This February, I’m doing #LoveMe, a challenge designed to help you learn to love yourself! One of my New Year’s resolutions was to be kinder and more gentle to myself, so I’m trying to be as positive as I can possibly be in 2017 and hope that doing this challenge will be good for my mental health and overall well-being. Check out my previous #LoveMe posts here!
Today’s prompt is:
Share a quote.
In my six plus years of blogging, I’ve published quite a few posts about my favorite quotes… and this one was by far the most difficult to write because I set a high goal for myself: I would choose a quote that I not only loved but also found helpful.
I spent ages thinking about possible quotes to use here. Something positive. Something that motivates me to get out of bed in the morning. Something that encourages me to keep going even on the days when my mental health is at its worst. Because that’s what #LoveMe is all about, right?
This is the quote I eventually settled on:
“Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow.”
– Carrie Fisher
Let me tell you a little bit about why this quote is important to me.
I first came across this quote in December 2015 because The Force Awakens had recently been released, causing an outpouring of love for all things Star Wars – including the three original leads. I don’t remember who posted that quote or where I saw it, but I do remember liking it and then discovering all the other things Carrie Fisher had to say about mental health and mental illness. (Which, by the way, is a lot. And it’s good stuff. You should check it out.)
And then I didn’t think about that quote for months – almost exactly a year, in fact, give or take a few days. I saw that quote again after it was announced that Carrie Fisher had died and once again I was like, “Hey, that’s a really good quote,” but this time I connected it to something that was going on in my own life. Something that I’d been thinking about a lot lately.
You see, in between December 2015 and December 2016, I started going to University Counseling Services at my school to get help for my mental health. I have a great therapist now and she’s really good at knowing when to push me and when to back off so that I step outside of my comfort zone but don’t become too overwhelmed.
Anyway, we’ve had a lot to say to one another in all of our appointment together and though I don’t always remember what she says (because DAMN YOU, DEPRESSION-INDUCED BRAIN FOG), there is one thing she said that I just can’t stop thinking about. She said it months and months ago, but it has stuck with me: You can’t wait until you feel comfortable because if you do, you’ll wait forever.
I like to feel comfortable.
Because it’s easy, right? When my anxiety is screaming at me not to do something because oh no oh no what if I fuck up it’s better to avoid trying that scary new thing or when my depression does its best to prevent me from leaving my dorm room for four days straight even to eat and shower or when my OCD slyly convinces me that I didn’t do an action correctly the first time so now I have to do it one hundred more times even though I’m already running late, it’s easy to just cave in.
It’s not definitely fun, but it is easy.
My therapist’s words remind me that it doesn’t have to be this way. Sometimes you have to do something even though you’re not completely ready… because you’re never going to be completely ready. So you may as well go ahead and do it now.
I’m not saying that you should go in unprepared, but the trick is knowing when you feel as ready as you’re ever going to get and then going ahead and doing the thing even though you’re not 100% ready. You’re only 99.7% ready but that remaining 0.03% is never going to appear so if you waited for it, you’d be waiting forever. And you’d never get to do all the cool things that you wanted to do with your life.
It’s hard to sternly tell my anxiety that I’m going to sign up for the new activity and talk to people I’ve never met before and apply for that job or internship I’m not sure I’ll get.
It’s hard to make myself get out of bed (or up off the floor, on really bad days) and go to class when I have no energy or motivation and my depression tells me that there’s no point to anything anyway.
It’s hard to redirect my attention to a different task when my OCD nags me to do something over and over because it didn’t feel quite right the first time I did it.
And I wish it were easier, because I like to be comfortable.
Too often I settle for what is easy and comfortable in the long run, but will eventually give me a lot of trouble. I’m trying to unlearn that habit by challenging myself to do things right now even though I want to wait until I am comfortable. I repeat my therapist’s words to myself whenever I need reassurance about trying things that make me uncomfortable. And a few months ago, I saw that Carrie Fisher quote again for the first time in about a year and realized that it’s about the same basic idea.
I am afraid all the time, but doing my best to not let it stop me. If I wait until I am comfortable and unafraid, if I wait until I am not depressed and anxious and no longer have OCD, I’ll be waiting forever.
Now if I want to do something but feel that a lack of confidence is stopping me, I go ahead and do it anyway. Still afraid. Because I’ve found that the second half of the quote is just as true: The confidence will eventually follow. It may take a while to show up, but after a while it’s definitely there and I’m left wondering why I was ever worried about not being ready for whatever it is that I’m doing (and enjoying!) right now.
I love that quote. I don’t want any tattoos but if I did, it would probably be one of them… and if I ever get organized enough to start keeping a notebook full of my favorite quotes copied out in fancy handwriting (THE DREAM TBH), it will be one of the first I write down.
What quote or quotes help you?
P.S. Hello, future me. Here is a positive, Star Wars-themed reminder from your past self: