaws, and you know your weakness, and you know that this is who you are, this is what you have to do to become the better person, that ever elusive better person you keep trying to be, so despite your breaking heart, despite your depleted energy, despite the things you wish were different, you continue because you understand that sometimes, you don’t have to put a wounded animal down; sometimes, you just have to remove the thorn.
So you smile at people you detest with every inch of your being, you laugh with men who make your skin crawl, you climb into a warm bed with a cold personality, you walk the dog that misbehaves, you talk to the absentee friends and realize that you, yourself, are an absent friend and life continues the best it can; with a job that pays the rent, with a boyfriend, a dog, and friends who take pretty photos with you, and you pretend to be that girl you used to be, and you hope nobody sees through you with the secret hope that they do.