It’s been a while, blog-o-sphere. I’ve been too busy to have time to myself to think and write. Or…when I had time to myself, I used it for other things, like sleeping, or reading, or playing (yes, 22year olds still play).
But, now that it’s summer, and I have long, solitary hours in the lab to think, I haven’t been able to stop.
Weird thing about active imaginations is they never really shut up. It can be handy, if you’re bored, but if you’re introspective, it borders on the dangerous. If you spend too much time thinking about yourself, you start doubting everything you are, everything you’ve done, everything you could do, everything you want.
Once you spend a few weeks doing that–and believe me, I have–you start to wonder, who am I, exactly? Sounds pretty weird coming from a confident person (or at least a mostly-confident person). Sounds pretty weird coming from a person who’s known at least an outline of what her career would be since she was 6. Sounds pretty weird, and totally conceivable, to me.
Doubt is a funny thing: when people confront you about it, you never have it, but when you’re alone, when you ask yourself…you will always have Doubt. But once you admit to yourself that you have it, it doesn’t begin to lighten, to back off, it just gets heavier and more prevalent. It begins to consume every thought, particularly when you have extended periods of alone time.
For me it’s particularly present when I return to my hometown. It’s a small enough town that there are memories on pretty much every route to every location; memories that are good, bad, or a little of both. These memories plague my thoughts as I cruise around, taunting me with past decisions, some still tantalizing, some discouraging, some merely nostalgic. It makes for a very interesting internal dialogue, with too many “what-ifs” to count. These what-ifs are formed by that Doubt that loves to haunt the recesses of my memories, my inmost thoughts. It’s a nasty thing, Doubt, that shows its face on vacation, on relaxation-time, on alone time (which is much needed for this closet introvert). This year, it took me breaking down to my mom for us to realize that it’s not just me that goes through this. Yes, there’s nothing new under the sun, no, I’m not special in my brand of issues, but this particular internal pain of doubting decisions seemed so strange that I was sure not many felt it. Turns out the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
The story gets better, though, I promise.
We realized some things, my mom and I–well, she realized them years ago, she led me to these thoughts during that kitchen-table-breakdown.
There will always be Doubt. There will always be “what-ifs,” that’s the fine print that comes with an independent mind, with a free will. There will always be one road you didn’t take, one choice you didn’t choose. That’s the backwards joy that comes with the imaginations we’ve been given: there is always more than one option, more than one decision you can make. There is always more than one voice you can listen to: Doubt, Fear, Pride, Joy, Hatred, Faith, Lust, Selfishness, Truth, the list goes on.
You just have to decide: which voice do you listen to? Which voice will give you the confidence to respond to Doubt’s “what-ifs” with a defiant “so-what?” I’ve chosen what I’ve chosen because of the voices I’ve listened to. No, it’s not the same voice all the time, yes, my life would look different if I only chose to listen to only one, yes, there are things that could have been different…but they’re not. They are what they are, and until we master time travel, Doubt just serves as a painful reminder that we’re human, and faith in ourselves will lead to trouble.
Faith in the voice that you listen to will dictate your response when that voice of Doubt whispers softly in your ear.
You have to choose which voice to listen to. I’ve chosen, and Doubt won’t win this one, no matter how sweet that whisper is.