The mind is a powerful thing, and I wish it would shut up.

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately in light of the inevitable changes that are headed my way in the next year or two. And I feel like I keep flip-flopping between hippie-like thoughts about positive energy, positive language, positive thinking… and the more destructive thoughts of inferiority while dissecting every personality trait I have that could ultimately lead to my failure. ‘Cause that’s helpful.

As we’ve been doing a lot lately, John and I were talking about the schools we plan on applying to and what pursuing such paths could mean for each of us. He started to talk about some of the ideas he’s had in the back of his mind and has always had in the back of his mind and how sometimes these things keep him up at night. And as he was talking, I had a thought that brought this dread in the pit of my stomach. I thought, I’m a writer. I should have this problem. But I don’t have ideas that keep me up at night. I have allergies, insomnia, and a brain that won’t shut up about trivial shit that keep me up at night, but I don’t have ideas that keep me up at night. What’s wrong with me?

There’s that inferiority thing again.

Sometimes, it can be really hard for me to clear negative thoughts like this out of my head. At night especially, I tend to imagine worst-case scenarios without even realizing I’m doing it. It’s almost as if I have to play something out in my head– maybe purge the bad thoughts?– before I can move on and remind myself that I’m thinking like a crazy person. It’s not that I believe these bad things will actually happen, but my mind still goes there anyway. And I’ve got to think that’s holding me back. Just like the thoughts of whether I have what it takes to pursue writing as a career do. Comparing myself to other writers. Even crazier still, comparing myself to people who are experts at something they’ve been doing for a long time– piano for example! Anything!– and thinking how I’ll never be as good as them. What. the. hell. Shut up, brain!

One thought I expressed while talking with John last night, and this is a positive one, is that I’d like to dedicate more time to learning new things. I read a quote within the past week or so (and I wish I could remember where it was from) that basically said this: there are few people who are true geniuses, ultimate virtuosos, and supreme experts at a single thing. Whether it’s a guitar god, visionary architect, or whatever. These people are to be admired, for sure. Sadly, not everyone has the capacity for such intense levels of skills. If so, I too would be a guitar god(dess). But we’re all capable at being fairly talented at many things. The term “jack-of-all-trades”? We can all accomplish some level of that, if we try. Many of us don’t, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.

Speaking of guitar gods, we were watching a documentary recently called It Might Get Loud, which features Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White. Seeing these three very different musicians just sit around, talk, and teach each other how to play a few songs was pretty special. And the dorky grin Jack White had on his face as Jimmy Page played “Whole Lotta Love” for him was priceless. When they focused on Jack a bit, and the White Stripes in particular, I watched in awe as Meg White played the drums and had a revelation (years after they formed and awhile after they parted ways) that she is, simply put, a badass. In that moment, I wanted to do exactly what she was doing. Screw it! I still do. I want to take drum lessons. Maybe hitting things would be therapeutic.

And why shouldn’t I? I should take the time to learn something new like drums, or piano, or baking a cheesecake, or doing taxes. I did the latter for the first time this year, so there’s something new. If I don’t get audited, then it was a success!

I want to challenge myself more. But to do so will be a challenge mentally, as well. Trying new things leaves a lot of room for failure, a lot of room for negative thoughts of I can’t do it or someone else does it better than I can. But the fact is, that’s true about everything we do or try, and for me, that includes writing. Yeah, I might be somewhat lacking in an investigative drive or churning out ideas one after the other. But if I focus on that, I won’t get ahead at all. I’ll remain paralyzed in the fear of failure and maybe not even get into school. Not for lack of talent, but a lack of trying. I don’t want to be that person. I can’t afford to have that kind of regret. I need more hippie “positive energy” thoughts. So I’ll work on it. I am working on it.

For some inspiration, watch these videos which I found courtesy of Lena from Musing(s). Somehow, I don’t think this guy let fear of the unknown stop him from doing some pretty cool stuff.

Comments

  1. I’m so glad you posted those videos, I watched them all multiple times when my friend shared them with me awhile back, but then I totally forgot about them, and they’re exactly what I need right now. Plus, that guy is such a hunkahunka.

    I think you’d enjoy reading this post: http://www.yesandyes.org/2012/03/in-which-i-try-to-be-mediocre-rather.html

    And lastly, I totally feel ya, sista. Thoughts of “…but I’ll never be the best at it” keep me from doing a great many things. It’s like I want to be world famous at every possible skill, and if I can’t be, then the only other alternative is to mope around in my bed with the covers pulled up to my chin. A quote that I really like, and that I’ve been wanting to write a post about (I think I needed this post to inspire me to finally do it, so thanks!) is: “Someone else’s success is not your failure.” Simple and to the point, and so true. When I see other people, especially people my age, doing things I want to be doing and reaching a higher level of “success” than me, instead of being happy for them and inspired to keep going, I end up getting jealous and thinking, “Welp, time to give up I guess”. It’s been a mental habit I’ve been working on for the past few months, and I feel like I’m making progress, but it still happens quite a bit. Great post, and you are not alone =]

    • Oooh, that article… I LOVE it! That will be my mindset from now on. The question is: what to start not sucking at first?!

      It really is easier to be depressed and hide under the covers, or be jealous of those who seem to be doing so much more than we are. But that quote is absolutely true. Other people’s success has nothing to do with us, but it SHOULD inspire us. I need to pinch myself every time I start having a negative thought and put a positive spin on it instead.

      I’m glad to know I’m not alone. :)

  2. Leave my brain alone! How are you inside my head?!
    Seriously, though, I’ve been there. I am there. Constantly. My brain won’t shut up either, and it’s always right as I’m trying to fall asleep. Maybe our brains should get together for coffee or something and leave us the hell alone while we sleep.

  3. I agree with GurlNxtDoor, are you me??
    My subconscious is my worst enemy. It taunts me constantly. But I’ve learned to slowly ignore it. Sometimes I’ll arm myself with tons of inspirational quotes and I’m all “TAKE THAT SUBSCONSCIOUS. YOU CAN’T BREAK ME.” And sometimes it works. That’s when I try the jack of all trades thing and attempt to be just okay at a lot of things. Other times I give up and just berate myself while I mope. It’s a vicious cycle.

    • I know what you mean about the vicious cycle. It’s like the bad thoughts have to come in and balance out all the good, happy ones for the sake of… I don’t know what.

  4. Thank you! Better to challenge ourselves to poop in the potty rather than sit in shit the rest of our lives. Right? Right?! I think I just made up a quote there. I think I’ll tweet it.

  5. aww, I’m sorry that I didn’t call you back today. But now when I do we can talk about all of this lovely stuff. Ideeeeers!

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