“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson
I’ve always wanted to identify with this quote, but I never have. In fact, my deepest fear really is that I’m inadequate (well, I don’t know if we could really say it’s my deepest fear, but it’s up there among the top few). I’ve envied people who worry instead that they are more amazing than they “should” be. I wish that was my fear, the thing that kept me from beginning anything. At least that would be surmountable.
Instead, I keep myself from starting things because I worry I won’t do it right. Maybe it stems from the fact that, as sad as it is, I’ve never been naturally good at anything. I know there’s no shame in needing to work hard to succeed, but it would be nice not to have to.
Blogging is a good example. People write about getting “only” three or four comments on a post, and for me getting even one comment is huge. I understand the effort that goes into having a “successful” (or even remotely read) blog, but I can’t make myself do it. What if it still doesn’t work and I’m just a failure? What if I get mean comments and insults? What if the people in my “real life” aren’t comfortable with me having a blog? Instead of dealing with any of those possibilities, I just… don’t do anything.
It’s the same with being healthy. I know how. I know I probably could do it. But what if I work out every day and track my calories and am miserable yet I don’t lose any weight? What if I work as hard as I can to get my body in its best shape, and that still isn’t where I want it to be?
And I wrote an article recently. A former professor wanted me to write a brief first-person article about my experience being apprehended by the police in Rome. He asked me this on Juny 25th and I sent it to him today. It does not take that many weeks to write a one-page article. But every time I started to write, all I could think was that I’m not good enough, that there was nothing I could do that would compare to the talents of others, that I shouldn’t even bother. Last night I shared it with a few people for editing and the absolute terror I felt at opening their reply emails was really quite pathetic. I literally expected them to say it was terrible, the worst thing ever, that I should just give up on life because my writing skills are so poor.
Obviously, no one said that. I sent the article to my former professor today, and right now I’m more curious than worried about what he’ll say. He’s very blunt and to-the-point so if it sucks, he’ll let me know, and I’m curious what he’ll pick apart. In the meantime, I’m going to be happy that I bit the bullet and wrote the darn thing, even though it took a lot of false starts.
Indeed, who am I to be “brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” I don’t know; maybe I’m none of those things. But holding myself back from life solely because I’m afraid I’m not those things is no way to live. There are things that I want, and even if they don’t come easily and naturally, it doesn’t mean I can’t or shouldn’t have them. I may have to go through a lot of inadequacy and embarrassment to get those things, but maybe when I do, I’ll appreciate it all the more.