I think we like getting comfortable. Too comfortable.
As humans, we don't like to feel out of our element, don't like to be second best, one step behind everyone else, the only one at the office water cooler who doesn't get the punchline, but laughs along anyway.
It's fear that's holding us back.
Fear of looking silly, stupid, slow and incompetent.
It's great to feel pride in what you know, what you can do, your successes, the goals that are close you can almost guarantee you will attain them. It's horrible to admit that you failed at something, or that you gave up. It's humiliating.
I think it's one of the reasons a lot of adults who quit college/university to work never go back. That people will stay in jobs they hate, or stay with partners long after the relationship has died. There is comfort in the familiar, comfort in knowledge, comfort in understanding tomorrow's expectations.
I have a near-masochistic hatred of this kind of fear.
Let me clarify, I'm not saying I'm immune to these fears... 'cause I am riddled with them...
I just hate being a slave to fear, so I will willingly throw myself into impossible situations the moment I realize that's the only thing holding me back.
When I read this blog post, I immediately got that sinking-stomach feeling, that flush of embarrassment across my face, that oh-crap-I-missed-the-boat-mental-head-slap as I realized Project #3 sucks. Yup, I fail at 1st person perspective. Filter words? Oh yeah, I got 'em in spades.
So, after that first punch to the gut, I console myself (poorly) by remembering this is my first attempt at 1st person perspective. I remind myself that this project is supposed to be *fun*, a mental-break from editing Project #2, a sandbox to play in when I've finished my homework.
...but it just doesn't help. That raging feeling of inadequacy can't easily be glossed over.
Then I think of the one thing that makes me smile again.
I've come up against worse, I've prevailed, I've overcome.
A year ago, I would not have dared start an online blog. Four years ago, I wouldn't have thought I could attain an Honours university degree because it required a second language. Six years ago, I wouldn't have considered quitting my job and returning to university to finish my degree. Ten years ago, I wouldn't have volunteered my editing services to anyone, certainly not as part of my job. Twenty-some-odd years ago, I couldn't have ever imagined letting someone know that I was dyslexic (though I didn't have the word for it at that age).
When I was seven, fear of being *outed* as silly, stupid, slow and incompetent made me so sick from stress that I missed a ton of school. At one point, I had a fever of 107 degrees for almost two weeks and had to have twice daily ice baths to lower my temperature. They were afraid I might die. I was always in and out of the doctor's office, having blood drawn, getting checked for anything and everything my GP could think of. Stress was not something they would normally diagnose for a seven year old child.
In light of overcoming that, worrying about filter words seems pretty ridiculous, right? Remembering all that, now I can just shrug and say, "I can improve. This isn't the end."
I'm not one for dwelling on the past, except in cases like this. When you are trapped by fear, the best thing you can do is look back and see everything you have accomplished.When the future unknown seem daunting and insurmountable, looking back on your past successes will remind you that you're not standing on a flat plain looking up at the Himalayas. You're already 60 or 80% of the way there.
Don't let fear trip you up and stop you from pursuing something new, something different, something a little crazy. Even if you're an old dog, you can still learn a new trick. Take a look back at what you've already accomplished if you need a reminder of just how far you've already come.
How do you handle fear?