Of all things, first and foremost, then first and foremost, I cannot be afraid to step up and rise to the occasion. I cannot afraid or too intimidated to try. I cannot be held down or “held in,” in the sense that I give in to my fears or my doubts, which essentially turns inward, against me, and causes me to shut down or emotionally implode.
I cannot be afraid to fail. I cannot give in to fear. In fact, i cannot even regard these things because of all things, if I am to do anything then I have to do everything I can to be sure that I have done my best.
I have to lay everything out there. Risk it. Do it. By any means necessary.
I cannot be afraid to learn. Most of all, I cannot be afraid to fail because how else will I learn if I can’t learn from my mistakes. I cannot be afraid to misspeak or concern myself with the sound of my voice. I cannot overthink about the the tone of my accent. Of all things, first and foremost, then first and foremost, I cannot step forward and regret my performance before my performance has even begun.
Each and every day, I do at least one thing to step out of my comfort zone. And do you know what?
I feel awkward. I have bouts with intimidation. I have bouts with insecurity. I struggle with the sound of my own voice. I am uncomfortable on camera and uncomfortable when I see myself in pictures or on video. Each day, however, I push myself to the test. I push myself to challenge these things. I put myself on camera. I perform on video. I put it out there and no one can ever stop me.
This is why I journal and post it here . . .
There are times when the last words I say repeat in my head, over and over again, and they sound stupid —this immediately leaves me uncomfortable, so I try to say something redeeming but the words that follow only sink me deeper into an awkward hole.
I used to fight this. I used to try and restate or reword my argument. I used to panic, creating unneeded pressure. But not anymore. I had to learn an exercise to help me through this. It is okay to think while performing; however, overthinking tends to be problematic. Therefore I have to allow my thoughts to flow instead of hold them.
I allow my mind to be like a tunnel where thoughts pass through. I think of me in a car. I envision a road I was on. I think I was somewhere down along the coastline Maui. It was a long time ago, but still, i remember this place well.
I drove through this tunnel. At the side of me was the ocean. The other side was mountain. It was beautiful. The Pacific was on one side of me and the beautiful land was on the other. I entered the tunnel during a picture perfect day. I drove through towards the light at the other side. I didn’t stop. I didn’t slow down. I just drove through.
I utilize this vision and relate this to my concept of thinking. It’s okay to think. It’s okay to be aware, but either way, I cannot slow down or stop. I just have to pass through. Therefore, rather than overthink my performance, same as I did not overthink the other cars in the tunnel at the same time as me; I allow my thoughts to pass through the tunnel the same way. I do not hold them or dissect them. I just keep moving and avoid the detours of the mind by passing through.
I cannot give in to my faults and flaws. I cannot give in to my thinking either, otherwise, I run the risk of freezing up at the moment of truth, —and I don’t know about you, but I didn’t come this far or survive this much or suffer, or bleed or hurt or cry, just to reach a moment of opportunity, to pause before the moment of truth, or to freeze when it is time for me to stand at the plate
I make no mistake in realizing that whatever the forum might be; whether this is a small routine task at work or whether I am presenting something to a crowd of people, or whether I am learning in a class but afraid to ask questions, or whether I am with people and I struggle because I believe I am less educated or less than, or whether I think I am too small to compete on such a big playing field or if I believe I am playing on unequal ground, —either way, I have to say to hell with it.
I cannot give in. I cannot compensate or behave on behalf of this kind of thinking. I cannot pass on false knowledge or parrot the conversation to repeat facts that do not belong to me, or “Act as if,” to be impressive, nor should I try to be impressive at all. I just have to be me.
I cannot be afraid to “Not” know or understand something. I cannot be afraid to ask for clarity or seek to find clarity for myself. At the end of the day, mine is the only reflection I see in the mirror; therefore, this is the reflection I am responsible to face. not anyone else..
Of all things, first and foremost, then first and foremost, I have to disregard the distractions on either side of me and be like that car ride I took through the tunnel.
I have to see myself as flowing through a pipeline. I have to envision me with no snags, no congestion, just movement. I have to let my thoughts pass and pay attention to my performance.
I cannot overthink the sound of my voice or my diction or my pronunciation. Instead, I have to speak out and speak loudly. I have to speak boldly, and not consider if this is being bravely, because living life on a daily basis is brave enough. I am already brave; therefore, why should I give in to fear?
No, I have to act. I have to bleed. I had to literally give all I have and lay it all on the table with every ounce of my energy, and should I come up short —then so what, at least I stood in the pocket. At least I rose to the occasion. At least I worked.
There was a video of a fight show I used to watch. One of the fighters went back at one of the coaches. The reason for this is because the coach criticized a fight, but yet, this coach never stepped into an octagon and had a cage door close behind him.
The fighter explained the difference between them. One of the two gets in and fights and the one, coaches, judges, and does not compete on this level. Meanwhile, one competes, bleeds, and hurts while the other sits in a safe place and criticizes.
The words I remember from this clip the most is from the fighter when he said, “I know what I’m good at; I know what I need work at. The difference is if I get knocked the fuck out, I’m still in there.”
The he said, “And you know what; one thing is not gonna change. You’ll be sittin there, right where you’re sittin.”
I used to receive messages from a friend I never really met. We knew each other on a tattoo forum where I used to keep a few of my blogs. He used to end his messages to me with the words, “Write on, Poet!”
I always regard this whenever I think of quitting\ because this means I can’t quit.
I have to live my life this way. I have to move through like that tunnel I was telling you about. We cannot give in to the over-complication of thought and fear. We cannot allow doubt to stop us from living our dream.
We all hit roadblocks. We all have setbacks. And we all have times when we fall so hard that it feels like we won’t ever be able to stand up again.
But we do stand up again.
For me, it had to come to this:
Screw the critics. Screw the crowd. Screw the people that look to say, “Look, see? You failed. I told you so!” and above all, screw the people that look to say how I have no place in this circle. And screw the circle. Screw them because I am the circle. I am always the square root to my own equation.
I am not here to fit or conform or shine. I am here to give the absolute best I have —and hey, if I fall or even if I get knocked out, at least I stood. At least I got in there and bled and gave it what I had.
Of all things, first and foremost, then first and foremost, if I am to have the life I want to live then I have to attack it with everything I have, every day, for the rest of my life. I need to do this because I would rather compete and lose than never compete at all and miss out on what it feels like to play the game.