The thought occurred to me as I watched the analytics for the blog climb. More and more people are making their way here, far more than I honestly anticipated. Sure, I started the blog with the idea that it would be a way to reach out to others and make connections in the world of writing, but deep down I expected it to be a failure like so many other projects I’ve half started.
In fact, along the way I’ve tried to sabotage myself by saying things like “Oh, well those are just people I know who are nice enough to stop by.” Or, “Mom must have found a way to drive up page views.” And then there’s the, “Well those people aren’t really hanging around, they stop in for a second, think it’s a bunch of rubbish, and then leave.” But the numbers keep going up, and I’m finding fewer and fewer ways to dismiss them, (and trust me, I’ve tried).
So I went and found a new way to try and sabotage myself. “The blog is doing so well, why do I really need to keep worrying about getting my work published? It’s such a hassle. Why not be satisfied with what I’ve already accomplished?”
I stopped myself. Realized what I was doing. I was trying to get out of taking a chance, to turn something else into a non starter. After all, as an old soccer shirt of mine once said, “You can’t score if you don’t shoot.” And if you score, well, people might expect you to score again. Or what if you don’t score the next time? What will they say? It was just a hat trick. Nothing really special about that guy.
Then again, if we never shoot, never score, never try, we can never be told that we are not great. We can always fall back on, “Well, I could have gone places if it hadn’t of been for that knee injury.” And you know what, no one can say, “No you wouldn’t have.” And therein lies the beauty of never really trying.
“If I just wouldn’t have waited to the last minute to do that paper, it would have been great.”
“If I would have left on time for that interview I would have landed that job.”
“If I just would have gotten enough sleep the night before I could have won that race.”
Admittedly, being satisfied is a good thing. It brings a great deal of peace to our lives. We just have to be careful with what we decide to be satisfied with, or more aptly, why we choose to be satisfied. If you decided to be satisfied with the amount of money you earn because frankly the extra hours to make more would take you away from your family, I’d say that’s a good reason.
It’s hard to believe, but sometimes small successes stand in the way of the big ones. My small success senior year of high school was breaking the school record for the 400 yard dash. I grew cocky. Let my grades slip, dropped a class that I thought was too easy for me and then mid way through track season found myself cut from the team because of poor grades. I was able to get my physics teacher to change my grade for me after a few weeks of dedication to his class and being outright pathetic in everyone’s presence. But by the time I got back on the track I was weeks behind in training. The night before league I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning working on a Spanish presentation that I should have done earlier in the week.
The next day I broke the school record again. It was the fastest I had ever run. But it wasn’t fast enough. To this day I still hold the school record for the 400, but that doesn’t get your name on the gym wall, winning at league does. Not sabotaging yourself so that you have excuses gets your name on the wall.
Maybe there was some part of me that thought that having an excuse would help. Honestly, it doesn’t. At the time it did. Oh the excuses I made: “the other runner was a year older than me because he was held back,” “I heard they oxygenate their blood before they run,” “I didn’t get enough sleep,” “I didn’t get to train as much.” While those excuses helped at the time, looking back on it, I see it for what it was, an embarrassment.
I can even remember being disgusted with the other runner for not showing up at subsections a week later as the top two spots always do. Third place got to run in his stead. First place didn’t show because he was sleeping off a hangover that he earned from a wild night of partying at their Jumping Frog Jubilee the night before. Maybe he was sabotaging himself too. Who knows. What I do know is this, he already proved what he needed to, I didn’t.
I’ll never know what would have happened that day if I’d given it my all, if I’d come prepared. And frankly, that hurts more than the losing, because you know what, I lost anyway. Better to lose but know that you gave it your all than to always have to wonder about “what if.”
So I ask, are you standing in your own way? Are you doing things in your own life that amount to self sabotage? If so, be wary of it. Because in the end, we all want our names on the wall but we have to write them there ourselves.