My friends tend to tell me that I’m a pretty confident person- occasionally too much so, even. Throughout my young life, I’ve often found myself speaking in front of my peers, performing my original work, and jockeying to get onstage whenever there’s opportunity. I’m a creative who loves to test the waters in all sorts of different mediums, see what I can create, imagine, produce, etc. Here’s a secret about me:
It scares me to death.
All of it. I mean literally to the bone. Showing my book to people, standing up onstage, trying to convince reviewers and journalists to write about me- it’s terrifying. I do all of these things and I do them often, but it’s no hyperbole for me to say that they’re scary endeavors. I feel like every day I walk on a razor’s edge of rejection and acceptance. Every single time before I perform onstage, every time I have to pitch my book, every time I stand up in front of anybody- terror.
I was struck by a thought the other day as I was working out. I’m still in decent shape, but back in high school, thanks to some pretty draconian wrestling coaches, I was in very good shape. As I was exercising, I thought, Man, this used to be easier. And then I stopped myself. I thought about it. And I realized I was wrong. It was never easier. It was always a struggle. I routinely felt sick or tired before and during a workout, but I had to push through anyway. No excuses, as my wrestling coaches taught me. I think it’s an easy thing to look at people we admire, skilled professionals, seasoned veterans, etc. and to assume that what they do is no challenge for them. “That’s so easy for them!” “They can’t miss!” “How do they never get scared?” I tend to think this way about some of my heroes. This is a fallacious, though understandable line of reasoning.
Granted, there is a certain amount of skill involved in a lot of things we do, and we can certainly increase our skills. That’s not what I’m talking about. In so far as the heart behind a matter goes- the courage to face a daunting task, the tenacity to push through pain, the patience to endure- I think it doesn’t actually get easier. I think we either grow into a habit of pushing ourselves or being pushed around by ourselves. We always want to find a magic formula for change, for success, for fill in the blank, but I think there usually isn’t one. In a lot of areas, I don’t think it ever gets easier. I think there are just some things that need to be conquered over and over, day by day.
I hope this doesn’t sound discouraging. In a way, I hope it’s even liberating. It’s okay that good things are hard- I’m convinced that just about everything worth doing is. It’s okay to struggle, just don’t give in. Keep struggling.
The biggest lie we were ever told as kids was that we are all winners. Anyone with a firm grip on reality will tell you how wrong this is. Heck- I’m a loser sometimes, as are we all. Life, for all of its blessings and beauty, is not easy, and if we don’t struggle and overcome, well, we certainly aren’t winners then. Participation rarely gets a medal worth anything. I’m scared to death of having my work rejected, disregarded, panned, and by proxy, I’m scared of people rejecting me. But sitting around full of fear doesn’t accomplish anything. It tends to be sort of a self-fulfilling prophesy, in my experience.
All of this to say- I’m going to keep doing what’s necessary, because it was never easier in the past. It probably won’t ever be easier in the future either. Yet the rewards are good, and the prize is alluring. Keep running the race, friends.