There are too many things to do. Straight up, I’m never gonna get to fulfil all of my wishes in life and I need to accept that. Furthermore, I know that the number of activities that’d be right up my alley far exceed the amount that I know about. There are so many films to watch, books to read, music to hear, foods to eat, physical activities to try. I’m sure that all of my interests have neighbouring interests that intersect enough to make skill transference possible. So once I get into a new hobby it’s only opening the door to other things I want to do. Problem solved, do everything then.
It’s not that easy.
The clincher to all of this this doing, trying and experiencing mentality is that I have a pre-existing block in the way. I don’t like doing things I suspect I’m not gonna be good at. Are any of you like this? Tentative to venture into new avenues over pre-emptive fear of failure? I get you. If I’m not gonna do it well, I don’t want to do it at all. The chance that I’d put myself out there and feel self-conscious, silly or useless is a very real fear that halts so much of my life. We all have so much potential and we rarely exercise all that we have. Those famous opinion leaders you see out there: Performers, creators, leaders. They must have this exceptional talent at pushing themselves past inner blocks. How do they do it? How do they turn down/off that inner doubt? What fire lights up in their bowels, loins or chests? What drives them? Does it come in a bottle. Is canned confidence a thing? We live in a capitalist society, goddammit. How hasn’t this reached the shelves?
Tension between fear of failure, desire of new experiences, a need for self-respect and validation is resonating all throughout me right now. I’m surrounded by amazing people who astound and inspire me every day. I have friends who reach all those peaks I dream of and keep climbing. People with talents or skills I can’t help but envy. People who perform, create, lead. I see their results and the dumb, caveman part of me assumes it comes naturally, that it’s not something that they had to fight for. I disregard their hours of practice and training. I look past the struggle they had to get to that point and I’m filled with inadequacy. How can they be so smart? So funny? So capable? So empathetic? I get focused on the end and forget about the journey that took them there. How do I retrain this impulse? I know that these people have their own doubts, that there are probably even things I do and take for granted that they marvel at. I know that these victories are a macrocosm of a life that has a galaxy of issues and conflicts, but that’s not what I take from it.
I was talking to a friend today who was refurbishing furniture she’d found. She told me about her process of doing up this dresser. Removing the handles and polishing them. Sanding, priming, painting distressing and sealing. I was in awe. How could she do all of these things? How did she possess such miraculous practical skills? Here she was fixing and restoring something I’d otherwise see as trash. She was bringing new life to something neglected. How amazing is that? Why couldn’t I measure up? Why didn’t I know how to do any of these skills? I didn’t even know how not to leave streaks from the brush. I left the conversation with endless admiration, but instead of seeing the process as something I could do, I saw it as too daunting to start. I saw the path of something like this extending for miles. I’d have to begin at square one and learn it all. I’d fail again and again. I’d produce shitty work and all the time and dedication I put in would take ages to flourish. What was the point?
Even when I’m already on my way towards a goal, the gravity still sets in. Take rock climbing for example. This is the third time I’ve gone this week and it’s not getting easier. I see these people who make it look easy and marvel at all they’ve accomplished. I’m a slave to comparison and feel the weight of what I have yet to learn pulling me down to earth. Why do they appear so graceful when I’m straining and struggling to keep holding on? How do they just know the way to turn their hips? To embrace the natural mechanics of their body? Why am I such a fraud? Why keep going if I have so much that’s stopping me?
Once again, I’m disregarding that they’ve put hard work and dedication to get where they are. In my head, they just gripped the wall and took to it immediately. I erase their struggle and only see my own. It’s ludicrous, frustrating and supremely unhelpful.
Why am I scared to try? Why does putting in effort feel like the bane of my existence? Why is appearing anything less than capable so terrifying? Who am I? Carrie? Do I really think I’m gonna end up drenched in pig’s blood while onlookers laugh? Why is failure the end of everything rather than a stepping stone to greater heights? What does it take to understand that I can do anything I want, but I need to be shitty at it for a while? How can I understand that everyone was, until they weren’t? What will get it into my head that it’s not easy and that’s okay?
Or will it take too much work to think that way?