Living in Fear

Have you ever wanted to do something in your life, but hesitated because that sort of life isn’t for you? For whatever reason, the thing you wanted most in life is not something you feel you are worthy of getting. So you sit back down. You look at the ground. You fiddle and fret your fingers like it wasn’t you who was about to ask the question or stand up and be recognized.

Sometimes life is like that.

I have had a few moments like that. I have them all the time. Most recently, I have looked at what I want in life and how things could improve. This morning, I decided to see what other jobs were out there. Moving to another town is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time and after 20+ years in this one, I have lived here longer than anywhere else in my life. It wasn’t supposed to be like this, but those were the cards I was dealt. Now, I have a job I have been working at for nearly two full decades, in a place just down the hall from where I worked as a student. This wasn’t supposed to be forever. I found myself feeling like a person who got off the train to use the bathroom and wound up working at the ticket counter, wearing a uniform, wondering where that train would have taken him all those years ago.

Switching jobs within my current day job field right now would just be swapping one master for another. An identical situation with a whole set of bullshit to endure, just like I am now. Only with more miles on my car and difficulties in getting my kid to school every day.

This life isn’t mine. It isn’t something I could ever deserve. These are things you tell yourself when facing the precipice of enormous success. It’s like choking at that last few steps as you close distance with the summit of a mountain. Any little misstep could lead to total failure. So, sometimes it is easier to live with the possibility that you could have had everything you wanted, but rather than let someone else or circumstance decide your fate, you took it into your own hands to destroy yourself before anyone else had a chance to do it for you.

You turned your back on the peak. With shaking legs, you gingerly began your descent, back down to camp, equipped with a lot of excuses as to why this was not the right day to reach the summit.

For the last several weeks, I have been fighting an uphill battle with my health. I’ve never had pneumonia before, and part of me dreads the next time I will get it. It was bad, with around five or six weeks. Four after antibiotics. But I have found that I need to build up momentum again when it comes to things that aren’t just fighting for breath. Work, writing, relationships with family and loved ones.

Even as I write these words, I feel the pressure of something I haven’t experienced at this level until now. These words have been hard to write because I feel like each one could be a misstep. I am blocked. Blocked by fear, which has crept into a lot of my writing, and as any creative person can tell you–artist, writer, musician–sometimes there comes a time when you are nearly paralyzed by it, because you want to create something good and memorable, instead of just coming close each time.

There are phone books filled with the names of people who have come close to creating something great, achieving their goals, breaking free from the madness of mundaety, the oppression of a daily grind job, who could have been lifted up if they had just made the right steps.

Knowing this is paralyzing.

“What if I fail?” isn’t nearly as scary as “What if I get everthing I ever wanted?” Because getting what you want brings along with it a whole other subset of problems. How do you maintain that kind of pace when it comes to success. If I get to that level, I will have to continue at the same pace and intensity as when I was trying to reach that level. This isn’t true. It’s actually exponentially harder. Which is even scarier if you stop to think about it.

But the good news is that once you achieve that level of accomplishment, anything less will be a pale substitute. You will acclimate. You will have the tools to know what worked and what didn’t much better. And you have been doing this with literally everything in your life from the moment you drew your first breath.

If you aren’t comfortable in you life right now because you want more fulfillment, this is your body telling you that you need to keep putting one foot ahead of the other, and eventually, the summit will be at your feet. And maybe from there you will see other mountains to climb.

With my writing lately, my health has been an excuse to not write. In reality, I have had as much difficulty putting one word after the next as I have had problems stringing one breath after the next. I have felt as close to getting everything I want through writing as I have ever felt in my life. But success, in my experience, is not something I have had enough times to feel comfortable or confident with. It is terrifying. Impostor syndrome is very real, as is the feeling that you deserve better than what you already have.

We put ourselves into boxes. We tell ourselves we are comfortable being in those boxes. That we deserve no more or no less than what we have. All else is vanity. But what if that were a lie? What if all it took was to take that next step forward. The next brushstroke on the canvas. The next line of code. The next word in a sentence. The next note or chord. To take us to the next place. If we had someone telling us that, wouldn’t it just be so easy? The next door you open has everything you ever wanted behind it, and so much more?

Maybe I’m telling you that right now. Maybe I should start telling myself that too.

2 Replies to “Living in Fear”

  1. Pingback: Living in Fear – Wendigo Mountain

  2. T.S. Mart and Mel Ayers

    I understand what you’re saying. I quit writing once, but the desire never left me, so here I am again, twenty years later, living a different life, on the cusp of something… I hope it works out, but it might not. My resolution is that I’m at peace regardless. –T. S.

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