August 22, 2018

Fear and Inspiration: A Year's Reflection

1:36 AM

One of my favorite go-to quotes for inspiration is the following:

"If I quit now, I will soon be back to where I started. And when I started I was desperately wishing to be where I am now."

I am writing this in the late days of August, almost exactly one year after I began my senior year of high school. It is 1:20 AM, which isn't too bad considering my old habits of staying up until 3 or 4 just surfing the Internet. Many of my friends have left for college, and I will do the same in about a month's time.

I look back on where I was a year ago and I see a very different person. Not different in terms of personality or identity, as all of that remains relatively constant for me. But this past year has brought me so many new experiences and relationships. There are many people that I've gotten close with in the past twelve months. There are many places I've visited, songs I've discovered, videos I've watched, products I've stumbled upon, and new faces that have become familiar to me. All of these added to what I was last August makes me a completely new person. I am reborn every single day through the endless amount of things left to be discovered, laid here perfectly for me to find by God's good grace.

Some things are still the same. I'm still plagued by anxiety sometimes, and I still complain about many things. I am frustrated by both my inability to commit to trying things I know I am bad at, and my lack of success when I expected otherwise. For example, my small apparel brand recently went from 30 to 130 followers, thanks to advice from a friend of mine. Although I was initially happy at the increase, I soon became disappointed every time I would open Instagram and find either no new followers or an actual decrease in followers. I always forget what I've been given already in favor of constant progress.

But I should know better than that. Progress is not a steady path, nor does it come easily with work. Progress, I've come to find, is very random. The success and improvement you may find may not always come as smoothly as you would expect. Hard work does not always guarantee results. But hard work is the only way that progress will ever come.

I find that I'm always eager to try new things, but not as eager to commit to doing something if I discover a low chance of success, or my inability to naturally be good at it. For example, I had written the plans and some of the script for an RPG video game called Executive, but had put it on hold (much like many of my other game projects) due to a lack of art. I don't exactly have artistic skill (although it is something I heavily covet), and I would never even try to make anything because it just honestly felt so bad to be trash at something. I would draw for hours on end and just be frustrated that I hadn't made anything worthwhile.

But the truth is, every practice session I would come up with something that I was at least semi-proud of. I would just never acknowledge it, because I knew that it was no good compared to what others could do. But isn't that the beauty of the whole thing? I'm no good, and will probably always be no good. Which gives me the opportunity to just keep climbing, keep reaching for the top. Even if I never surpass the greats, at least I will be surpassing my former self. And that, according to Ernest Hemingway, is what grants me true nobility.

So as the year begins and I find my way into another fall, in a different environment with infinite possibilities, I promise to be as optimistic as possible. Although I may not speak out about it, and I will probably still complain constantly about how my life sucks and I am depressed, I will try my best to be thankful for the progress that I have achieved thus far, and not be frustrated with what I haven't achieved. No more fear of failing. I've failed so many times already, so what's another addition to the pile? Nothing. It means nothing to me. It in no way hinders my ability to grow and continue. Okay, it might hurt my ego a little bit. Okay, a lot. But at the end of the day, I'm getting more out of it than I would just avoiding commitment out of fear. Like another quote I enjoy says, "It isn't happening as fast as you'd like, but it is happening."

I trust that it is.

- Sam