December 2011

Just Let It Go

Even if--especially if--it's painful

We seem to hold onto a lot of things in our lives out of the sheer habit of holding onto them. Maybe it’s comfortable, or maybe it’s just easy. Sometimes it’s simply hard to let go of, so we avoid it. But there are many things in our lives that we simply outgrow, and that’s okay; we just need to acknowledge that it’s okay, and to give ourselves permission to let go.

Overcome an Irrational Fear

Because life is too short for this silliness!

It has recently come to my attention that I have an extremely irrational fear of getting “in trouble,” something that has obviously carried over from my childhood. I haven’t stolen a thing since I was four and took a toy from a babysitter’s tween daughter (which I felt guilty about for years, even after returning it), I’ve never been in trouble with the law, and I’ve only gotten into trouble at school a few times over stupid things, like running in the hallway or speaking during “silence.” As if children weren’t asked to be quiet for long enough.

I’m not Catholic. I wasn’t really even raised Christian, though I did attend church now and then. I just have this horrible sense of guilt or foreboding, and I think much of it is due to growing up in a very poor trailer park—the poorest in our semi-rural town—surrounded by drug dealers and meth heads and frequent cop visits every week, and part of it’s probably just due to the fear instilled during the whole “educating” process that most kids are subjected to. Stay in line or you’ll go to jail!

Do You Check Off Partially-Done Tasks?

Cheater, cheater, pumpkin-eater!

A few years ago, I checked off items from my Living To Do list that were only partly done. For example, I knew that “Walk on a cobblestone street” meant somewhere in Europe in my mind, but I checked it off after eating at a restaurant that featured one. (The joke was on me; I won a scholarship to teach in Europe the following year!) I can think of at least a dozen things on my list that I checked off this way, just to feel as if I’d done more than I really had.

But there’s no honesty in that—and your list is really for you, and no one else. So what if you don’t get it done, or if you don’t get to it this year? It’s your dream. Don’t alter it or minimize it just to check it off.