I have been thinking about what to write here for about 2 months now. There is something very daunting about starting up this column on the web for me. In recent years, I have revisited my college blog (a xanga, if any of you even know what that is!) where I posted my thoughts in a similar fashion. Although I felt very cultured and witty at the time, I mostly feel embarrassed now of what I had written there. I've realized that putting something out on the internet is like getting a tattoo; it is almost always permanent and you are likely to regret it for some reason when you are "more mature".*
As a child, I would approach each new project with apprehension because I knew that once I let my crayons sully the picture, there would be no changing my mind about what to draw. You might think that this implies that I am a very careful and precise person, but you would be wrong. In reality, I approached these projects with full gusto once I decided to start, throwing caution to the wind, and drawing things so quickly that I often questioned the way it turned out (another post for another time).
So, why get stuck in the fear of starting something new? I think the concept of FOMO (fear of missing out) describes my indecision pretty well. I am always afraid that I'm missing out on the best thing, so I take my experiences and compare them to a hypothetical ideal that I would never have been able to attain anyway. "What if I should have written my first post about my gluten free journey!? What if people would like pictures of puppies better!?" All of these are real thoughts that have gone through my mind. Instead of writing something at all, I waited for "the best" post to come to mind.^
There is also this idea of perfection and being scared that I will inevitably fall short of it. The yoga sutras discuss the idea of of kleshas, or the obstacles that prevent us from being free and content. There are five of them: avidya (ignorance), asmita (ego), raga (attachment), dvesha (rejection), and abhinivesa (fear). These terms are defined in many ways by many different authors, but I really love the way T.K.V. Desikachar describes the concepts as a tree in The Heart of Yoga. He says that at the root of the five kleshas is avidya (ignorance), which shows itself in the other four branches. He writes this about abhinivesa:
This is perhaps the most secret aspect of avidya and its expression is found on many levels in our everyday life. We feel uncertain. We have doubts about our position in life. We are afraid that people will judge us negatively. We feel uncertain when our lifestyle is upset. We do not want to grow old. All of these feelings are expressions of abhinivesa, the fourth branch of avidya. (pg. 11)
Our fears are grounded in a false idea of reality- that any of the things we are afraid of ultimately matter. It is true that I will probably second guess something about this post. It is also true that some people will like this post and some people won't. However, it is NOT true that either my opinions of myself or another person's opinions of me determine whether I am a good person or not. If living in NYC has taught me anything, it is that everyone is "too busy" to even care about your opinion.*^
I leave you with a concept discussed in the Huffington Post: JOMO (Joy of Missing Out). This catchy acronym was put forward as a foil to FOMO. Author Dr Danny Penman was quoted as saying, "Most people, most of the time, are simply worrying about missing out rather than actually losing out." If anything, my first post will at least serve as a reminder for myself to try something new, with just a little bit less worrying. Wish me luck!
*For those of you who know me, this is not really a great analogy because I have many tattoos and actually regret only 1 of them sort of.
^It didn't, by the way. I just started typing and this is what came out. Don't worry, there will be recipes and pictures of puppies to follow.
*^I am just kidding about this. In reality, I learned this lesson every time I tried to convince someone that they were wrong. NYC is actually growing on me, in spite of its hustle and bustle.