As I always do, when I write a blog post, I try to choose a picture that shows either the level of depth that I intend for you, the reader, to get out of what I have written, or it just accidentally fits. The latter is one of those moments.
Throughout my life, I have been involved in various potential career possibilities. For the first 20 or so years, I just ambled through various jobs to make money or keep myself entertained. The first career that I thought I wanted to pursue was that of a professional golfer. I was good, but inconsistent. And it wasn’t until 20+ years later that I understood why I couldn’t get to the level that I wanted to. Once I progressed past a certain point with my first coach, he couldn’t help me anymore because I had passed his ability to teach. He was great at fundamentals, but he had a problem in his own swing that he couldn’t fix. And I was too unsure of what to do that I allowed myself to get blown around like a leaf in the wind, going from what I thought was one good coach to another and avoiding great coaches, thinking myself not worthy enough of their time and talent. And once my shoulders gave out, I was forced to leave the game that I had no intention of leaving. I then turned to an obvious career. The field of Internet Technology, and specifically being a Network Administrator. I was raised on computers from the time I was four years of age. So, I breezed through 4 months of classes, earned my certification, and was immediately placed in a job for a small company with about 20-30 users. In retrospect, the best thing for me to do was be a part of a good team, get an all-around education in the field and earn my stripes in the field. But I was cocky and I did my job quite well. But I was also missing any further credentials, as well as a college degree. Not having a degree ended up with me being given severance pay for the last half of my 1-year contract with the company. The money gave me the opportunity to get one of my shoulders repaired and take some time to consider what I wanted to do with my life.
It was about this time that I rediscovered my faith in God and decided to dedicate myself to what I felt he wanted for me. This involved some time with a traveling youth ministry organization, and, ultimately, studying to be a priest. For 5 years I tried to do what I felt like God wanted for me. All the while, though, I was playing golf whenever I had free time. Over the summers I would spend time out in Arizona, taking lessons with a coach who I found out later was even worse than what I had dealt with prior. Again, I settled for what was less than what I wanted. During my time in seminary, though, I, on two occasions, came down with an undiagnosed ailment which turned out to be physically symptomatic chemical depression. I was useless a couple months at a time. When it happened the second time, thankfully I had already earned my degree in Philosophy. I was only in my first semester of major seminary and the Diocese I was studying for were really good to me. We decided to take a break from my studies and see if God wanted me elsewhere.
I ended up moving to Arizona 7 months later. I stayed with the same coach who I couldn’t seem to get any kind of results with, dated a woman who turned out to be a liar and a cheat, but eventually ended up finding the woman that I would marry, moving to Canada to live for 7 years. The rest is somewhere in my blog posts, but there is something that I never quite understood about everything that I have gone through.
Aside from doing everything I could to make sure that my relationship with my, now, wife would have the best possible success, and up until I found my current golf coach, I have settled for less than what most people would think they deserve. On the outside, it might appear that I do the best I can to make my career choices successful, but on the inside I feel like a fake. It’s like I feel I don’t deserve these things. The cat, in the header, is a lot of how I feel from day to day, week to week. That one of these days/weeks/months/years, something will finally click and I will be released from my cocoon and emerge as the person that I want to be.
It’s a constant struggle to know that you not only have the ability, but also the means to pursue the things in life that bring you the most enjoyment. Just don’t ask me if I take advantage of either the means or the ability. The answer will most likely vary on either the day, or the time of day that you are asking me.
Most people will suggest, from time to time, that this is merely residue from my depression. That it still “haunts” me from time to time. They might be right. But I know they are wrong.
You see, I fear success.
Yes I said that. I fear succeeding. I fear that I might eventually be really good at what I am doing. Whether it is golf, writing, or whatever I turn my attention to. I fear it, because it might cause a change in my life that I don’t want to have happen. I like spending time with my wife. She’s my best friend. We’ve never had a fight in the 10 years we have known each, because we are always talking. We are open and honest with each other about everything. There are no secrets between us. And I like it that way.
So why would I want to have that change? Because being successful at golf or writing mean that I have to now include more people into my life that don’t have a place in it, currently.
So now, you may wonder, why I keep at my golf and my writing? Well, for golf, the answer is easy. I lowered my expectations of what I want out of it. Even though I know that I could probably achieve a level better than where I was at any point in my life, I lower the expectation because I have to. I can’t be successful at everything and maintain the balance in my life that I, and I am sure everyone who lives and breathes, want for my life. So I allow my successes to be on a much smaller scale.
But my writing doesn’t seem to present the same issues as golf would. I can spend a couple weeks every year doing book tours, and spend the rest of my time writing (and playing golf).
But I need to change my level of expectation to match what I feel is commensurate with my desires. To put it plainly, I need to set goals like I would with golf. In golf, you can set very tangible goals to pursue with outcomes that are fairly predictable based on the amount of practice that I put in. The outcome is predictable because there are median levels of expected outcome that a person with a fair level of ability and a good work ethic should maintain. And if you set your bar low for achievement, you simply meet your goal and move on to the next one. And that’s what I need to do with my writing. In order to get the maximum value out of the time being spent, I need to set my expectation lower so that I, in turn, actually have another goal to reach. This is opposed to the all or nothing goal that I most likely have for myself. That’s a lot of pressure to try and withstand, rather than just taking things one step at a time, one goal at a time.
One day I will turn into a beautiful writer. Sometimes that day is today, other times it’s still a worthy goal to pursue.