Today, I’ve been thinking about forward motion. I don’t mean like in a car or on a horse or even walking along, although I suppose moving forward is a pretty good thing, no matter how you do it. I’m thinking more about the way we keep on changing and growing as people by learning or trying new things. In a way, it’s kind of a forward motion of the soul, although I suppose that sounds pretty cheesy.
Trying new things is hard. It’s scary. With every attempt, there is a very real risk of failure. Sometimes, you end up feeling like a fool. Sometimes, you end up looking like a fool. I’m not sure which of those things is worse. I think that, often, it feels safer and easier to keep things the way that they are. You know, to guard the status quo, so to speak.
And yet, if we never try new things … if we never reach past our comfortable boundaries … if we never strive … if we never fail … Well, we just kind of stop, don’t we? We might be comfortable and secure in where we are at that particular moment in time, but we won’t ever be more. We won’t continue growing or learning. We won’t ever manage to be the best that we can be. We may not even manage to figure out what that “best” is.
There are so many ways in which I find myself holding back. I see it often in my writing struggles. There is a part of me — a very small part that lives somewhere deep inside of me — that is confident and bold and full of courage. That little part of me knows I can craft the most wonderful story, something that people will love and want to read, something that will feel like the most amazing adventure. And yet, I continue to struggle with even making myself sit down to put words on paper. I know I’m holding back. I feel it. And yet, I don’t know why. Fear is part of it: the fear of failure. What if my bold and courageous voice is wrong?
Actually, that’s a great question, isn’t it? What if my bold and courageous voice is wrong? What if I write my whole story and it’s horrible or stupid or people hate it? So. What? It’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t make ME a failure. It just means I tried something that didn’t work out like I had planned.
The true failure is not trying at all. When I hold myself back out of fear … that’s when I have failed. I need to keep repeating this to myself as I sit in front of my computer and as I stare at the blinking cursor. I need to repeat it to myself as I feel the fear take hold of me and stifle the words that live in my imagination. It’s all right to fail. It’s not all right to stop trying. These are the words by which I need to live.