Driving is my me time. I blast the music and let my mind roam, turning over each and every thought that flutters into it. Rather than trying to quiet the incessant chatter that goes on in the back of my brain throughout the day, my commute to and from work is where I let it all go. I indulge in the inner monologue of my random thoughts, see where they go, and let them play themselves out.
On one such drive home a couple of days ago, I found myself getting caught up in a tornado of chaotic thinking. While there had been calm and peace of mind when leaving the office a few minutes earlier, suddenly I was worried about everything. I was thinking in extremes, blowing things way out of proportion, and I suddenly felt like life was completely out of my control.
Have you ever experienced something like that? A veritable freak-out on as simple a thing as a drive home from work?
At that very moment, when it felt as though things were just so entirely unmanageable, a light bulb went on. It was like a thousand tiny jigsaw puzzle pieces fell into place, forming a complete picture, and I realized that what I was experiencing was completely my own doing.
If I made it, I can stop it.
In that moment, I realized I was giving up all of my power to fear. I was turning my energy over to this fear that I am running out of time- that I am too late in beginning what I’ve started becoming. But, how can I be too late when I only just realized what I want?
Ambition is a tricky thing. It is absolutely necessary in order to achieve success, but it breeds discontent. The cost that I pay for my own ambition is that I am never quite happy with what I have. I work really hard to get to where I want to be, and then instead of celebrating once I get there, I immediately focus on the next step. In the same moment that I accomplish something, I move on from it. To the next goal. To the next big thing.
I am content to be discontent, because in the past that is how I’ve functioned best. Knowing there is something more out there for me to achieve, something resting just outside of my current reach, is how I’ve motivated myself. This is how I’ve challenged myself, how I’ve picked myself up after I’ve fallen, and how I’ve focused my drive.
This strategy presents two major problems. First- in not celebrating my successes I marginalize my achievements. In doing so, I feed into this idea that who I am, all of me at this very moment, is somehow not enough.
Second- I create an overwhelming fear that no matter how hard I work, no matter how much effort I put into creating the changes I want to see in my life, I will never achieve the things I dream of.
Our twenties are an incredibly important phase in our lives. These are the years for us to invest in ourselves, discover our passions, and make major life decisions. The choices that we are making as twenty-somethings will directly affect our future. The options of where we may go are unlimited, the world really is our oyster, but ultimately we must choose what we want and where we want to go.
To summarize: life at this moment consists of an unlimited number of choices that, once made, will shape me into who I am destined to become.
Could there be anything more intimidating?
All that possibility excites me, and it also terrifies me. It makes me want to be better and to do better. I want to make all the right choices, and I want to make them all right now. I have never felt so full of potential, and simultaneously so afraid that I will not live up to it.
That fear will be my undoing. That fear is what will, single-handedly, keep me from achieving all that I am capable of. It will tell me that I am not smart enough, not skilled enough, not creative enough, simply not enough, to do what I want to do. That fear is what will keep me from promotions, from taking necessary risks, and from achieving greatness. It will keep me firmly rooted in my comfort zone.
At its core, my fear is that I will be discovered for what I truly am or called out as a fake. I am scared that I think I am capable of more than I truly am- that I should be more realistic about my limitations. I am terrified of failing, or even worse, never being given the chance to fail at something great because no one deems me worthy of being given the chance to try.
This fear comes from an old story. It is rooted in a past me, a me that no longer exists, a me that I have worked hard to say goodbye to. At twenty-something, at thirty-something, at any-something, we all are capable of overcoming our limitations. We can challenge our fears, change our stories, and become our best selves.
We only need one yes out of a million no’s, only one door to open after running face first into a thousand closed ones, or only one little stroke of luck to fall our way to transform everything.
I need to do less worrying about the small things, and more celebrating. I need to make an effort to recognize my accomplishments, rather than minimalizing them. It minimalizing the achievements, I minimalize myself. I am striving to accept myself, all of me at this very moment, as being enough. I am making an active effort to stop feeding the chaos tornado in my head, and embracing the power of choice. Everything is a choice- it is up to us as to which direction we want to go with it.
It won’t be easy. It won’t be neat and tidy. It certainly won’t be perfect. But, there isn’t time for doubt. There isn’t time to waste our emotions, our potential, our lives on worrying about failing and making the wrong choices. You have to follow your passions, chase your happiness, and embrace the life you are creating.
I am, and will always be, a work in progress. Which is pretty perfect, because I like a challenge.