WARNING: personal, heartfelt content ahead
I've been feeling overwhelmed by knowledge lately. Part of it is being around students and professors and literature again, and part of it is just being of an age where it's my time to figure out where I stand in this world.
It's a frightening thing to realize that the more you learn the less sure you will be of anything. And to realize on an emotional level that nothing is certain or sure. To challenge everything. Which is to say question long-held thoughts and look at them from every angle like holding a leaf up to the sun to see the veins and flesh.
Exciting, yes. Invigorating too. But frightening.
And last night I was feeling overwhelmed by it all. I just wanted to tune out, watch TV and drown out my inner critic and philosopher. I wanted the comfortable, familiar, easy thoughts.
And of course that's ok. It's all about finding balance. But I knew I was just returning to what was easy because I was afraid of challenging myself. I was afraid that I might find myself inadequate in the grand scheme of things.
And then comes that cycle of behaving badly, berating yourself for it, and then doing it more because you feel bad about yourself. That cycle that traps us with food, TV, drinking or whatever vice you fancy.
Then, I got an email from my dad that told me I was capable of forming great ideas and disastrous mistakes. But that the key was not to fear the mistakes or be crippled by them. He said he didn't know why, but he felt compelled to tell me.
He said there were things I had known as a child that some struggle to learn over a lifetime. I don't know if that's true, but knowing that he believed it enough to write me late one random Monday night was enough to make me believe him when he said that it wasn't pretentious of me to set my eyes on great things.
And the reason I'm writing this is that it didn't seem fair that I should be the only one to hear such kind words. This is all pretty smarmy and out of my comfort zone, but I wanted others to hear and believe the same thing. That there is incredible potential in you, and it will take you to extreme heights and devastating lows, but never so low you can't climb back up.
There are people in this world who will cheer your triumphs and be as forgiving of your failures as you would be of theirs. And those that don't aren't worth your time.
So don't be afraid.