Stepping Out

Caution is natural, but fear is not. Do not give into fear, yet do not abandon caution. It is a balancing act. Caution is what causes you to look both ways before crossing the street. Fear is what keeps you frozen on the curb forever. You know the difference. You can feel it.          Neale Donald Walsch

I have wanted to write from a young age. I remember in my early twenties I wanted to write the great Canadian novel, be the next Mordecai Richler or Margaret Atwood. I did not and, therefore, am not. I made a few feeble attempts at writing over the years, but became involved in other things and pushed writing aside. Well over thirty years have passed and I am still standing on the side of the road looking longingly over to the other side.

I got my PhD in making up excuses. I can say the time isn’t right. I don’t have the time. I am waiting for the right inspiration or the muse to come to get me to write. Tomorrow I will start. And of course, I do nothing. And with the passing of years there is always another excuse for putting things off, to the point where it seems it was a youthful dream that was never to be fulfilled in the first place. Only it’s still there.

I am unmoved on one side of the street not because I am cautious but because I am fearful. I keep looking both ways and even if there is no traffic, I look again and don’t take the first step. What are those fears? Fear of failure, fear that I am not good enough, fear that people won’t like it or like me. There are so many fears that keep my from embarking on this journey including the fear that I may even be successful.

Over the past 18 months I have been pushing my fears aside and sharing myself, my thoughts and my feeling in this blog. It is a slow beginning but it is a step to crossing that road to the other side. This morning I sent out a submission of a short story I have been working on. Will it be accepted and published? I don’t know. I am coming to terms with my fears. I see fear as a bad habit that I want to overcome if I want to move forward.

I am learning to step forward in trust; trust in myself and my abilities. If blog writing has taught me anything it is that I do have a talent for putting words together that can touch people and that my experience and thoughts are those shared by many others. I don’t think that my life is by any means exemplary, I’m just another guy who is actively seeking my truth and looking for answers. And my answer this week is that I need to walk forward and cross the street.

I have committed myself to continue writing my blog for the next year. It helps to keep me grounded and working my recovery program. I believe in my own program of Search, Learn, Grow, Share and Repeat. I have a couple of creative writing projects to move forward on. Perhaps you have a few things that you are wishing to try but are have been standing at the side of the road for as many years as I have. We are not alone. I am beginning to cross the road. Why don’t we walk together.

automatic city control crossing

Photo by on

Seeking Approval

I spent the better part of my whole life seeking the approval others. I liked the praise of others for the things that I had done. From an early age I wanted others to like me and so I did what I could to keep everyone happy. I did well in school and that pleased my parents and my teachers. It didn’t always win the approval of classmates but they weren’t that important in my life, they weren’t people of influence.

So I learned very early on how to people please. I also learned to be very good at certain things so that they would turn out a certain way and others would like the results and I became a perfectionist. In high school, university, work life and relationships I sought, I craved approval.

I basically stayed that way until I came into recovery. With the help of the Steps of my program I was able to dissect my perfectionist attitude and see that at its root was pleasing people: seeking approval because deep down I didn’t think I was likable enough. I had low self esteem. I didn’t feel that I was, of myself, worthy of regard, like or love. I felt I had to earn it by doing things that others wanted me to do.

As a result, I didn’t try a lot of things because someone else might not approve. If I didn’t think I could pull it off ‘perfectly’, I wouldn’t even start. I placed impossibly high standards upon myself and my abilities: anything less than perfection was a failure. I had dreams of writing the next best selling novel, but I knew that was so doubtful that I gave up before I began. I wasn’t going to be the next Faulkner or Hemingway or Steinbeck, then why bother? I damned myself before I began.

My program has taught me that life is a process. It starts with me being me. It starts with me accepting myself as I am and learning to love that self. I am learning that I am enough. I don’t need the approval of others, I only need to love me. I have nothing to prove, nothing to earn. Whether you like me or not is really none of my concern. I have to be who I am.

I’m still working on it. I still want others to like me and what I do, but it’s not so important to me. I try to impress the ‘right’ people, but now I catch myself and know that I am enough. If it pleases you, that’s very nice, but it’s not as vital to me as it used to be. I am learning to say yes to things that I wouldn’t have done in the past because it is an opportunity for personal growth and understanding regardless of how well I do it. I guess I’m learning what it means to be leave my adolescence behind and become a human adult. One step at a time, and one day at a time.