I am on an important self-reflective journey to take back control of my mind and life. Though it’s just the beginning, I already faced my fears multiple times. My fear of failure and success took over my life by not only creating a lot of stress but also numbing me from emotions.
I moved back to Taiwan in 2016 and frequently stressed out about looking for a job and trying to adapt to my environment. The stress consumed me. What started out as de-stressing by watching YouTube videos and TV shows turned into a distraction and a way for me to run away from my problems. Because of that, I fell into a deeper rut.
There were multiple times where I felt motivated to change, but didn’t because I was detached from the situation and from myself. I was looking from outside in and saw a person who desperately needed to face her fears. However, I couldn’t fully feel why I needed to change, and ended up back to my old habits.
Stress will never go away, but I have the power to decide how I deal with it and move forward. This time felt different. It was the right concoction of things I did to help push me in the right direction. For my March + February Challenges post, I wrote about how I gave up, but didn’t dive too deep into why. While discussing how I could improve my post with Juliet, questions came up that forced me to think about my fears.
Suffice to say, I broke down.
It was scary but in that moment, I knew I could not continue running away from real life. The emotions were taking a toll on me. But it was good because it was an eye-opening moment.
I don’t know how I got to this point. For a long time I suppressed emotions and pushed away any feelings of stress, anxiety, and shame. And when anything exciting happened, I didn’t feel it fully either. So I was stuck in this middle ground feeling indifferent about everything. This is the worst place you could ever be stuck in. Breaking down and realizing where I was helped me see that I wanted to take action to feel positive again. Feelings are good, whether they’re positive or negative because you can’t have one without the other.
I changed how I tackled my issues. I used to rely solely on motivation to propel me towards change but motivation doesn’t last. This time I decided to create an environment I needed to cultivate change:
- I started reading more self-improvement books. One book was about procrastination and I learned a lot about my fear of failure and fear of success. Having a better understanding of myself meant that I had the information for finding solutions to these problems.
- I also started listening to more podcasts which gave me some insight into other people’s experiences. If they could overcome their fears, I could too.
I wanted to share something I did that I’m proud of. It may not seem like a big deal to some people, but for me it was a breakthrough. Last week, I got stressed out about writing a blog post (what’s new?) that was due on Friday. Usually when my fears take a hold of me, I withdraw from my mind. I feel a lack of motivation to do anything and don’t get much done. This can stretch out over weeks.
This time was different. I had a semi-productive week getting other things done but once Thursday rolled around, I slid back into my old habits. I took a nap and distracted myself all the while knowing the post deadline was looming over my head. I felt a little disappointed that I had let myself go back to that state because I worked hard to move away from that. On Friday, I told myself it was okay as long as I got back on track again today. That was a big improvement from when I used to spend more than a week in that head space. I realized it was okay to release my stress but I shouldn’t let it become a distraction.
I will be honest and say I’m tired. Changing your mental state takes time but it also takes a lot of mental energy. When combined with trying to get your life together, it can be a lot. But I know putting in the work will be worth it. I wonder if apathy is something I’ll have to fight in my head for the rest of my life. Maybe I need a mental gym consistently in my life so that I stay on track and don’t fall back into old patterns. Will it eventually get easier? I don’t know. But I’m just going to take it day by day.