There’s always an argument to feel like a loser. On any given day, it’s easy to make a list of excuses in support of not trying. No one has enough time. A lack of money is real, and some dreams are so complicated and distant, it’s hard to even find a first step.
Maybe it feels like you missed your chance; that you are too old or too fat, or any other self-loathing idea out there. And people are happy to agree that you should be mature and let it go. They’ll say it’s just common sense. Just your lot in life. Soon enough the list of reasons to not try starts to sound like the rational and healthy thing to do. The Don’t Try List is valid.
So that spark of desire, the dream too precious to speak aloud, gets packed up and stored in the garage with old camping gear. But you know exactly where it is every moment.
Growing up, our family watched the Olympics on TV and each event came with a warning: Never you. This was something others did. People who were gifted or special or rich, but certainly never one of us. Failure was the only possible result for people like us and it was stupid to think anything else. Smarter to not try and not reveal your failure.
As an adult I was surprised to hear so many athletes credit their inspiration to watching the same sporting events I did. They heeded the call and started a different list that included taking a chance and courage and possibility.
I still remember the first item on my Reason to Try List. It that came to me as a kid watching the Olympics: Somebody has to do it. Somebody has to win the gold. It was common sense, too. Somebody swims or runs or skis anyway and maybe they just win by luck of trying.
In the beginning, my special gift was being an argumentative and contrary child who naturally disagreed. Bull-headed was the term my parents used, and it wasn’t a compliment. Still, it has served me well.
There are two sides to every question, but could it really be as simple as making two lists and then picking one? How much do we give up our power and let fear rule our circumstances by default? Why does potential embarrassment deserve such respect?
I’ve always kept my hair short and I’m surprised over the years how many women have confided in me that they wish they could cut their hair. They confide it–as if it’s an Olympic event that requires elite physical prowess or profound wild rebellion. If we’ve lost the power on something as superficial as hair, what else has been lost?
I’m not saying that anyone can win the gold medal; it isn’t true. And life is more complicated than a haircut. But I am saying there are always two lists. It isn’t that one is right and one is wrong. Each list has a cost and a reward. The thing that matters is that we feel we have a choice. Choice is power.
Week 10 since launching my submissions. This week I got a rejection from the one publisher that had asked for my whole manuscript. The good news: I could tell from the note that they had actually read it. Their reason for not taking it was that it didn’t fit their editorial mix. I agree–their book list didn’t include anything like mine. I knew this publisher was a long shot but it did tweak their interest enough to spend time reading it and I’ll take that as a compliment.
So I’m back at square one, hoping for a nibble on a book deal. I can’t say I’m thrilled with my progress, but I’m sticking my thumbs in my ears and wiggling my fingers at the list not chosen. Good or bad, this book adventure is my choice, as undeniable as the spikey hairs on my head.
What choices are you celebrating today?