He left for a job when he was 19, but he was always supposed to go back. That was the plan. He had a deposit on a shared apartment with his best friend, and when he wrapped things up after a few years in Baltimore, he would be heading home.
And then he met this girl. He had to stay to see about a girl. Thank God he did not tell said girl this, as having this information would have caused her to panic and sabotage the operation altogether.
So when we went back to visit, for the first few years, from acquaintances and a handful of “people who knew him when,” he got some push back. Who did he think he was? With his bank job and (over processed) blonde fiancée, with his stories from another city. This is Danny the joker, the troublemaker, we know him, we felt them say, he can’t leave.
He fought the feeling for years before, I think, he realized it was also coming from within.
I feel like one of my strengths is self-awareness. I know the few things I’m good at, the other things I’m passable at, and the rest that I probably just shouldn't do. Mostly this doesn't trouble me, except here’s the thing: Self-awareness is a lot like self-defeat if it keeps us from trying something new.
“We’re hiking Koko Head in the morning,” they said one night, “join us.” And that girl who lives in my head, the one from that small town of my experience, the one who limits me replied, “I don’t hike.”
“Come snorkeling in Shark’s Cove with us,” they called. And that girl said, “I don’t have any gear; I don’t really know how.”
“We’re going to jump off this lava rock formation into the cove! It’s so freeing! Want to come?” And she said, “Are you kidding me? I have babies back home. I am cautious. I don’t do stuff like that.”
And that’s when I had had enough.
I went snorkeling in a tank top and a borrowed mask, so taken aback by the beauty I saw that I screamed underwater for no one to hear as I glided along with sea turtles.
And in borrowed Tevas I jumped at least 20 feet off the “cliff” and into the cove. Me. Cautious Christina who never does anything impulsive.
It’s not that I advocate doing everything you’re asked to do. There’s nothing wrong with knowing who you are, and the voice inside our heads that calls us to be prudent is not the one I’m talking about silencing.
It’s the other one. The one that says you can’t. That you shouldn't, that you’d probably fail anyway.
She's the one that keeps me from being authentic and saying how I really feel sometimes, when I know what I want to say will go against the grain of the group. She’s the one that keeps me tucked safely where I’m comfortable. The one who says I’m not really a small business owner, not really a writer. That my skills, considerable and legitimate, won’t really translate into this next thing. Even though writing on my terms has been my dream since I was a second grader, even though it’s what I’ve always hoped for and worked towards. That scared, obnoxious girl keeps telling me that it's so far beyond my reach that I shouldn't even try. “You can’t write a book,” she says, “no one is asking you to do that. You don’t know anything about publishing. You don’t know where to start. You don’t know how to market it. No one would buy it anyway.” Friends, that girl gets on my nerves.
This might really be it.
Or I might fall on my face. I might fail miserably. That girl might stand over me then, taunting and laughing her "I told you so’s." But I’ve decided now, for me, that’s not reason enough not to try.
Is it time for you to dust off a dream that’s languishing? Don’t listen to the voices that tell you you can’t. The protective ones who know you so well that they struggle to see you in a new light and don’t want to you fail. Or the ones who "knew you when" and are uncomfortable with change. Or, worst of all, your own limiting keeper of the status quo within. They want things to stay the same. They fear change and instability. They fear failure. Sometimes they even fear success. Change things anyway. Shake things up anyway. Risk failing anyway.
I’m fearful and uncertain and out of my depth, but I'm doing a new thing. I don’t know if I’ll be any good at it yet. It really annoys the cautious planner in me that I can’t tell now how it will all end. But I'll never know if I don't try, and neither will you.