Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task. ~William James

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

On Backing Down, Pulling Out, and Other Failures of Nerve

I'm beginning to see that chickening out, at least in some arenas, may be a behavior I can no longer afford.  

My mother blames our Irish genes for our fearful world view.  My therapist notes the many stressors in my life, past and present.  Sociologists might point out the effects of status inconsistency on a woman raised in a period of dormant feminism who has aspired to typically male professional positions.  But whatever the cause, I have spent too much of my life cowering.

I can remember as a child following a long line of nervy kids up the ladder to the high dive platform.  And slithering past others on my way back down, having balked at the moment of truth.  As an adult, I have been known to back down freeway entrance ramps that I had mistakenly entered, rather than face the terror of expressway driving.  I have cancelled trips and turned down jobs, always for good reason, but often a part of me has breathed a huge sigh of relief at not having to face those unknowns.

Of course, completing a triathlon was a big countermove.  As was my brother-in-law's skirmish with skydiving.  I should say, however, that I don't intend to take on all challenges to my knocking knees, just for the sake of vanquishing fear.  Nor do I expect to become fearless.  And just for the record, don't look for me to be tumbling out of the sky any time soon, with or without parachute.

But I do need to keep up the campaign, to, as Eleanor Roosevelt so wisely instructed, "[d]o one thing every day that scares [me]."  Or, I would add, that seems hard, for whatever reason.  That should be relatively easy to achieve at this point, since I am in a particularly fearful and easily overwhelmed state just now.  So today I will spend two hours working on my novel (yikes!), and sign up for a 5K race in three weeks (eek!).   A two-fer, to make up for previous laxity.

And tomorrow?  One more as yet undetermined small step for Mary, one giant leap for chicken-kind. . . 

No comments:

Post a Comment