So, it’s a new year: 2018. A new semester for me at school. A new year for me: 17. A fresh page, so to speak. This is the time where you write down your goals and aspirations and resolve to be a better person than you were last year.
But what if your visions for your future self are wildly different, even contradictory? What if you want to be an amazing athlete as much as you’d like to perfect your art? How do you decide what goals to pursue in the limited amount of time you have? And what if, at the same time, the possibility of achieving your goals scares you to death even more than it exhilarates you?
Those are the issues I’m dealing with. I have so many dreams and so many ways I’d like to spend my time to improve myself and reach self-actualization. All of these dreams are equally important to me and I can’t decide which one would be the best to choose to really focus on. And those are only in addition to the academic goals that are a necessary and unfortunately inevitable part of being a high school junior.
While this inner conflict is going on, another inner conflict is also present. My desire to achieve my dreams is actually outweighed by my fear of achieving them. I’m a person who likes to deal with the abstract rather than the concrete. It’s more interesting to me, more appealing, more comforting for dreams to remain nebulous things in my future or my imagination. I don’t want to see the tangible products of my labor; I want to fantasize about them. I don’t want to be the person I could become, because that person wouldn’t be me, the person I am now. It would be someone else.
So I’m stuck in this cycle, this endless internal battle where one part of me begs for improvement and the other part is immobilized by fear or complacency. No one else understands it. I’m not sure if even I understand it myself. Meanwhile I keep my head down, my shoulders slump, I don’t eat, I don’t sleep, I fail because I’m less scared of failure than I am of success.
Why am I this way? I hate failing. I sob into my pillow for hours. I go do retakes during my lunch hour. I loathe myself when I feel too tired and irritable to do my homework and end up procrastinating and wasting time instead. But some inner voice within me sighs in relief also. I don’t want to be someone extraordinary, someone noticed. At the same time, I daydream about being a famous writer interviewed on Steven Colbert’s Late Night Show or being interviewed for an exclusive interview with the New York Times.
Here’s how I know for certain that I am afraid of success and winning. I was placed in the JV race for one of my cross country meets because I was struggling a bit at practice due to illness. However, I should have not been placed in the JV race. Why? Because, five seconds after the gun shot, I was already leading the race, strides ahead of the rest of my competition. And that distance only increased during the first three quarters of the race.
After I was about 75% through the race, people who were cheering for me started to warn me to pick up my pace, because apparently another girl was close on my tail. I was tiring at that point and did not. This girl leveled with me and we ran side by side. She told me in a panted breath to stick by her; I did for a while but then she left me to forge on ahead.
At that moment, desperation should have set in. I should have gritted my teeth against the pain and kept up with that girl. But I didn’t. I was relieved she passed me. I hated being first. I hated running alone, in front of everyone else. It felt wrong, and it scared me. So I let the girl pass me, and I got second place. As we both were bent over at the finish line with our hands on our knees, through heaving breaths we exchanged congratulations. And you know what I did then? I thanked the girl for beating me. I thanked her. She must have thought I was insane. I feel bad about doing it now because it must have made her feel that her win wasn’t legitimate — I had just let her win. Which was true, in a way, but I didn’t want her to know that.
Whenever I think of this event in my past, shame overwhelms me. What is wrong with me? Why do I despise success and embrace meritocracy? How can I fix this? I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if anyone else feels the way I do. I think it’s a very conceited and arrogant feeling to have. In the end, it’s only going to make me miserable.
If you’ve read to the end of this personal rant (if you have, thank you) could you tell me if you’ve ever felt the same way, or known any one else dealing with this issue? Do you have any suggestions for how I might fix/remedy it? How can I learn to fight hard to be the person I am meant by God to be?