Each day as I walk down the hall of my school to the media center, I pass a bulletin board full of inspirational quotes by famous people. One in particular that is attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt always jumps out at me:
Doing a scary thing every single day is a little much, but the idea is there – that we should actually seek out things that scare us, not just wait for them to come to us. This quote implies that we are choosing the thing to face and having that choice is a luxury. I know several folks right now who are being forced to confront situations that they would just as soon not have, such as the the terror of a cancer diagnosis for themselves or a family member, the dread of loneliness after the loss of a spouse or child, and worries about keeping their job. Some young single women I know are afraid of not getting married and I know mothers who are fearful of who their children might marry. For many of us, we have very real apprehensions about what is happening in our country.
But sometimes in life we make the choice to face our fears because we are more afraid of looking back and wondering “What if?”
I have been surrounded by many people who have made better lives for themselves by choosing to take the “road less traveled”, including my father. Daddy worked for Burlington Industries for thirty years, rising up in the ranks to a Vice President position by the time I was in high school. Like most of his generation, he was a loyal company man and when asked to move his family and work long hours, he did so with no complaints. He never discussed business with me, but I learned from Mama that after I started to college, he was passed over for a promotion. Many men might have kept their heads down and finished out their years until their retirement, but Daddy had too much pride for that. Although I’m sure it was a financial risk, he took an early retirement and started his own “headhunter” business, Mark IV Personnel, using his vast network of contacts in the textile world to help others find executive jobs. Not only did the business keep him active and involved well into his 70’s, but he was able to mentor many men and women in their careers, one of his many gifts.
Now that I’m at the age Daddy was when he took his leap of faith, I realize how easy it is to simply go with the flow and not challenge myself. And I don’t want to be that way. Life has too many interesting twists and turns to let it just slip by because I am afraid of failure.
I’ve been praying lately about something that scares me – putting together a book of these blogs and other writings I’ve done. Many of you have encouraged and pushed me, but those insecurities keep popping up – what if no one is interested, what if it is terrible, what if it is just a waste of my time? I picture myself ten years from now with a boxful of the books that I’m still peddling and giving away as gifts!
So I’ve been praying and all of a sudden everywhere I turned I was hearing something about facing my fears. Specifically, I have been listening to the second season of Elizabeth Gilbert’s podcast on creativity, called Magic Lessons. The podcast the other day was so directed at me that I wanted to look heavenward and say – “Okay, God, I get it!”
Here are a few points I’ve gleaned from the Magic Lesson podcasts that speak to my hesitancy in going after my goals:
– Often when contemplating starting something new I second guess myself and feel like I don’t have the skills or experience to do it. Elizabeth Gilbert makes the point that the only way to get the confidence is to actually do the work. Most of us don’t start a new job or project feeling like we totally know what we are doing, but we learn as we go along, and then the confidence comes.
– The perfect time will never come, nor will waiting until I have more time ever happen. I remember when I was contemplating going back to school for my media specialist degree at age 37, and feeling like I was too old (!), someone said – “You will be the same age in 2 years, why not have a degree?” Wise words.
– In life, we cannot control others, only ourselves. I need to be reminded of this in all areas of my life. In relation to writing, I can only write what is on my heart, and I can’t control how people react to it. So my motivation needs to be to do the work because I have the desire to write, not because anyone likes it or even wants to read it. I need to do it for myself.
– And finally – it’s often easy to talk about writing (or whatever creative avenue you may have), go to classes and seminars and never get the work done! This hit home for me – I love reading books about writing, going to my writer’s group, discussing writing – but then not making myself sit down and actually write! I find this is true of my prayer life also. I have a Bible reading and prayer time each morning, but too often find myself checking my email or even Facebook when I’m supposed to be communing with God! Procrastinating and giving in to distractions are ways that I keep myself from the type of spiritual life I say that I want, and the same is true of achieving my goals.
So I’m hoping that 2017 will be the year I forge ahead and follow the dreams I have had since I was a little girl! You may be struggling with goals like losing weight or starting to exercise, or getting out of debt or doing art or joining a Bible study. I encourage you to not let day to day distractions and lack of confidence to keep you from what God may be calling you to do!