Broken Promises

It’s strange how things seem to never go as planned. At the beginning of the year, I made several resolutions about this blog. None of them were accomplished. For the first seven months of this year, I did not write a single post. As the months started to pass, it became increasingly difficult to write. It became more and more difficult to make a post that would “make up” for my absence. Of course no one really holds such expectations, and if they did, would postponing blogging make the situation any better? No. It’s clear now that I was the only person holding me back.

But why is this the case? Why is it so difficult to do this, especially since I want to? Perhaps that’s the problem. Whenever I resolve to do something and to do it well, something I want to do, it becomes that much harder to do it. I want to do research. I want to prepare my lectures. I want to write blog posts. Yet, each resolution, each striving gives way to inaction, inability. Why?

Is it perfectionism? The gap between achievement and potential always exists. It’s easier to imagine the perfect solution, the perfect lecture, the perfect blog post. Actually doing it, by construction, is impossible. “Brain crack“,  a phrase termed by Ze Frank, illustrates this problem perfectly. What my mind imagines outweighs what reality will ever produce. Nothing ever produced is without flaw. Each lecture will have awkward phrases and unexplained concepts. Best that all my thoughts stay in my mind, where they can persist unchallenged. Best that my effort remain minimal, lest I realize the limits of my ability. Best be captivated by my own imaginings of success than be let down by the reality of actual action.

And then at the same time, am I afraid of success? If this blog attracts attention, then I will have readers with expectations to meet. Nothing is more challenging to the status quo than an escalation of quality. If I give a good lecture one day, a drop in quality will be all the more noticeable. If I prove a result, people might think I actually know something. If you show people what you’re capable of, then people will expect that much of you. Despite how the movies go, life isn’t made up of a climax. There’s no big showdown at the end to showcase your best. No big game at the end. It doesn’t end. After the talk, there will be another. And another. What if I tire? What if I succeed only to eventually fail?

I don’t have the answers. I never do. But nonetheless, when I don’t find myself thinking about doing things, I go out and do them. Not because I will never fail. Or because my imagination matches reality. But because what I want to do is worth being done.


2 Responses to Broken Promises

  1. laura says:

    Thanks for a very insightful post. If it helps any, you’re not alone. I’m looking forward to the next one, even if you think it doesn’t meet your aspirations.

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