When it comes to action - the doing, being, changing - I am incredibly timid. I get anxious over big changes. I'm afraid of failure. I over-think things which causes me to stall, or avoid, action.
It has gotten increasingly worse in the last few years. Having kids was maybe part of it - I feel like I have more to lose now. Plus, because I like stability and structure, the number of moves and changes we've had over the last two years left me dizzy. The constant adjusting to Big Life Changes made me agitated and worried that I would never find solid footing again.
When I do (on my own accord) consider making changes that I could feel in control of (ha!), I find myself fearful of failure. For example - I used to love, and find much of my identity in, graphic design and theatre. But when I think about getting "back in the game", I'm so afraid of failing that I just push those desires away. For the time being, I have the somewhat legitimate excuse of devoting most of my time and brain power to caring for our three little ones. But they won't be this tiny and dependent forever (I don't know whether to cheer or sob). I can do those things I loved again some day. Yet, when I look just a few years ahead to the possibility of getting involved again, my stomach just clinches with fear. Because I'm afraid of failing at things I used to be good at. I fear that I will never measure up to my previous self.
But here's the thing - I'm sick of all that. I'm tired of having all of my decisions and hopes and dreams dripping with thick, toxic fear. It's pathetic and boring. I want to be brave and open to trying new things and excited (not afraid) at the possibility of changing things up. Yes, I still desire stability and want to use wisdom, but I don't want to use those things as an excuse for never changing or for my anxiety when things do change (which they inevitably will, because that's life).
This is something that's been on my mind for a while, and then with all the "new year - new you" stories and quotes and resolutions that have been floating around the Internet this month, there was no shortage of inspiration. There were two quotes in particular that really
"Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity."
The second quote I stumbled upon was from author J.K. Rowling:
"It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default."
Reading this was like a splash of cold water that jarred awake my mildly catatonic, inner self. I just remember reading it and thinking, "Good grief - that is me! I'm failing by default because I'm so afraid of living."
The timing of this revelation was fortunate as Devin has been longing to quit his part-time job at FedEx to pursue more freelance design work. Normally, I would be having HUGE anxiety about this. But once all angles had been reasonably discussed and a decision needed to be made, I felt calm about trying to make this dream of his a reality. The fears of failure and not making enough money and all those other things I could panic about are still hanging around somewhere (which I think is natural). They are just in the back of my mind as possibilities, not at the forefront screeching at me to stop everything - this is the worst idea EVER. And while I can't promise I won't have my freak out moments, I do feel ready to celebrate with my husband the end of a physically demanding job and cheer on his pursuit of the work he's passionate about. Let me tell you - it feels SO much better than the anxiety.
So, deep breath and here we go! I raise my coffee mug to possibility, curiosity, bravery, and taking chances. I'm ready to see where this may lead...
artwork by Jennifer Hanson