I’ll start by saying I’ve had it good. I’ve had it very good in life. And perhaps, that is part of my problem.
I struggle with dealing with failure, or perceived failure and I think a big part of that has to do with the fact that I haven’t failed very much in my life.
My life—in terms of my relationships with other people and work have gone smoothly for the most.
But I have never quite been able to shake off the clench of anxiety and the constant anticipation of something bad that is to come.
We are the kind of people who’ve known exactly what schools we wanted to attend when we were twelve, the kind of people who schedule their days and set reminders for themselves even on the weekends, the people who -and I quote someone I recently had a conversation with- “seem to have it all together”.
Why then are we, simply put, terrified?
I was rejected after a final job interview recently—and it left me reeling. I was upset, and disproportionately so. I have failed so little in my life, that rejection, an entirely normal part of growing up, was enough to tip me over.
I became a regular reader of circular Thought Catalog articles targeted at fifteen-year-old girls and started listening to hymns from my secondary school days. ( I am a seasonal agnostic of sorts, but that’s a story for another day.)
It was incredibly silly, but also telling.
In that moment I realized that I don’t understand how to be vulnerable. I talk about embracing vulnerability a lot, but I think I’ve gotten it all wrong.
I have jumped through the hoops well enough such that I’ve never had to think too hard about what the next step or the next stage in my life should be, and that is my privilege. But now that I’m leaving university and can do anything I want, I don’t know how to go make choices. I don’t know what it means to live with uncertainty. I have skipped along from one thing to the next, quite contentedly so far, but now it is time to lean into the discomfort a little.
Against all my impulses, I made the choice to seek an internship instead of applying for a full-time job. I want to actively resist the choice to do what makes me feel so secure. I think of it as a deliberate disciplining of the mind. It may not sound like a big deal to some, but to me it’s terrifying. Maybe, a lot of the stories I tell are about being petrified about uncertainty—and that’s probably telling of the narrowness of my experiences.
As a person who does creative work though, I think this “sitting”- that’s what I’m calling this self-imposed discomfort- is necessary. I hope that this “sitting” will help me to do better work, and to be a more empathetic person. I’d like to think I’m doing myself a kindness—giving myself more room to fall, to change my mind and most of all to be gentler towards myself. I know that if I don’t learn this now, I’m going to be miserable for the rest of my life. Wish me luck.
"It is our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities."