A quick look at the number one obstacle I’ll ever have to contend with: myself.
Before embarking on a new adventure you need to take a look at (and then reduce in some way) the list of reasons not to do that thing. The external obstacles to be eliminated or circumnavigated are fairly straightforward to name and handle. It’s the internal obstacle, your inner critic, that can really gum up the works.
One way to know your inner critic when you see it is by its use of the phrases “Too Much” and “Not Enough.” Externally you might hear these as “too much money” or “not enough time,” but internally you’ve got “I’m too ordinary” or “I’m not deserving.”
Journaling through this, I ask others to list every Too Much and Not Enough they can think of, but with my own questing I’ve gotten into the habit of three each. Two sides of three coins, one coin per core fairy tale living value: Kindness, Intelligence, Right Work.
Too Much Rigidity, Not Enough Flexibility | kindness | Before I knew I had OCD, every time I needed something and worked for it I felt like an over-demanding jerk-face and so would put off my needs for as long as possible. In finding out, some of the pressure was relieved from that particular valve and I’ve been able to make steadier/calmer progress in standing up for myself. It’s just that now I’m worried about leaning too far in the other direction and actually becoming an over-demanding jerk-face as I assert my need to maintain certain foundational routines of self-care in order to give my best in a given situation.
Too Much Lecturing, Not Enough Listening | intelligence | I have always had a tendency to rant and ramble and over-share (and everyone I know who is into astrology will shake their head obligingly and say, “Okay, Aries, okay”). My OCD — as part of my hypervigilance — likes for me to be very verbally reactive in order to try and control others’ perceptions of me (that I’m smart, funny, kind, entertaining, worthy of their time/affection, etc.) which can make it difficult to be truly responsive to the people around me. As a participant in MFA workshops, a teacher of undergraduate courses, and as a potential future professor it’s important that I rein myself in so that I can learn what I need to learn and give others room to do the same.
Too Much Failure, Not Enough Success | right work | A big part of the reason I didn’t fight all that hard to find the right grad school or to even get into grad school (I applied to one school and only once and I still have no idea whether the folks I asked for letters of recommendation ever wrote or sent in the dang things) right out of getting my undergraduate degree was how hard it had been for me to get through school the first time around. All through elementary school, middle school, high school, and college no one had any idea that I had OCD and that it’s what was making academic success seemingly impossible for me. Over the last six/seven years I’ve been out of school, the topic of going back has come up but I just couldn’t imagine the possibility (let alone the probability) of getting an advanced degree on someone else’s schedule.
Clearly, since I’m going on this quest, I have tackled the issues above just enough to feel confident moving forward. It should be especially clear since I’ve technically journaled “ahead” in detailing my concerns with the three coins above. But the journey continues, the journaling continues, and there will be more to come with what is shaping up to be an in-progress Quest Study of how well The Four Gifts You Carry can work.
Also published on Medium.