Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fear and Other Things

So I have a theory which I am presupposing is accurate - people are afraid of following their dreams. Not everyone, but a lot of people, myself included. I was thinking about it on the way home from college, a book in a folder in my hand and the sun making me regret wearing my big green coat that really just killed me towards the end of the day. I wrote the book over two years ago. I have done no work on the book in about eight months. In that time I wrote three somewhat good novellas - they have potential, but they're nowhere near what I'd like them to be - and I started at least three other books that never got further than a few thousand words. But I haven't done what's important towards getting published, and that's finishing this one really important book.

The fear, I suppose, is that if I got published and if I'm to believe a friend that it'll make me "millions", my whole life would change. I would lose that drive to finish my college course, and maybe I'd become so involved in my own newly developing world that I'd give up all the people I care about. It's not uncommon for me to drift from social group to social group, to sometimes become entirely self-involved (without rubbing my existence in anyone's face, mind you, just not paying entirely enough attention to everyone else). It's my nature to become distracted by new and shiny things, and I worry (maybe that's the wrong word) that if I ever got anywhere I wanted to I'd leave behind the foundations of that life and lose the people I cared about because I stopped paying attention for just a bit too long.

I think that fear stems from my misunderstanding of people, jumbled up with the aforementioned self-involvement. It's as if, sometimes, if I annoy someone or if I don't talk to them, that I'll just slip too far away from them to matter anymore, as if my parting in one way or another matters so much that I won't get back. So, if I got published, if I became successful, then I'd be leaving behind the people I care about; not in spite, not in anger or because of an argument, but because I'd have to focus so much on doing something that's important to me, and this new and shiny adventure I'm on would bypass any need to keep in touch with people.

And I have the same fear that once people get over their own inhibitions or the obstacles set up by other people on their lives that maybe I'd be all forgotten about, or worse that I am one of the obstacles in their way and I'd have to give up one of my friends for them to be happy. I assume the absolute worst, sometimes, and I cannot help that, particularly if I get caught in some sort of downward spiral, and sometimes that feeling of being an obstacle just doesn't go away.

This fear I have, this multitude of fears that I have, is something I am sure that lots of people go through. It's why we procrastinate, is it not? It's why people don't study even when they want to do well, because it's like if they apply themselves then everything will change. Or worse: they don't think they're good enough, regardless of whether or not they study. I was like that. I know I could have done better in my Leaving Certificate, but I didn't do the work. That's my own fault, but it was fear of under-succeeding that got to me, and the fear that everything would change after the exams.

But there is the truth - things have to change. In the exam situation, whether you pass or fail subjects, things will change anyway. Everything changes, though not immediately, and what many people, myself included, sometimes fail to realise is that it's up to us to decide how our lives should change. While I don't encourage cutting people loose from your life, I do suggest that people do something selfish, do something for themselves, something that will make them, and them alone, happy. Whether it's going for that job they don't think they deserve, finishing the book and submitting it to a publisher or anything else that won't directly hurt someone (because obviously if you get the job or if you get published, it can significantly reduce the chances that someone else will get the same benefits... but remember: this is about you!), people ought to chase their dreams, big or small.

It's impossible to be completely released from our inhibitions, but we can sure as heck make an effort to overcome the challenges that hold us back. At the risk of being preachy (oh, too late),I'm going to finish by saying that people need to take control of their own lives. We don't have to do everything our parents want from us - such as becoming a teacher after doing this course I'm in  rather than pursuing some other career - and we don't have to be held back by their decisions about something that we disagree with entirely, that affect us negatively. If you want to go to college against their wishes, pay for it yourself. Find your passion and live it, be happy, and the rest will work out around it.

And when you get scared, what then?

I talk about it. Not always quite so publicly as this, but to a close friend. I imagined most of this being said to a friend without him being able to respond because it let me get things straight in my head, but really this isn't something I think I could have said to him - whether he was sober or drunk and calling at three in the morning - because I wouldn't have been able to put the words right out loud for fear of sounding like I was trying to take control of his life of have him make my decisions for me. But that's just me - I'm a complicated individual. But talking about fear, talking about the things that hold us back, is the first step towards overcoming those obstacles so we can get on with the race.

That was preachy, wasn't it? Sure, what about it? Live your life, live your dreams, be yourself and get over your fears. And do as I say, not as I do, because odds are I won't follow my own advice, whether it's good or bad.

1 comment:

Rebecca Woodhead said...

Good post. :)

Some people are with you for a reason, some for a season, and some for life. The ones who will drift away will do so regardless. Those who are with you for life will be there if you're successful or not. They'll be with you if you're in the next room or another country.

Live YOUR dream. It's tricky, but it's a lot bloody harder to live someone else's. Only you know where your heart is pointing you, and only you can take the steps to go there.