It is so hard to believe that we are nearly a full month into 2016. I used to hear older folks say how much time flies but now I actually feel this sentiment and that’s not always the best feeling.
There was so much fresh excitement for me entering into 2015. After a hell of a rebuilding year (2014), I was fully optimistic that 2015 would some great things my way. And 2015 did not disappoint. However, the feeling was not the same going into 2016.
To be clear, there are some exciting things that are expected this year – graduation, finally being able to work in the field that I’m passionate about, hulk smashing my comprehensive and national licensure exams. All of these things are exciting…but they would require a lot of work to accomplish. None of these things are a given.
The enormity and the weight of all I’m expecting to accomplish this year has beared down on me over the past couple of weeks. On the days that I think about it all too much, my anxiety shoots through the roof and I get a major headache. I’ve had to consider why I have found myself crouching back in anxiety instead of strongly walking forward to prepare myself for success.
What I identified firstly is the fear of failure, which I have personally contended with since…whenever. Ashley doesn’t like to lose. Ashley hates the way she looks when she loses. So Ashley tends to go with what is the “sure win” – staying in what I know is my lane and shining there. While there is something to be said about knowing how to stay in one’s lane (especially when it comes to others and their business), it is another thing entirely to block yourself in. I think of when I first learned to drive and how I always wanted to drive in the far right lane. It didn’t matter how fast I knew I could drive, I just stayed to the right because it didn’t involve me doing those uncomfortable things like merging and dealing with faster or more aggressive drivers. However, there came a point where I was tired of being slowed down by exclusively driving in the far right lanes. I eventually built my confidence up to drive in the middle lane and then the far left lane and now – well, let’s just say I’m a comfortable driver :-). The fear of doing something wrong, the fear of crashing and burning, the fear of missing important clues that are key to defensive driving – all of those things were greatly reduced once I decided not to limit myself to the comfortable lane. Not to mention that the far right lane more oft than not contains some of the slowest drivers ever. That works for them but it doesn’t always work for me. So I learned to adjust. And I will have to do a lot of adjusting this year with my personal goals – whether I succeed or fall flat on my face.
Secondly, the goals I am aiming to reach this year require much prep work. I am taking two major exams (six months apart), both of which have a million ways to study for them with tons of information. Combine that with two classes this semester, obtaining my last internship for this summer, and securing employment in the mental health field in a timely manner so I can continue to pay my bills. There is much work to be done and much of it happens on the front end. And the way my anxiety is set up…yeah. I get overwhelmed.
But this isn’t the first year where I’ve felt that I’ve had much on the line. It surely will not be the last either. Reminding myself of that helps because there’s no good reason for me to be paralyzed in fear when I’ve achieved big goals before. I’ve made it a practice lately to try to hold myself accountable for those negative automatic thoughts that pop into my head when considering everything.
And that isn’t the easiest thing. Sometimes even the most confident of us fall prey to self-doubt and fear of the unknown. Most people have these moments, whether they admit them publicly or not. But it’s in these moments when it’s helpful to have a good memory and an active hope that pushes you to do what you need to do. A good memory helps you to remember how you’ve come and overcome before; an active hope propels you into action and squelches the crippling fear. Wake up every day determined to do as one of my favorite bloggers, Mattie James, would say and “David your Goliath.” He had five small stones and strategically took the giant down.
So I’m determined to do what’s within my scope. I can prepare – every day – a little for the upcoming events. I have already been sending out my resume. I have ordered test prep materials and have already begun to dive in. With each step of preparation, that giant seems a little smaller. And on December 31, 2016, I believe that I will look back at this year and will be able to say that it was a giant year of successes, unexpected favor, and new beginnings.