I've been thinking a lot lately about fear and what holds me back. This year has been a real struggle for me on a personal level - I've learned a lot but I've also felt the most lost and overwhelmed that I've ever felt in my life. When I was younger, I always felt like I had some sort of direction and trajectory in life and I always seemed to know what path would be a good one for me to take. However, I feel that sometime in the past 6 months or so, the rug got pulled out from under me and I was left on my back, gasping for air and disoriented. I dropped my compass somewhere along the way and have been desperately digging through the brush to try and find it with no luck (got stabbed by a lot of thorns though).
And the thing is, though the main precursor to this personal struggle is career, this loss of direction is not really rooted in any particular event or experience. No one "did" anything to me and no major tragedy occured in my life per se. No one SNATCHED the compass from my hand and threw it out of my reach. I dropped it. I lost it (albeit unintentionally).
And somehow, somewhere I let the disorientation and feelings of failure take over and hold me back from going as far as I can go.
I've never been a confident person - in fact, I've always struggled with shyness and self-consciousness and I've always been a slave to my fears that I wouldn't be good enough or that I don't have enough to offer. I've never been what I would call a "fighter". I've always tried and pushed myself, but most of the time only so far. It's not often that I've pushed farther than is comfortable or farther than others around me who I perceived as more this and better at that than me.
I have come a long way in the self-respect department in the past few years, and as such my confidence has certainly improved, but I'm still not as brave as I'd like to be.
Luckily I always had opportunities come my way and enough people to believe in me that it always seemed I'd be going places. This is no longer the case. This year I either found myself with no one to believe in me and give me a chance or people to believe in me a LITTLE bit but not as much as they do in someone else. All of a sudden I was (and am) in the position of having to believe in myself that much more in order to fight to make others believe in me.
And I realized I don't necessarily have that in me. Or if I do, it's buried too far down for me to see and grasp clearly. I started out fighting but as the rejections piled up and rewards for my efforts seemed further and further afield I didn't want to fight anymore. I curled up into a ball, pulled the blankets over my head and decided if I wasn't going to get anywhere than why bother trying?!
So, now here I sit.
This isn't a sob story; this isn't meant to be a treatise entitled "oh poor me" to incite pity. This is meant to illustrate what my mind-set was up until about a week ago. You see, sometime in the past week between reflecting and talking to people and reading and researching, I realized that for at least a couple of months I have settled into a passive state. Subconsciously, I became so fed up with trying and not getting anywhere and thinking and coming up with no logical conclusions (at least not ones that lasted) that I decided to give up. I said "screw it" to life and have been settling for less than I deserve and want.
Well that stops RIGHT NOW.
The real issue is (and one that has affected me my entire life) that I'm my own worst enemy. No one holds me back from going as far as I can go except ME. Sure, opinions and words of others can affect my self-confidence, but for the most part it's my OWN opinions and thoughts that affect me the most. I am the one that lets the feelings of doubt and drowning take over and I am the one that expects the most from me.
And I guess that's what it all comes down to, isn't it? Expectations. I (and I think probably lots of others too) place ones on myself that are very very high; higher than anyone else will ever place them. So, I guess I'm feeling so lost and frustrated, not because I disappointed other people and didn't live up to their standards, but because I disappointed myself. I'm disappointed that I gave up and that I let a few roadblocks stump me and prevent me from moving forward. I may not be the bravest or most confident, but I still pride myself on being a tough, perserverant, mature, level-headed person so I'm not happy that I fell through on these character strengths.
So what if I got a little lost? So what if no one sees what I can offer and won't give me a chance to prove what I can do? I can prove my worth to myself by just DECIDING on a plan, forging a new path and striding along it confidently. At least I'll be doing something - I won't be sitting back anymore and letting life happen to me and strike me down. I'll be moving forward, which is something I've always been good at.
I still feel lost and overwhelmed, and being brave is something I still need a lot of practice in but I feel a lot less lost and overwhelmed having come to these realizations, and having come up with a short-term plan. I feel I have grabbed back a bit more control (and really this is appropriate because aren't WE the ones that have the most control in our lives?!). Each time I am brave and conquer my fear I feel less afraid.
I am slowly finding bearings again - they weren't the same bearings I had before (seems as though I found someone else's compass in the dirt) but at least they are bearings. I have a new direction, and one that I chose myself, FOR myself.
Now that I'm out of my own way, the path is clear (or at least a hell of a lot clearer than it was!)
What is holding you back from moving forward? Are you YOUR own worst enemy? How do you move forward when you're feeling "stuck" and lost?