One of my greatest fears is messing up or making mistakes. This can be a healthy fear because it makes me strive to do my best, but I've let it keep me from doing things I want, and need, to do.
Somewhere in my brain, I decided that messing up was not only bad for me, it was bad for everyone else too. For example, it would be the end of the world if I fumbled with my mobility skills because someone might think that blind people were not able to be self self-sufficient or travel safely. If I spilled a glass of water, that action would have a ripple effect down to all other blind people and people would ask us all to use sippy cups. I'm exaggerating slightly, but you get the idea, right?
This concept didn't just stick to blindness; it stuck in other corners of my life. In my writing, I was always afraid to make a mistake in how I talked about a source article or person. When I wrote for the school newspaper, I was afraid that my sources would hate me for getting something wrong. It was even worse for the community newspaper, even though I was only speaking from my personal experience. My articles might give a wrong impression. In this journal, and in my delicious links, I fear summarizing a source wrong, missing the point or using the writing in a way it wasn't intended. Thus, if you look at my delicious links, you'll see several links with notes that say "great article", "beautiful writing", or some other fluff. That's not to say that these aren't great articles, they are. The problem is that my synopsis of "great article", means nothing! How angry would we all be if the next issue of "Braille Book Review" came out with book synopses like that?
This attitude puts a damper on activities or memories of them. I left CSUN, having enjoyed myself thoroughly, but wondering if people thought I was a bumbling idiot. I didn't have any proof of that attitude, in fact, I got to meet a lot of cool people and learn new things. They've even talked to me after the conference, which they wouldn't have to do. In that case, some of my fears were probably warranted. I was so in awe of all of the cool people, experiences and technology, I probably didn't always act like myself. I was also stubborn, hard-headed and dumb about the way I managed the pain (I don't think being told that you have to stop throwing up so you can get on the plane home before it leaves because you're in so much pain shows a good sense of pain management). The point is, that in this case, I spent too much time worrying about all of these issues, instead of relaxing, being myself and having fun. Being afraid to make a mistake probably lead me to make more. And the times I spent after the conference while I in so much pain were complicated by the extra, unneeded stress.
This attitude is really harmful. It leads to excess stress, which in turn leads to more pain. When I spend time worrying about making mistakes, I lose a chance to make a difference. What I say, do or write might end up helping someone. Maybe, just maybe, one small action, word or article can change someone's thoughts. It will probably be a small change, but small changes can lead to bigger changes. Small changes can lead to movements. If I'm so focused on myself, worrying about what others think of me or fearing that I will ruin it for EVERYONE, it's egotistical. Instead, I can focus on the moment and make a difference.
This attitude is also spiritually unhealthy. When I focus on me, I'm making myself seem bigger than God. Do I really mean to say that God is smaller than my screw-ups? It puts it in perspective, doesn't it? God knows I'm going to make mistakes. Yes, I should strive to grow, but striving to grow doesn't mean being fearful of making mistakes. I need to let go and let God as they say.
Imagine if I'd been too afraid to attempt going to college. What good would that have done? Sure, I made mistakes last year, but I also got a huge chance to grow. I'm not afraid of living on my own anymore. I've seen God move in my life too many times this year to want to take it back. Or, what if I'd been afraid to go to convention in Vegas on my own? I would have lost the chance to see some very cool people and things. If nothing else, that convention taught me about safety and that I really could trust God and myself.
So, before all of you that made it to the bottom of this, I'm making a pledge to try. I'm going to try to let go and feel free to try. Maybe I'll make mistakes, I might even end up with tears and frustration. But I will not deprive God of the chance to use me, myself of the chance to grow or anyone who wants to watch the chance to learn with me.