About a week ago, I posted the following thought for the day: “The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe that it is possible.” Well, I’ve thought about it, and now I’d like to offer my two cents.
Taken at face value, this quote is absolute bullshit because I reckon there are countless obstacles that can stand between a man and what he wants from life. There are figurative obstacles, such as those found in the day to day trials and tribulations of our overburdened human existence on this mortal coil. And then there are literal obstacles, like bears. Why didn’t the originators of this quote at the very least account for bears? I think a good-sized grizzly is a much more legitimate obstacle than willpower and faith, as this quote would have us believe. With that out of the way, I do see what this affirmation was getting at, and I believe there is some truth to it after all.
Honestly, the first part of that aphorism (“the will to try it“) often trips me up. I’ve never really been one to try new things–I’m an old soul who is fairly set in his ways. One of my co-workers recently recommended I listen to a new musical artist, in the event that I wanted “to branch out.” I replied, “Do I honestly look like someone who branches out?” She said, “Well, no…” And she was right. When I find something I like, I usually stick with it. For instance, when I go out to eat, it’s always at one of only a handful of restaurants, and regardless of how expansive that restaurant’s menu may be, I typically order the same damn thing. Don’t get me wrong–I’m not necessarily averse to trying new things. Hell, I’ll branch out every once in a while with the best of ’em. For the most part, though, I rarely set foot outside of my comfort zone, and I recognize now that this has been a detriment to my social development as both a man and a human being. But then again, it’s the fear of the unknown–or more precisely, the fear of failure–that cripples even the best of us. We must continue to try new things for the simple fact that choosing not to do so keeps us in the dark–it keeps us from growing and ensures that we will continue to live our lives partially motivated by fear. It’s the equivalent of “letting the terrorists win.”
Now, even if I manage to drum up enough courage to get past the first part of that aphorism (“the will to try it“), it’s always the last part (“the faith to believe that it is possible“) that gets me every time. Faith is the one virtue I appear to have had the most trouble developing during my lifetime; it’s like the fried egg to my teflon pan–it just doesn’t stick. I have a hard time believing in anything, especially myself. I wasn’t always like this, though–there was a time in my younger years when I seemed impervious to self-doubt. I was the smartest, fastest, toughest, and funniest kid in my class all throughout elementary school. But then I began growing up, and along with my middle school years came feelings of social inadequacy and the realization that I wasn’t who I wanted to be. That realization, coupled with the subsequent fear that I would never be the person I wanted to be, kicked off a crippling social anxiety disorder and mindset that I wasn’t good enough and never would be good enough. These are difficult concepts for a seventh grader to comprehend, let alone overcome, and by all rights I am still working through some of them. There’s a fine line between faith and delusion, though, and even if I’m unable to muster much faith, I reckon I’d be a lot happier if I could be just delusional enough to overcome my pragmatism and blindly believe that not only are good things possible, but that I deserve and am entitled to those good things. As Stuart Smalley used to say, “I’m good enough… I’m smart enough… and doggone it–people like me!“