I love to make lists of goals. I love to postulate on all the things I could do and how I could go about achieving whatever I decide I would like to do.
That being said, I am also a notorious self-saboteur.
Whenever something big that I really want seems achievable, I panic. I decide that it’s not something I can really accomplish or that it’s something I’m not qualified to do or that I somehow don’t deserve to achieve said thing… and then I go about proving myself right.
I don’t hold myself accountable. I don’t complete the detailed list of steps toward the goal I’ve already made. I freeze up (completely, full body lock) whenever I even think about putting in the work.
I’ve done it countless times in a bunch of different arenas, pretty much since I was a little kid, because being successful at something means that people are just going to keep expecting that from you.
Take writing, for example. I’ve been a writer since I could string enough words together to make a sentence in which most of the words were spelled correctly. I would love to have a piece of my fiction published on paper, but whenever I try to complete a piece of original fiction, it’s like I’ve climbed up onto a bungee jumping bridge and am looking down. Sweats, upset stomach, total body lock. (Mostly because I believe I’m not good enough to get something published and that people don’t actually enjoy what I write, despite some people in my life telling me quite plainly that they do.)
I have submitted exactly one piece of fiction for publication in a literary journal (which definitely had not been revised enough, because I was eighteen and not open to constructive peer workshopping) and, almost thirteen years later, am still not over the rejection letter I received in return. Even though I know why the story was rejected and that pretty much all writers know that sting, failing to get published once makes me doubt my ability to do so at all.
Failure is more terrifying to me than anything else and because of that fear, I get stuck and panic and don’t take it as an opportunity to grow. Apparently, I’d rather be mediocre at a lot of things than open my ears, work hard, and go the distance, because, ye Gods, what if I actually did succeed and then people expected more from me only to find out that delivering once was a total fluke???
My head tells me that this is a ridiculous, toxic way to run my life, and sometimes I can get over the hurdle (like with the fitness journey that I’ve been on since last July and plan to be on for the rest of my life), but more often than not, this nefarious voice in my brain pan tells me that being okay at stuff is better than trying to be good and failing (or worse, succeeding).
Something Hubs said to me yesterday on our run stuck with me, though, and made me want to word vomit about this all over the place. We were talking about Game of Thrones and the quotable lines in the most recent episode, which segued to quotable lines from the show. One of his favourite quotes/scenes is from last season, said by Davos Seaworth in conversation with Jon Snow when Jon’s lamenting about his feelings of failure with the Night’s Watch:
“Good. Now go fail again.”
It stuck with me, I guess, because yeah, failure sucks and it stings and success is terrifying, but the thing that’s worth it, regardless of the outcome, is trying. And trying again. And again.
I’m not trying with a lot of things. I’m putting in the minimum effort to get by with some of the things I’ve said I want to accomplish, but not enough to actually be considered really trying. Just enough to look like I am.
Something the Rock said on his Instagram recently hammered this point home too. He was talking about success and he said:
“The X- factor that’ll set you apart is the hard work you put in when no one is around and you’re all alone.“
I panic when I’m alone. I let my fears and insecurities eat me up most of the time and it puts me farther away from the things I want to achieve and sends me down the well travelled path of self-sabotage.
There’s no real ‘happy resolution’ to this post or any kind of re-commitment to achievement, acceptance of failure as a part of success (even though I know it is), just a vent of feelings and a final observation:
If I don’t try or put in the actual work needed, I’ve already failed, so what am I actually afraid of?