My most difficult challenges were not the course work…
The first year I felt the need to be MI6-style secretive about why I was going back to school. After all, there was no way of knowing if I could even do school at my age. Everyone talks about how hard it is to learn once you’re old. What if I failed a math test? I hadn’t thought 37 was that old, but in fact it only took 1 week of sitting in a classroom full of two hundred 18 year olds to realize that 37 wasn’t too old to learn, but it was a little old to be in first year university. In the end, I got through first year with the results I needed but it was messy – blood and guts, figuratively speaking. My nerves and the inside of my head looked like Albert Einstein’s hair – all the time.
I spent the majority of this year locked in a vicious inner battle. It was ring-side seats at the main event:
Fear of Success vs. Fear of Failure
This event was non-stop. Incessant. The heart of the struggle was an age-old dilemma…
…In order to survive, let’s say we entertain certain positive ideas about ourselves. If we use these ideas to protect ourselves by wrapping them around us like a safety blanket, then we find ourselves in a comfortable place. But if we take off that safety blanket made of positive ideas about ourselves and attempt to prove these ideas true by throwing our blankets out into the real world, then we must stand there for awhile unsheltered and unprotected. And we must wait like that. Either our ideas will be proven true, and we will be able to wrap ourselves in a powerful new blanket called belief, or our ideas will be proven false. And as we stand there, we begin to fear that if our ideas about ourselves are proven false then we will be left unsheltered and unprotected forever. And that thought is so terrifying that most of us do not wait long enough to prove our ideas true. Instead we snatch back our safety blanket made of unproven ideas and wrap ourselves up in it again, and we live our lives comfortably rather than powerfully, never REALLY knowing if we are who we hope we are.
Year two was spent with my eyes closed, trying not to take back the blanket,
I opened my eyes. I realized that I was not going to take back the blanket. I had no way of knowing if I would be accepted for the next step of my goal, and the outcome still really, really mattered to me. But there comes a point along the way where you realize you’re just going to keep going.
I am quite certain that this Blanket Struggle is a very common experience. Take from it what you will. Do with it what you must.