Paralyzed by Possibility

It’s almost strange to say, but… I’m afraid of success.

I subscribe to the belief that if a person practices anything long enough, with enough devotion, and with enough dedicated grit, that person can and will eventually do well at it. Before you say it, I know that people have different levels of “natural talent” (whatever that means), and that it somehow gives them a leg up in whatever you’re attempting to do. But, here’s two quotes from filmmaker/entrepreneur/general inspiration, Casey Neistat, and the book of Proverbs, which have corrected this thought in me many times…

I might not ever be the smartest person in the room… or the best looking, or the most successful, or the funniest, or the most likable. But, I can always be the hardest working person in the room, and that’s what matters.
— Casey Neistat
Work hard and become a leader. Be lazy and become a slave.
— Proverbs 12:24 NLT

It’s not so much about where you’re at right now, as it is about how hard you work to get where you’re going. Even if you weren’t a math genius straight from the womb, you can learn to become proficient in it through hard work. If you’re not Adele (basically all of us), then you’re gonna have to practice the mess out of singing if you ever wanna get good at it. Skill sets aside, if you wanna become a more likable, welcoming, and warm person… guess what, you’ve gotta practice! “There ain’t nothing in this world for free” applies to dollars, but also in talents, skills, and character — you’ve gotta work hard to become the person that you wanna be!

This is why I have a problem when people say, “Oh, I can’t _________.”

In lieu of 2017 fast approaching, let me ask you this question… What have you given up on in the past that you wanna finally accomplish? Because whatever it is, whether it’s a financial goal, weight loss, dietary habits, family related, or to learn an instrument… you are more than capable of achieving it! But this time, DON’T GIVE UP. Success if just in the other side of a whole lotta hard work… so make it happen!

However, back to what the title suggests and as I mentioned above, here’s where my quandary of the fear of success comes in. Perhaps this is something you can relate with…

Because there are so many open possibilities (a seemingly infinite amount of them in fact)… it becomes to hard to choose to do anything at all. An old friend of mine, when asked what she’s majoring in, would reply, “I’m currently still exploring the myriad of opportunities that this crazy life has afforded me.” Basically, she was overwhelmed by the amount of things she could do, that she wasn’t really doing anything. And not in a lazy, avoidance-tactic kinda way… just in a “what the heck am I doing?” kinda way. And now I know how she felt, cause I’ve found myself right in that same scenario when someone asks me, “What are you doing next?!”

If I truly believe that I can do ANYTHING that I set my mind to, then the reason for doing it has got to be monumental. I’ve found that even in something like creating… The very thing that I feel most alive while doing… Sometimes, if the reason why I’m making something isn’t substantial enough, then it almost feels pointless. WHAT?! If that’s the case with something that I so deeply enjoy, then how much more true is that about the things that I don’t enjoy doing? And even more importantly… how do we find that why and constantly point our actions back to it?

When I hear about people who have changed their majors in college like five times, I first cringe and shed a small but fleeting tear for their bank account. But then I wonder, “Did they really give it their all?” Because, if this idea is true — that we really do have the capacity and the ability to do anything that we set our minds to — the problem shouldn’t be, “How well did I do at it?”, but rather, “Was I most fulfilled in doing this work?” No matter what a person decides to do with their life, there will always be difficulty along the way… the difference in discovering true “calling” is finding the thing that you naturally excel at amidst difficulty, but is also deeply fulfilling like no other.

I think our millennial generation is hyper-focused on finding that “why”, but at the same time, hyper-distracted from what really matters most. 

Value systems and ethics and morals are constantly shifting in culture, making any attempt to discover “calling” akin to trying to throw a dart at a bullseye that we can’t even agree is a bullseye at all. If we don’t decide for ourselves what is in fact most important, then we’ll find ourselves holding on tightly to that dart, paralyzed by possibility, afraid to throw it at the wrong dartboard. It’s not even the action, skill requirement, difficulty of task, or the fear of missing perfection that keeps us from throwing the dart — it’s the question of, “What if I’m wrong?”

The problem with this mentality is the assumption that we can actually be wrong at all.

It’s both hilarious and maddening when I realize that I often don’t apply one of my greatest mantras in life to this area, though it’s been proven effective in every other area in my life: Practice makes perfect. That saying would be empty if I didn’t have anything to prove it’s effectiveness by… however, my life is full of that evidence. The most recent example is daily vlogging. I started with ZERO video experience, ZERO tools, and ZERO idea of what I was doing. And now, because I planned, researched, and practiced… I’m just about at my 100 day mark of making a new video, EVERY DAY.

I don’t say that to brag, but rather to encourage you. That’s just one thing out of many that I’ve chosen to dedicate myself to, and now there’s fruit in my life that I can use as further proof that this stuff works! I’m just a normal dude, full of quirks and weakness and insecurity… by God’s grace, if I can do this, you can too.

In thinking about the future, I think if we’re all honest, we’re afraid to mess it up. Because we inhabit only one moment at a time, the thought of everything we know being completely different at some other, undisclosed moment in time can be terrifying. We’re trained to think logically and linearly from the start of our education… and when concepts like God and tragedy and the future don’t match that format, we tend to freak out. What if we decided to let our desire for understanding and control be replaced by trust in the Lord? And in doing that, what if we actually just trusted the plans that He has for us, and worked really hard to see those dreams that He’s planted inside of us, come true? 

Let’s change our “What if’s”  to “Why not’s” when it comes to the future. Let’s change our New Years resolutions into New Days resolutions, boldly enabling positive change on the daily. Let’s stop wondering about what the Lord is gonna do, and start acting on the things that He’s already doing in our hearts, families, and cities. Let’s be the people today that we want to be tomorrow.

I pray that in this day, you’ll be deeply encouraged by the reality that no matter what you do, you’re deeply loved by the King. Put aside all of the productivity and planning and dreaming for a second… no matter how crazy life gets, this is a truth that supersedes it all: Jesus died because He loves you. Not for your dreams. Not for that financial goal you wanna reach. Not for that career that you feel like is made for you. He died so that you could be in communion with the Holy of Holies, and experience the only true Love that will ever satisfy. I pray that you’ll remember who you are in Christ, far before you even lift a finger to make the world a better place. But in that, I hope that you’ll look boldly to the future, knowing that everything is gonna be okay. You’ve been given everything that you need in order to see your dreams happen. You are amazing in more ways than you know, and I believe in you. So go for it! You’re awesome, friend. I love you, and don't forget to keep moving forward.