Not just a Whit for Wednesday

Why isn’t it safe to desire, to want something with my whole heart and believe it’s both attainable and a good thing?

I wrote on the topic of desire last week and what’s at the root of my procrastination: the heaviness, the overwhelm, of getting from here to there. It feels like too much … and I am not enough.

As writer and writing teacher Jennifer Louden suggests:

Desire is not about fulfillment. It’s about working with the gap between reality and our idealized longing — and not clinging there.” ~ Jennifer Louden

If there’s one thing I can lay claim to it’s idealized longing.

Idealized everything, actually. I’m not a realist and never have been. Check my horoscope — sun and moon signs, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Enneagram, numerology reading. They all support it.

I like this about myself. Why not believe in the possibility of something way better than what is?

Except when it comes to my own goals. Idealizing those keeps me stuck, not motivated to move toward achieving them.

Breaking goals down into bite-sized pieces isn’t the problem. I’ve had lots of training in time management.

For me it’s not safe to desire. There’s the fear of not being good enough, of falling short, of not measuring up to my own (super high) expectations and the voiced (or imagined) expectations of others, of embarrassing myself (Yeah, I know. Weird. I’m still working on uncovering the root of this one).

There’s also this other fear: How do I know what I really want? How do I know that I can trust myself and believe in myself, that my desires are really my desires, and that my desires are “legit”?

It’s ridiculous when I write it down. If I desire something, it’s my desire. Simple. But I make it complicated. I think I want x, but do I really? Should I want x? What if I’m only telling myself I want x … but don’t really? Or what if wanting x is not a “good” desire to have? Maybe someone out there knows better than I do what I really want.

And then, what if I get x and it’s not really what I wanted? Then I’d have spent (meaning wasted) all that time and energy on reaching it, all for nothing. (There’s that theme of time again that leads to procrastination.)

I don’t think I’m alone in this lack of confidence in my own knowing. I think it’s an issue and a struggle for many women.

There was — and still is — cultural assumptions and programming regarding what women can and can’t, should and shouldn’t, desire and do. Recall history. There are women writers who used a male pseudonym to avoid discrimination; much made of women who “broke barriers” by entering male-dominated fields; and efforts being made to overcome stereotypes and attitudes that still keep girls and women out of professions in science, technology, engineering and math. Overwhelmingly, men still make the rules that govern women’s bodies; the Equal Rights Amendment, introduced in Congress in 1921, still is not law; and sexism in politics is alive and well. I’m sure you have your “favorites” as well.

Is it any wonder many of us don’t feel safe in wanting what we want, even when in our stronger moments we feel quite competent, thank you very much.

My friend Debbie and I have talked about this a lot over the years since we’ve “awakened.” We’ve wished for some type of program for girls — born fearless — to help them hold on to that belief in themselves, so they don’t have to rediscover their enoughness when they enter middle age as we did.

May it be so.

And yes, that’s an idealized longing. But if we all work with that gap between today’s reality and the goal of us all believing in ourselves and that which only we are uniquely prepared to offer to the world, it can happen.

I want this with my whole heart and believe it’s both attainable and a good thing.

That’s a desire I feel safe in having.

9 Replies to “Not just a Whit for Wednesday”

  1. Take a risk! Take the leap! Follow your heart! Write while you explore! You have “family” at either end to soften transition. You can do an about face if you decide this dream didn’t feed your soul the way you thought it would. It’s better to retool or redirect the dream that fades than to face life later, regretting the path unfollowed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sister Idealist! I can’t tell you how much this resonates with me. Idealism is great until you attach expectations to it – especially about yourself – and then it is the straightest path to disappointment and disillusion there is. Also, there is a point at which idealism becomes perfectionism and that’s a whole ‘nother sack ‘o cats, friend, and I think that’s what’s causing the procrastination and self-doubt. I’ve had many a go-round with that particular nastiness and it’ll keep you spinning and disoriented forever if you let it. I sense you know that. The only way I’ve found to deal with any of this is simply to realize that you’re already wasting time procrastinating, so if what you want to do ends up being a waste of time you’re no worse off.

      You’ve got nothing to lose if you don’t at least try. Regret is a bitter pill; much harder to swallow than failure. Trust me – I speak from experience. Try whatever you want to try. Give it your best shot and leave the rest up to the universe. You have no control over it. All you can do is put what’s within you out there and see what happens. Let go of your ideas of how it should or will not work out and try your very hardest to make it work. If it doesn’t, try another way. There are no guarantees. You might fail or you might succeed, but either way you’ll survive and be just fine. Bruises heal, and you will have learned and grown from the experience. No effort is ever wasted.

      Give in to your desire and see where it leads you. You can always turn back if it turns out to be the wrong direction. Chances are that it won’t, or that it’ll take you to another off-shoot path that is something you didn’t know you wanted but that is exactly the right thing. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it no matter what happens cuz you didn’t give into fear (which is simply perfectionism in its purest form).

      Bravery is something you learn by realizing that failure is not going to kill you. It’s not part of our standard human equipment typically. You have to test it out and the only way to do that – the only way to not let yourself down, which is ultimately the worst pain there is – is to try. To put yourself out there and give the gifts that you’ve been given to the universe. Yes, you’re making yourself vulnerable. Yes, it could be hurtful. But it could also be wonderful. You won’t know until you do it.

      Just do the best you can. That’s it! That’s all there is. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you! So glad it resonated. This is brilliant … “Bravery is something you learn by realizing that failure is not going to kill you.” That one is a keeper for a mantra!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Karen,
    You wrote “There’s also this other fear: How do I know what I really want? How do I know that I can trust myself and believe in myself, that my desires are really my desires, and that my desires are “legit”?”

    The problem starts with early childhood. When we’re told that something obviously pleasurable is bad. Touching our private parts, eating too many sweets. That confuses our basic ability to know what we want. If society does what it can to minimize this longstanding child rearing problem, the human condition will be a little better.

    Liked by 1 person

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