When I'm not blogging, it usually means I'm busy living. And this week, I have been living. The few times I did find myself staring at an empty text box below the words 'New Post' this week, I was at a loss for words to type out.
Because the thing with living is that it's pretty hard to process, to grasp, and most of all, to write down when you're caught in the middle of all its craziness. The lessons, the appreciation, the understanding for what we've gone through usually come in hindsight. Often, we only realize or understand what we've lived through after we've lived through it.
I think I've just been thrown into the middle of one of those crazy OMG-how-did-the-week-just-fly-by, sleeping-late-and-waking-up-early seasons of living, laughing, crying, loving. And I think I'm ready to face it.
After coming back from the UK absolutely drained, this past month and a half - spent giving myself time, spent paying attention to myself, spent being honest with myself, spent giving myself a chance - has been good for me.
I've come to realize that most of the time, when I tell myself "I can't", what it really means is "I won't". I won't risk failure or embarrassment or even worse, mediocrity - I won't even try because those risks are not worth it. I don't really mean "I can't" because I don't even know if I can or can't, because I've not even tried.
It dawned on me how much of my life was spent telling myself "I won't", masked by excuses of "I can't", "It's not my thing", and "I'm not good at that". I realized if I kept having the attitude of "I'm not a corporate person", "I'm an artsy person; I don't fit inside a system", and "I'm hopeless at understanding business and finance" - even before giving any of the above a chance - I was going to make myself miserable for the next three years.
I've also come to realize that I'm more afraid of success than of failure. If you've failed, as long as you've tried your hardest, then you can simply shrug it off and say I tried my best, but I guess that's not my lot in life. With success comes recognition - and scrutiny. What if... what if there are people who don't think I deserve my success? What if there are people who are jealous of me? What if there are people who try to steal my successes from me... and what if they succeed? What if I can't handle everyone looking at me and evaluating my success? It comes down, then, not to a matter of failure versus success... but a matter of self-worth.
As Marianne Williamson famously put it:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who are we to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous. But honestly, who are you to not be so?
You are a child of God, small games do not work in this world. For those around us to feel peace, it is not example to make ourselves small. We were born to express the glory of God that lives in us. It is not in some of us, it is in all of us. While we allow our light to shine, we unconsciously give permission for others to do the same. When we liberate ourselves from our own fears, simply our presence may liberate others."
But these epiphanies mean nothing if my perspectives and actions don't change. So I told myself to stop telling myself "I won't" and give myself a chance. And while succeeding - really succeeding in life - scares the crap out of me, I've decided to give it 101% - everything I have in me and whatever more I can muster. To be scared, but to do it anyway, scared and all.
I'm a big advocate of facing your fears. To overcome my fear of heights and wobbly knees, I turned to Skytrex and Genting Theme Park's Space Shot. To overcome my fear of reptiles, I wrapped a python around my neck. In the future, I hope to go for a night dive to overcome my phobia of dark water, which I blame on my parents for letting me watch JAWS when I was a tiny kid. But these fears aren't as crippling as things like the fear of failing or succeeding.
Often, we don't see our avoidance of those things as fears. It's easy to address a fear of insects or lizards once you acknowledge it as a fear and take steps to overcome it. But as long as we don't admit that telling ourselves "I can't" really means we just don't want to, and that sometimes, we don't push ourselves enough because we don't really think we deserve success, then we'll never be able to overcome those mentalities.
Overcoming a problem starts with admitting there's one.
(Note: I discovered the above word while writing a review for a Northern Indian restaurant. It is a reverential greeting associated with several Eastern religions, most famously Hinduism, but I believe its essence transcends religion or culture. It means "I honour the divinity within you", or "the light in me respects the light in you". Beautiful.)