You feel uncertain and anxious but it’s not your fault. You are however the only one that can get you out of that trap, but to do that you don’t need to change yourself, you just have to recognise that the only reason you feel uncertain is because long before you, humans created language and we used words to assemble ideas of right and wrong (as opposed to what we personally preferred). For the first time there was a way for a human being to be unacceptable.
In school you were taught this correct thing and that correct thing and you got big red X’s for anything that wasn’t correct. The problem is, later in life it turns out those same educational experiences taught you to always look for answers outside of yourself. A line was drawn between you and your natural wisdom. You were inadvertently taught to seek external approval, meaning you literally, subconsciously learned not to trust yourself, like a mechanic trusting a computerised scanner over something obvious to their own eyes and ears.
So here’s your lifelong problem; you spend your whole life searching for the parts that will make up a healthy you when you were whole right right the start. Yes you might need to add to some knowledge to do some specific thing, but after that you have to trust yourself in life. It’s like that trust exercise where one person falls backward, counting on the person behind them to catch them? This is like that except you’re both people. You need to trust you. You just also have to remember that sometimes even the catching part of you also falls. It just goes like that sometimes. For everyone.
Your life isn’t over. It hasn’t even started. Understand that the world still has a lot of cool directions to go. That’s all highly acclaimed art and science are; it’s art that not only was fantastic from a craftsmanship perspective, it’s the stuff that is more like a philosophical treatise, like when Picasso created cubism. Most breakthrough science entails uncovering new knowledge that couldn’t possibly have been learned by looking at what already existed. We must have faith in the infinite nature of the universe. Trust me, if you had a better appreciation for how vast it is you’d feel more comfortable with the idea that it has enough space even for you to be a genius.
What’s you being your own genius look like? I dunno, maybe you’re a working mother who deeply would rather stay home and raise your kids like you were raised, but you and your husband need the money for the mortgage, plus if you’re not working then other women will think you’ve lost your mojo or something. But think about it: these are your kids and they’re only kids a short time. Better you shape a tree when it’s young. It’s not crazy to prioritise family over work, but how brave have you been about making something work?
Can your ego accept a smaller house and the lower payments that would allow you to be a stay-at-home mom? Could you trade the joy of what feels natural and the upsides to your kids for whatever thought-based reputation you have among your friends and co-workers? Is what anyone thinks of your decisions really important when those judgments only remain place in the conscious of often unimportant people for a short time?
You can afford to be braver. We all have plenty of headroom in that regard. But you can’t second-guess yourself using egocentric, word-based thought because if you’re scared you’ll always be able to rationalise your decision not to take action. You are not that voice. That voice is just something you do instead of taking action.
As I’ve written about before, there’s a guy whose ultra-religious family lead him to rebel by creating super creepy art featuring blood and skulls and snakes and things and he’s rich and lives in a castle and has superstar clients. What would you have done if that’s what you wanted to do? Surely you have an easier calling being a stay-at-home mom, or whatever your authentic choice yours is. Just don’t expect to live in a castle, because that’s not the point. The point is that he’s happy with his life and he does what moves him and somehow that either works out to be wonderful or it’s some kind of valuable lesson. Either way you win.
Stop worrying and create more original living in your life. You don’t have to read the right book or take the right class or meet the right person or get the right job; you just have to be yourself and your place in the world will be known. And then wherever you are you’ll always feel comfortable because you’ll always be comfortable with yourself.
Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.