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.