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Thoughts on Fear, the Year Behind, and the Year Ahead

Friday, January 1, 2016

It's the waning days of the year as I write this post, gathered from scraps of paper pilfered from work. By the time anyone reads this, it will already be next year, and perhaps everyone will be tired of "end of the year" posts, and no one will read this. I'm oddly okay with that; I think this post is a little more personal than I usually get- so if it remains a shout into the void, I won't be too bothered. 

I've been reflecting a lot recently, both on the past year and the growth I've experienced as an individual. 2015 wasn't what I was hoping it would be- but then, what year is? We all start with such high expectations, only for life to curve in ways we can't see. Some years we miss the turn, and crash in a ditch among brambles and poison ivy, but if we are lucky, we have a team who will help get us out of the ditch and back onto the road.

Most of my years have had more crashes than successful turns, but I've been practicing my driving, and perhaps I was simply luckier this year, but I feel that I was able to navigate the turns a little better than last time. I'm afraid just typing that sentence- as though expressing satisfaction with how I've grown as a person will invite terrible things into my life- a kind of magical thinking I'm prone to and that I'm getting very, very tired of. 

That is what I want from 2016- to learn how to live despite my fear.

~

I've been reading two books lately that are definitely influencing me- Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Both are quite interesting on their own, but together seem to have a synergistic effect- because both are about how to shed shackles of fear and try to live the life you want.

In 2015 I only just began to realize how much fear controls my decisions- fear of what? Fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, fear of pain, hurt, and a thousand other tiny things that all add up to a giant, hulking monster of an emotion. Fear is a reptilian thing- it lives in the part of our brain that was there before the meteor, and all of our self-awareness and reasoning is a scaffold that was built on this calcified emotion.

How do you fight something this essential to how we operate? How do you reclaim the parts of yourself that you value- the bits on the scaffold- from something that lurks, largely ignored, below the surface of your consciousness?

I guess you start by being aware.

~

Awareness is a funny thing; for me, it takes ages to develop any sort of awareness about anything. Situations, relationships, how I feel about things- I tend to live so obliviously that it's kind of a miracle I'm still alive. 

(But am I truly oblivious? Or is that something I cling to subconsciously, as a way to justify my actions?)

In 2015 I slowly learned a lot about myself- some good, some not so good- but forgive me if I want to share only the good parts with you. Some things I need to keep to myself, if only for my own sanity. I am not trying to be a tease, or withholding- some knowledge takes time to process before you can let it out into the world, whether in books or essays or confessions. 

Objectively speaking, 2015 was a dismal year for my ambition of being an author. I sent my queries to so, so many agents- the current count is 145. And do you know how many offers of rep I've gotten?

0.

That's quite the number.

It's tempting to think of that time and effort as being wasted. When I look at the pie chart on QueryTracker, it's enough to make me wonder if perhaps I'm a tad delusional? Why would I keep trying in the face of overwhelming evidence that this isn't working?

Well, that's one of the things I learned about myself in 2015: that I'm capable of facing the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune- and will keep trying anyway.

I didn't used to be this way; I used to think of myself as being a quitter, who gives up at the first sign of adversity. Some of this is just who I am; but a lot of this, I've learned, is because of how my brain is wired. ADHD coupled with MDD and OCD is quite the motivation-killer. I have a few more roadblocks than other people, but this doesn't mean I'm defective. It just means that I have to take this into account when going about my life.

That's another thing I learned in 2015- how to work with my limitations.

My limitations are many. I'm disorganized; I'm chronically late; I'm not good at compromising; I let my emotional state dictate far too many of my actions. I could go on, but then it would be 2017 and I'd still be writing this post. 

I feel that once you're aware of your limitations and how they effect how you treat others, you can do 2 things: you can ignore them, and continue as you always have.

Or you can change the outcome.

~

For 2016 I have a few more mundane goals: to rebrand my blog and launch it under my own domain; to finish my current novel; to branch out into video production and explore my passion for it. All of these things will be difficult; they will require many changes on my part. But if I am to at least try to pursue the life I want, I need to be willing to make the changes necessary for this. I already know the consequences of continuing as I always have: a life I'm not happy with. We only get this one life, and the idea of spending it not doing what I love is the saddest, most terrifying thing I can think of.

I hope anyone who reads this is able to spend 2016 building to live the life they want. There will be curves and roadblocks and detours. There may be an unforeseen crash or two. But I hope I get back on the road, and I hope you do, too.

~

My thoughts on all of this- fear, awareness, limitations- are still murky and will change over time. This is by no means a definitive post on the matter. But I think that if there is one thing I want to resolve to do in 2016, it's to be aware of my fear, how it limits me, and how I can overcome it to achieve the life I want.

There are a lot of changes that would need to be done for this- mindset changes, daily routine changes, changes that I don't even foresee yet- and this is where it all has the potential to break down. Change is one of the hardest things to deal with- yet, as Octavia Butler so brilliantly noted, "The only lasting truth is Change". 

Change is another thing I'm afraid of. One of my limitations is that I don't react well to it. I'm aware of this.

Time to change it.

2 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this post Felicity like yourself I had a really tough time last year well the last 19 months really but last year was the worst year of my life so far.
    I'm really hoping 2016 will be my chance to make changes to my life actually writing this blog in March last year has helped me so much and introduced me to the blogging community which I am incredibly grateful for.
    I am such a perfectionist I hate the fear of failing at things that I try especially new things I think about what if I fail all the time what will people think but does that really matter?
    I don't think it does especially if they are strangers that you will never come across again in your lifetime so in 2016 I am definitely going to try and change this.

    I've just come across your blog now I am looking forward to reading some more of your posts.

    Andrea
    beautywithandrea36.blogspots.co.uk

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    Replies
    1. Andrea,

      I'm so sorry to hear your past year has been tough! I hope 2016 is my year too; I think if we start small with our changes hopefully they'll accumulate into bigger ones.

      That's awesome that your blog has been able to bring so much positivity into your life! The blogging community can be such an amazing space.

      Yeah, I'm a perfectionist too, and I'm trying to learn to let go of that. It's so hard though :s. I've gotten better at not caring what other people think as I get older, but learning to not care so much about what my negative side thinks is much harder, you know?

      I've looked through your blog too and I really like what I see so far! I've followed you on Bloglovin' and can't wait to read more of your posts!

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