And in some sense that is literally true. I am trapped in a body wracked with pain and limited mobility and often crippling headaches that render me unproductive for days and sometimes weeks.
But I am talking about something we all struggle with. We want to be what we perceive as our perfect self. We see that there is a version of ourselves that we want to be. Maybe that has to do with our job, or our kids or where we live, but overall I think we all see a version of ourselves that has more to do with habits and hangups than it does with outward appearance.
"If only"... if only I could quit smoking. If only I could lose weight. If only I could be a better spouse. If only I could stop doing x. If only I could start doing y.
Friends, "if only" will kill you. Literally. I'm being very serious here. Chasing that "if only" will literally kill you. Maybe not quickly, but it will steal your life and leave you staring at your mortality with a wasted life.
We all want to be better. We all want to do better. And that's good. We should all want to be our true self. The problem comes when we look toward that true self and weigh it on the scale with 'if only' and see the huge pile of 'if only' outweighing the potential of reaching the true self.
And we feel like a failure. And we feel small and worthless. We feel this way because it just seems like an insurmountable mountain of 'ifs' that we need to overcome to become our true self.
Friends, let me make this really clear.
You are perfect as your are.
Let me say again, YOU are PERFECT as YOU ARE.
YOU ARE PERFECT AS YOU ARE. RIGHT HERE RIGHT NOW.
I don't care what your boss or your doctor or your church or family or anyone else is telling you.
Your true self is who you are right now. It's not an ideal that you have to waste your life to achieve.
Ok so you have this issue or that. You might have an addiction you need to deal with. You might be overweight. Yes, those are real things that you need to work on.
But those aren't the real you. Those aren't barriers to get to your true self. They're just globs of dirt that you need to brush off. Your true self is you as you are right now.
Everything you want to be is here. Now. Anything you see as a barrier is an illusion.
What is really stopping you from being who you are? Fear. Specifically fear of failure.
I have one question for you: Who flipping cares?
Ask yourself this: If you had unlimited resources and unlimited time, what would you do with your life? Put aside the mansion and the sex partners and the piles of guns and consider, really consider, what you would DO? Put aside your family and friends and the selfish things and consider actually what you would DO as a vocation. What is that THING you would DO that you want to be. Is it a writer? An athlete? A philanthropist? Movie maker? Comedian? Lecturer? Teacher?
Now ask yourself this: Even though you don't have unlimited resources and time, what can you do to do that thing you want to do? What is honestly stopping you? Put aside your need to make enough money to eat and have a place to live, that's your job, it's not who you are. What can you do, in spite of your job, to become that thing you want to be?
There is really only one answer, isn't there? Fear. What if I do it and I suck at it?
Let me let you in on a little secret. You will suck at it. Everyone that has done something you consider great has also done something that is a complete disaster. But here's the secret:
They kept trying. They KEEP trying. They DO.
I am writing as much to myself as to you. I live in fear of failure. Of failing my family, of failing my church, of failing my God. (Yes, I am a 'religious' person, this may or may not apply to you). What do I want my real self to be?
I just want my real self to be .... real. I don't want to be the mask that I put on to hide my pain and disability. I don't want to be the mask I put on to hide my addictions and stuggles.
I want to be that person that lives without fear.
I am in my late fourties. My life is probably more than half over. My father died in his 50s. I could lament over how much time I have wasted. I could cry over how many lost opportunites I have had. I could be angry about how much time I have wasted in fear.
But I'm not going to do that. I don't want you to do that. I want you to dare to be real. It doesn't matter what you define as your real self. Just DO IT.
Do it. Go. Do. Fail. Get up. Fail some more. Who cares? What is the worst that could happen? Well, ok, you could die. But unless what you are trying to is skydiving or Russian Roulette, is death really on the list of worst things that could happen?