Right before I graduated from college, I made a few promises to better myself. I promised I’d start freelancing and build a portfolio that could land me a writing job at one of my dream publications. I promised I’d work on honing my skill set and learn as many new skills and programs as possible to make me a more competitive and well-rounded job candidate. I promised to refrain from getting too comfortable in my current situation and keep my eye on what I wanted in the long run. Hell, I even promised myself that I’d run a half marathon.
7 months have passed since then, and I’ve failed to follow through any of these promises—except the half marathon. I haven’t picked up any new skills. I haven’t become a prolific freelance writer. I’ve submitted one freelance pitch in total, which was promptly rejected. I’ve grown comfortable and apathetic and have completely lost sight of what I want in the long run, and as much as I want to follow through on these promises, I realize with each passing day how unlikely I am to do so.
It’s frustrating to have a desire to do better, but an inability to follow through. In my mind, I know what I need to do, but I can’t bring myself to do any of those things. I find myself floating through each day, going through the motions hoping I’ll somehow end up at the place I want to be, unsure of what that place even is. I wake up, go to work, hit the gym, come home, and repeat. Every time I try to write or do something outside of my routine, I find myself incapable of focusing or seeing things through. I just crumble under the overwhelming mix of fear and apathy that has taken over me. It’s like I’m trapped inside my own mind and don’t know the way out, caught between wanting something more and feeling like I can never have that.
With each passing day, I feel a little farther away from the life I want to have. Some days I feel so far away that I don’t know what that life even is, or if it’s possible to achieve. Most days I’m content with settling. I’m content with just living my life on autopilot because it’s easier. I’m content with sitting still and hoping things will somehow work out. But then there are moments when I remember how much I want to do with my life. Moments when that passion sparks inside me and reminds me of how happy I could be if I just poured my heart and soul into the pursuit of something better. But I struggle to take those steps because I don’t know what I should be working towards, or if that thing I’m working towards is even achievable. I struggle to strive for better because I’m afraid of investing time and energy into something that could fail. I’m afraid that if I try to get something better and fail that it’ll be a confirmation that I was never qualified or deserving of that thing in the first place. Sometimes I feel like I’d rather never try and regret what could have been than try and potentially fail.
I fulfilled my half marathon promise because I knew it was something I could do. It was a personal goal where the only thing standing in between me and success was myself. I think that’s why I can’t follow through on my other promises. I’m afraid that I’m not as good as the people I’m up against. I’m afraid that I’ll still fail even if I do my best. And the reality is that I could very well fail. A lot of the people I’d be up against are better and more qualified than I am. But I shouldn’t just shut down and live on autopilot because I’m afraid to fail. I shouldn’t settle for something less because I’ve convinced myself that I don’t deserve something more. I shouldn’t hold myself back from becoming better because I’m afraid I’ll never be the best. If I’m unhappy, I need to be doing something different. If I want more, I need to do more. It isn’t enough to want things to be better, you have to work to make them better.
I’m going to take active steps to get outside of my head. I’m going to scale back my promises and turn them into something that can be more tangibly achieved. I’m going to make myself a little less comfortable, so I can figure out what I want. I’m going to let myself be better, so I can have better.