The biggest limit we impose on ourselves is fear.

Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of abandonment, disapproval. Whatever kind of fear you have it’s still just fear. Nothing but shitty, sweaty, nasty, smelly, old fear.

It has been controlling my life for entirely too long.

I used to write in high school and junior high. I used to write a lot. I wrote my little fearful heart out. I imagined myself  a writer with my shitty cheesy poetry and little essays. I didn’t think I was the shit then but I thought when I grew up I would be.

Then life happened. Rather, insecurity and lack of confidence happened. I stopped writing. I stopped dreaming. Dreams are for kids, I thought, and it was time to grow up. I changed my dreams and made them boring, plebian, and “adult”. I took the perfectly good dreams I had and ground them right into the dirt like so much trash. I did that and no one else.

What is the measure of  success anyway? Money, fame, fortune? Adulation? A secure job, safe future? Is it a husband, a family, what?  I was told that it was. I bought into it. I still want it and it is still the measure by which I set success.

Considering how high the bar has been set, I have not been successful. I haven’t tried very hard. Actually, I haven’t tried  at all. Because of fear. Failure. The idea of trying my damndest to do something that I desperately want and failing at it is utterly terrifying. I would have nothing left if that happened. I would have nothing left and I would be nothing. Nothing.

Consequently, I have lived my life avoiding that fear any way that I could. My life has been nothing but a series of excuses for not trying the things that I wanted so badly. Never so much as a half-hearted attempt. Because life happens. That was my excuse. Not enough money. No money in the career. The job market is too tough. I haven’t been given the right opportunities. I didn’t have the proper encouragement. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, blah, blah, blah.

What a crock of shit that turned out to be. That was just the fear talking.

Everything that we do in life and everything that we fail to do is nothing but fear.

It’s only been in the last four years that I have learned to face it. It took my life falling apart to face my fears. It only took the most painful experience in my life to realize I had the strength and the courage to face it.

I thought I had. I quit my job, moved abroad, began enjoying so much more of what life has to offer. Trying new things, having adventures, living life.

I  didn’t face all my fears though. Oh no, there are plenty more trying to claw me back down to where I used to be. In my dreams, my fantasies, and my waking moments they haunt me. It is so difficult to change the thought patterns of a lifetime. I have to be alert to it every day. Examine every thought and question it to assure myself that I am doing what I need to be doing. When I get lazy, when I’m not paying attention, or when I just don’t give a damn, I open up the door to fear.

It’s time and long past time that I face it.  I’m staring 31 in the face, and I still haven’t tried to do what I must do if I am to be happy.

I need to go back to school. I need to write. For the first time, I need to try. Try the things that scare me the most. I already look back on my life and wonder where I would be now, if only I had tried earlier. It fills me with a small amount of pleasure and a disgustingly gross amount of regret.  Pleasure, because I’m finally doing the things I want to do. Regret, because this is only the half of it.  There is so much left to experience, to love, to savor in life. So much left to do.

I read blogs written by college students and wonder if that couldn’t have been me had I tried at least a little. I look at successful twenty-young-things and can only admire their determination and perseverance. They have succeeded where I never bothered to try.

I don’t want to be staring forty or fifty in the face and having these same thoughts. I don’t want to wonder if I got hit by a bus tomorrow and it killed me, would I be proud of my life? Would I have lived a full life?  Did I do what I should have done? Or would my life just be a string of all the things I hadn’t tried because I never had the courage to? I already know the answer to that question.

I started writing this post earlier today before I went to an ortho clinic to get a second opinion on my back. Guess what they told me? Go ahead they said. Try the physical therapy, do the steroid shot, don’t waste your time with acupuncture, but what you really need is surgery. So yeah, give it a month, and then come back before the herniation begins to damage the nerve in your spine, and get the surgery.

In a matter of a couple of hours all my talk, my bluster about facing my fears got completely destroyed. Surgery?! Are you fucking kidding me?! I can’t have surgery. Not here in Taiwan! Not now!  NOOOOOOOO!

It took me a good couple of hours to come back from that. Thank god I came to some revelations about fear right before I went in because otherwise there is no way in the world I would be handling this news as calmly as I am now. The pain meds helped too, no lie. They numb down every last emotion I’m capable of. I had a scary moment a couple of weeks ago where I realized I couldn’t laugh at some true comedy, I couldn’t cry even when the situation deserved it, and although every thought was crystal clear in my brain and I was sober, I could not summon any single actual emotion about anything. It was one of the creepiest things I’ve ever experienced in my life. Or it would have been was I able to feel it. Mildly perturbed was the best I managed.

Yeah, I started taking less painkillers after that.

Now I’m sitting here and I realized nothing has changed. Yes. I had a minor freak out, but so what? I’m not, I will NOT go back into painkiller hazy LaLa land for another six weeks. I will do my research. I will apply to some schools.  I will get the master degree I have wanted for so long. I will edit, I will publish, and I will write.

I will be successful.

Will you? No excuses. No regrets. Get to it.

 

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