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?
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.
“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.
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…