Do you believe your ambition is a waste of time? It could be your best buddy, Doubt, talking to you, again. When I decided to fully commit to my writing, it was a bit of a struggle. I know what you’re thinking, “What’s the big deal? Don’t you just sit down and type?” That’s what my friends, teachers, and family had been saying my whole life. They thought I had some skill when it came to putting words on a blank sheet, but I just didn’t see it. I couldn’t look past the errors I’d make. If I did actually finish a paper, it wouldn’t make it past the first edit. I couldn’t see what I envisioned in my head. It was never “good enough.” I was never “good enough.”
Perfectionist doesn’t even begin to describe how bad I was. Anything I wrote, or thought of writing, would be thrown away, deleted, or forgotten; simply because I continued to see myself as a failure. So, making this commitment took a bit of self-preparation, and a little internal monologue. It went a little like this:
Mark, you’re such a weenie. Chill out and try bruh. What’s the worst that could happen? You can’t be the WORST writer out there; I mean 50 Shades of Grey exists. Go home, sit down, and write something. Also, you should stop talking to yourself in the middle of Chipotle. You’re holding up the line, and the buff dude behind you looks pretty hungry.
So I grabbed my food, ran from the hungry hungry Hulk, and I went home to write. Surprisingly, I actually wrote out the first two chapters of a short story I had wanted to start for years. I got up from my desk feeling pretty confident with my work, only to be flooded by feelings of inferiority, minutes later; it was followed by a defeatist attitude that I couldn’t shake off for days. I was actually scared of continuing the story, scared of failing and scared of being a disappointment; but what scared me the most was… what if I was actually a natural? The thought of succeeding terrified me, and I didn’t know why. What if I was actually good at this, or maybe someday I could be great?
What if someone was actually dumb enough to let me write for them—nice going Collective Lifestyle—and I wasn’t completely terrible? Maybe, just maybe, I could actually write an entire book. Thinking about all those people that would want to read what I had to say, and if they’d actually enjoy my work, was alarmingly exciting. I have since read the quote from Dr. Robert Anthony, “We fear the thing we want the most.” I was surprised with how much that resonated with me. I am a 22-year-old man-child that was afraid to admit—let alone do—something I love. Every time I pick up a pen and paper or open up Word, I am terrified. Terrified of not being able to write my thoughts out clearly, terrified of being unheard, but more importantly, terrified of loving whatever I finished.
I remember being a kid and thinking I could be anything. Nothing and no one could stop me from being Spider-Man, who was also a WWE wrestler, a doctor, and the President when I had the time. I know I’m not alone when I say that somewhere after our rather blissful childhood we allowed fear to cripple us. Our imagination and creativity had been exchanged for a practical mindset.
Where did our drive go? I went from wanting everything to accepting anything. My world began to shrink and I became unsure of myself, so I took a year off after high school to work. The year I worked as a cashier was a good year for one reason, I got fired. I grew way too comfortable, and my goals switched from wanting a stethoscope to wanting a manager’s name tag. Fortunately, one day I did the company a favor and worked off the clock. This was against their policy and I was let go. After the comfort of a crappy income had left, I made the decision to start college and continue my dream of becoming a doctor. The months leading up to the beginning of the semester seemed to drag along, and when the week before school finally arrived… I did exactly what I mentioned before. I freaked myself out, went into the semester thinking I was a loser, already, and barely finished the semester with a 2.0.
The next semester started and I was in-between majors. I had this notion that there wasn’t a single medical school which would accept me with any C’s on my transcript. I was going to class, barely paying attention, and I did just enough to get by. Then something beautiful happened: I almost died. I was in a motorcycle accident halfway through the semester—went down going anywhere from 80-90 mph—and was hospitalized for a month. I was wheelchair-bound for three, and I was “walking” a month after that. I put quotations around walking because it didn’t exactly look like walking. It was more of a mixture between a baby’s first steps and a slow seizure. I was out of school for almost two years. I’d go over the details of those two years, but that’s a story for another day. During those two years, I felt like I was running life’s race with a weight strapped around my leg. When I was finally able to start school, I felt as if the weight had disappeared, and I was off. It was a whole different ball game, that time, and I ended that semester with a 4.0. I’m now technically in my second semester, soon to be my third—ugh, finals, am I right? I carried that “can-do” attitude into the semester, and doors actually opened.
What I’m trying to say is that we tend to be our own worst enemies, and our minds—which are capable of astoundingly amazing feats—tend to cloud our judgment. We exaggerate our flaws because we embellish the attributes of others. The fact that you are alive, right here and now, is an amazing accomplishment that deserves praise all on its own. So, now that you’re here, what will you do? Will you waste this amazing opportunity to laugh, love, and live each day as it deserves to be? Or will you watch life pass you by while waiting for the perfect time to start living? Ambition, it’s something inside us that can move mountains. We have made art that has defined generations, created music so beautiful that it brought people to tears and made ungodly creations that have revolutionized everything—I still don’t even know how my remote works. With these ambitious artists, inventors, and revolutionaries came doubt, individual to each of them. They have stumbled, some may have fallen, but they got up and kept pushing forward.
Ambition and doubt go hand-in-hand, and one is always trying to out-compete the other. Doubt can win, but you can’t let it. Your fear of doing nothing needs to be greater than your fear of failure. So, I’ll ask you again, what will you do?
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