*edited to addPosted: March 8, 2010
I’ve been doing mediocre (at best) with my revised New Year’s resolutions. There’s only four of them and still I’m floundering. Despite my serious lack of volition, I want to make a change to resolution number four. Instead of doing one thing each week to move me toward making some decisions about my future, I want to do at LEAST one thing each week that scares me. After having a conversation with my dad this weekend, I’ve been thinking that I may never really know what I want to do with my life. By that I mean, there may never be a moment of clarity where I say “yes! I do want to go to law school,” or “of course, I’ll become a personal chef.” For me, this realization is equally terrifying and liberating. Its terrifying because I want to know what I’m going to do with my life and I want to know NOW. Even more, I’m afraid of messing up, wasting time, missing my opportunity (as if there’s only one). In short, I’m afraid of failing. I think I equate indecision, unpreparedness, fear, and mediocrity with failure. My thoughts run something like this:
Indecision: “I don’t know what I want to do, I don’t know what I like, I don’t know what I’m qualified to do…”
Unpreparedness: “Everyone around me knows what they want or at least what they’re good at. They’re working or studying in their area of interest. Everyone has a leg up on me. They know how the world works. They know how to get a job (even a career!)….I don’t have a clue…”
Fear: “I’m behind. People, especially professors and employers, will see right through me. I don’t have the experience or know how to do much of anything.”
Mediocrity: “Be rational! Your life will be fine. You’ll just always be fearful and anxious. Also, you’ll probably always feel inferior. But thats okay, you’ll find some sort of a job. It will give you a little bit of financial and personal comfort. Life will go on.”
So when that whole mess is done running through my mind I feel pretty much like a failure. But here’s what I’m realizing a little more each day. I’m only a failure if I decide to believe the self-effacing tape running through my head. I’m only a failure if I let that tape determine my actions, and if I let anxiety and fear determine me. Thus, the revision to resolution number four. Doing something every week that scares me is a way to turn off the tape. Purposing to face my fears gives me confidence to continue facing fears. It makes me feel capable to do things that I think I’m unprepared (i.e. incapable) of doing. It gives me hope and meaning in my day to day life. Facing my fears will make me more mindful and present in my days and weeks because I will really have to focus on the moment at hand to push myself beyond those fears. I guess thats where the idea of never knowing exactly the path I should take becomes liberating. I don’t have to feel bad about not knowing. I can quit looking, worrying, and waiting. Instead I can focus on the day at hand and make the best choices in that day. I can do all I can to get everything out of everyday and life my life as free of anxiety, worry, and fear as possible. I cannot be a failure if I simply try. Try new things…Try the things that scare me most…Try and fail. I can fail and not be a failure. I just with I believed it right now. No matter. If there’s anything I’ve learned in fighting an eating disorder its that what you believe is almost irrelevant. Your actions are what matters.
So there you go…whoever you are… if there’s even anyone reading. And, I almost hope there’s not…being that I’ve suddenly started bearing my soul. Go figure.
Hopefully I’ll start posting each week on a fear I’ve overcome. Hopefully.
Here’s a hint on something I have in mind for this week…