Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Limit of Dreams

Bernita recently said (on Jaye's Blahg):

Underneath it all, hiding under other fears - of rejection, of promotion - is the devastating fear that one might have to accept that one might just not be good enough.

I found this a very potent statement. I always love it when someone can cut right to the heart of a discussion like that. Nicely done, Bernita.

Finding out, for a fact, that you aren't good enough is devastating. I got a spoonful of that realisation in grad school. I discovered that I could do it - I could keep up with everyone else - but only barely, and only by working much harder than they did. Eventually, I had to admit to myself I simply wasn't intelligent enough to be a research scientist.

Ouch. "Not intelligent enough" is nasty. That's biological. You can't do anything to fix it.

It wouldn't bother me a sliver to find out I'm not physically capable of being an Olympic speed skater, but I've always been proud of my mind. To hit the biological limit of my intelligence, and to see that what I had dreamed of was beyond me, was horrible.

So what happens if I find out I'm not good enough at writing to realise my dreams?

The short answer is it will be devastating again and then I'll get over it again. Maybe I'll try my hand at painting instead. Yes, I dream of success, but I enjoy writing regardless, and the point of anything I do is to build an amazing life that I'm proud of. I don't have to receive the validation of strangers to be proud of my talents and what I can do with them.

There's good reason to tell kids they can do anything they set their mind to. It isn't true, but it's far better that they try and hit the wall than to never try.

And the thick skin you develop by repeatedly hitting walls? Hey, that just prepares you for being a writer!

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