Wonderful Stuff Wednesday: Brave Starts Here

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Supposedly, it's warmer today than it was yesterday, but I am not buying that. I don't know what it is, but I am having the hardest time being motivated to do anything besides lay in bed, watch reruns of Law and Order (of all varieties), and occasionally knit. Maybe it's the frigid weather and my desire to hibernate like a woodland creature, maybe it's laziness, maybe it's my depression seeping in around the edges again. I don't know. What I do know is that I have been ridiculously unproductive in most facets of my life that extend beyond being a clean, upright, appropriately dressed, human being. Sorry, world.

But today is Wednesday, so I figured I'd put together a Wonderful Stuff Wednesday for you! I wasn't going to do it, but then I watched a TED Talk, and I decided that it needed to be part of Wonderful Stuff Wednesday. I know, I know, enough with the TED Talks, Alison. Speaking of which, there are a lot of people really upset about TED Talks and say they'll cause "civilisational disaster" (because they're British or Candian or something and don't use the letter Z). There are also people who are really upset that people are really upset about TED Talks. I'm a big fan of TED Talks and today I found this one that has been circulating recently. It features Lizzie Velasquez, a 25 year old woman with a rare medical condition that may be related to progeria. The talk focuses on defining yourself and choosing happiness, and while that may sound cheesy and weird, I really enjoyed her talk and think it's worth watching.


I especially liked the end of her talk and I made it the subject of this post. Brave starts here. I think a lot of the reason that I don't feel motivated right now is that I'm afraid. I've always had a near-paralyzing fear of failure, and that only got worse as I got older, peaking at the point when I was in med school. Fear of failure, compounded with depression and generalized anxiety disorder, pushed me over the edge and caused me to collapse in an emotional disaster that has fortunately been unparalleled by anything either before or since. I'm afraid to start because if I can't finish, or the finish doesn't turn out like I want it to, or heaven forbid I actually failed at something, the world might end.

I did some brave things last year, the bravest being reapplying to medical school. For years I had lied to myself and said I would never go back, but the truth was, I was afraid. I was afraid of what people would think, and I was afraid that it made me look clinically insane to go back to something that I had proclaimed to hate so much in 2008. I was afraid that if I went back, I'd break again. But I applied, and here we are, and guess what? I'm still afraid. I'm afraid of not getting in. I'm afraid of getting in somewhere, but that we'll have to move. I'm afraid of getting in and not being able to hack it. I'm terribly, horrible, ridiculously afraid of going from being a two-income household to a one-income household.

I spend a lot of my time being anxious, and anxiety from one place or event or issue seems to seep into the rest of my life. It's like when I'm anxious about one thing, it permeates through my brain and I find eleven other things to be anxious about on top of the original thing. Before I know it, simply existing makes me afraid and I end up in bed, under 27 blankets, binge watching procedural police dramas and contemplating my existence.

It's seeping into my social life, too. I have orchestra rehearsal tonight for the first time in about a year. I wanted to play in the fall, but my schedule was absolutely horrible and I couldn't handle another night out of the house on top of my classes. I almost decided not to play this concert because I'm afraid that my RA will make it too hard to play, or that I won't like it, or... whatever. I'm making myself go, though, and I hope it'll work out. My birthday is tomorrow (28!) and last week, I posted a Facebook invite for people to get together. Monday and yesterday, I was in a mood where I wanted to cancel the whole thing and just spend the weekend curled up in solitude. I wasn't nervous or anxious or afraid... but being anxious and afraid all the time is exhausting and makes it hard to be around people. I also feel like people don't want to be around me because sometimes, I feel like I can't even be around myself.

But... brave starts here. Brave starts inside my head and my heart. Brave starts with allowing myself to be afraid and doing it anyway. Brave is doing things I don't feel like doing or that I'm afraid to do. Brave is taking chances. Brave is defining myself differently from how I've been defining myself and figuring out what that even means. Which reminds me, January 15th is the first link up for The Creative Collective and I have to pick a word for 2014. I was tossing around a few in my head, but one of them is BRAVE. Not only did this TED Talk today make me think about being brave, but Sara Bareilles' single, "Brave," from her latest album, really resonated with me from the first time I heard it. I may choose two words for 2014. One verb and one non-verb. I recently read a post on A Practical Wedding that I really liked about a woman who chooses a verb for each year (this post also talks about that) and I think it's a lovely idea. Perhaps tomorrow I will post more about that and what word I end up choosing. That APW post is also part of Wonderful Stuff Wednesday... so definitely go check it out.

And now, since this post seems to have become quite heavy, some levity for Wonderful Stuff Wednesday.


I don't know about you, but I could use a laugh. And you might learn something about the armadillo. I, for one, did not know that there was an armadillo larger than myself in existence. Can't say I'm really happy to have learned that, because that's kind of terrifying, but hey. (Not totally safe for work if you listen out loud, consider yourself warned.)

So. What is your "brave" going to be this year? What did you think of the TED Talk? Did you see or hear anything especially wonderful that I need to check out? Leave it in the comments!

Have a good one, all.

- A



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