This Express Train Makes No Stops

4 trainDo you ever have the sneaking suspicion, Modern Philosophers, that you are capable of doing so much more, but you’re simply too afraid of failure to test that theory?

Deep Thoughts about this have been bouncing around in my head ever since I returned to The House on the Hill from my morning run.

For once, my run did more than just get my heart racing and my sweat glands working overtime.  It put my brain on a treadmill and hasn’t allowed it to slow the pace.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I finally pushed myself to run 4 miles after puttering around with 3 mile runs and seeing no progress with my weight loss.  I didn’t think my body was ready yet for the increase in mileage, but I’d finally gotten so fed up with my stupid excuses that I just went for it.

Today, I thought I’d try 4 miles again, but I was unsure how my body would respond on a second consecutive hot morning.  My goal was to just try to go a little further than I did yesterday before I stopped to walk for the first time.  Maybe even take less walking breaks if I could handle it.

You know what happened?  I went the entire 4 miles without stopping to walk, and lopped over two minutes off of yesterday’s time.  So why the hell have I been so reluctant to run 4 miles if my body was clearly up to the challenge?

Failed TestI blame it all on my Fear of Failure.

Unlike some people who are in total denial about having issues, I am well aware of my shortcomings.

My problem, Modern Philosophers, is that I am too afraid to do anything to fix what I know is wrong.

I was raised by an Evil Step Mother who was never satisfied with my achievements.  When I got a 99 on a test, she demanded to know why I didn’t get 100.  She told me that if I didn’t get a full scholarship to high school, I was going to have to attend the local public high school with all the burnouts.  She demanded perfection, and I did everything I could to attain that goal.

Looking back at it now as a Modern Philosopher, rather than as a frightened Catholic School Boy, I suppose the goal of this psychological browbeating was to push me to be an overachiever.

However, it ended up having a completely different effect on my young, impressionable mind.  It made me fear failure so much that it caused me to shy away from challenges and only undertake things that I knew I could master.

safety“Better safe than sorry” became my philosophy, and this would explain why I’ve never gone for broke and chased my screenwriting dream full time.  There is a mortgage to pay, a need to keep food in the fridge and a furnace that is forever demanding expensive heating oil during Maine’s harsh winters.  That means I need a steady paycheck.

Her demand for perfection also made me rebel once I went off to college and was out from under her thumb.  I didn’t want to push myself anymore.  I was so tired of being the nerdy loner who spent all his time studying.  I just wanted to be a regular guy who had friends and could get up the courage to talk to girls.

The pressure of the pursuit of perfection broke my spirit, Modern Philosophers.

Yes, I will admit that some of what my Evil Step Mother demanded has come in handy in my adult life.  I’ve never given up on being a writer.  I might be too afraid to risk it all and chase that dream full time, but I have made more of my writing career than I know she ever expected of me.

Maybe I never give up because I want to prove to her that I am a writer.  She told me to pursue an accounting degree because I was good at math, and I made it clear that I was going to NYU because I was good at writing.

Perhaps I got through my divorce and figured out how to survive in Maine with no friends and a sudden need to pay the mortgage on my own because she had gotten me so used to thriving as a reclusive loner.

go-for-itThe point of all this rambling, though, Modern Philosophers (and thank you for indulging me for this long) is that I ran 4 miles today without stopping.

Sunday is when I usually post my advice column, so I advise you to push aside that Fear of Failure and just go for it.

Of course, I’m not saying drop everything in pursuit of that dream, but perhaps go for it in metaphorical 4 mile chunks.

Find a way to drown out that voice in your head that is forever telling you to play it safe, and take a chance once in awhile.

Life is what you make it, Modern Philosophers.  Don’t be like me and make it about being a slave to a way of thinking I should have rejected ages ago.

It’s never too late for a fresh start.  Four miles isn’t as imposing as you think…

About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
This entry was posted in Fitness, Humor, Philosophy, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to This Express Train Makes No Stops

  1. Such similarities. “Better safe than sorry” was ingrained in my head as well, until I kicked that motto out of my life last year. All it did was hold me back. Do you think it’s connected to the Catholic guilt thing?

    Congrats on that break-through. 🙂

  2. donedreaming says:

    My Mother was a teacher so any work I brought home got graded again, no points for imagination just a lesson in correct use of grammar and punctuation. Killed my creativity at 6 years old along with most of my confidence. A couple of months ago I read something I wanted to try – develop a complete disregard for where your abilities end and try to do things you are incapable of. Sounded like good advice to me so here’s to incapabilities and stuff what anyone else thinks!!

  3. Annie Emmy Evans says:

    Oh, this is so totally the same problem I have. I’m just getting rid of it now. So glad I’m not the only freak out there. 🙂

  4. Val Boyko says:

    Congrats Austin! One more day and I might join you 🙂

  5. jan says:

    Well, I can’t run four miles (bad knees from playing soccer) but writers do have to get used to making fresh starts!

  6. jacobemet says:

    Austin, you’re doing it. You’re doing it! You’re succeeding now. You’re progressing now. You’re in the midst of achieving your goals now. The future you thanks you! This is only the continuation of your inspirational story.
    Go get em, Tiger!

  7. Blake Standard says:

    Congrats on hitting 4 miles! I am of the mind that after a certain distance one can just run and run. It becomes more of a matter of not getting bored.

  8. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:

  9. This post resonates…the fear of failure theme…you are absolutely a gifted writer and thinker and communicator….your dreams are going to come true…and more…I just know it…thank you for the inspiration…thanks for sharing 🙂

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