A thousand fearful images and dire suggestions glance along the mind when it is moody and discontented with itself. Command them to stand and show themselves, and you presently assert the power of reason over imagination. -Sir Walter Scott
Day Eight: Putting skin in the game
Teetering on the edge of finishing this little project. Nine days are flying by and has made me aware of just how far I really have to go. Knocking a few bricks out of the wall of my social anxiety has been difficult but is really only symbolic of the things I need to do on a daily basis. I’m not writing a summary just yet, but as I come to the close, I can’t help but ruminate upon the issues that vex me.
I sort of had day eight already planned out on what I needed to accomplish. I’ve had a short story that I should have finished a month ago but kept finding reasons not to. I was suffering the exact thing that Ira Glass is talking about in this video.
In my mind, the story was going to be fantastic and multi-layered, deep and properly plotted with great creepiness. It was going to be something that would knock the socks off of the people who enjoy good horror stories. As I wrote on it, each sentence was an indicator that it was going to fall short. I loved the idea of the story so much that part of me was trying to tuck it away and write it another day, a day when I was better. If you try, there is a chance you might fail, and failing is bad. We should fear failure, right? Wrong. Failure is natural, failure is good, failure is progress. I submitted a flash fiction piece to a crappy little magazine no one heard of and it got rejected. Along with the rejection was a critique of my use of dialog and speech patterns. That was something I could cling to as an element to try to improve. Failure allows for evolution of skill.
The eighth day I set out to finish that story, knowing it was going to fall short. When I posted that I completed it a friend offered to do a gentle edit. I initially balked. I figured I’d just post the story to the blog and call it done and move on. I mean having someone else read it and possibly suggest alterations… dare I say it was frightening? No, it wasn’t frightening, it was just uncomfortable. What if he suggests changes that dramatically improve it? What does that say about me? Why didn’t I know to implement the changes he suggested? Bloody angst.
I released it. I just went with the flow. I realize how hard it is to actually read someone else’s work, someone you know, and try to suggest improvements, point to areas that need to be clarified, to assist with the pacing of events. At times I know my word choices aren’t correct, or tend to be overdramatic. (Me?! Overdramatic?! Never!!) His offer to take this on and do even a gentle edit is an onus and one I know he is doing to help me improve.
I also set aside to day to focus on another area that needs improvement. Financial improvement. Now I know what I am about to say is going to get all the financial gurus up in arms but I took out a large loan against my 401k. My job has profit sharing which is sizable but it goes right into the 401k. I never actually get any lump sum cash in pocket from my job, so I don’t have the opportunity to catch up on anything. And due to tax problems from my last job in regards to my severance package, the IRS has collected my past two tax returns. Taking money from my 401k will let me pay off two small stupid debts (old credit card and Dell who is now charging me usury rates on a small sum of money and it is pissing me off), address a bigger debt, and catch up on my utilities. It will resolve a lot of anxiety I have over general stuff in my life and help get my budgeting back on track.
Doing anything with money gives me clammy hands. I hated my jobs where I handled money. I’ve worked at a credit union and in payroll. In my mind money is just numbers and it should be simple and straightforward, just like numbers. But money also has emotion tied to it. Money has greater meaning than just the sum. Money is used to indicate success. Money is used to open doors and create options. I’ve always had a poor relationship with money and I know it is partially due to my fear of being honest about how I use it. I’m not a squanderer, I’m just not a saver.
I know taking the 401k loan seems like more ‘anti-saving’ behavior from me, but I’m looking at it as taking money I have, putting it towards debts, and then paying myself back. I’m not really creating another debt (even though technically I am). Now part of this, the follow up to dealing with this part, will be the phone calls I need to make to get pay off amounts and get that sorted out. Since the loan won’t be processed within two days, I won’t be able to count these calls as more fears conquered. It will be the follow through though, to see if I am actually applying the lessons I’ve learned from this project.
Again, I’ve gotten some great feedback from readers, giving me a lot of positive encouragement. It really is appreciated. The fact you are reading the updates to this personal project is exciting to me. I may be a misanthropic recluse hermit philosopher, but I do enjoy an audience. Seeing that people are reading has made me hope that it isn’t just the diary aspect that keeps people reading but hopefully there is some element of this that makes the reader consider the fears in his or her life that may actually be obstacles to achieving valued goals.