In college, my friends and I made up the game "D Squared S" also known as "Deepest Darkest Secrets." We would sit around late at night telling each other our innermost thoughts and feelings. Despite the intimacy of the game, the secrets often involved new found crushes or worries about social circumstances. But regardless, we loved to play the game, shrieking at each others' personal gossip or listening to one's concerns.
Recently, there has been something deep and quiet that has arisen in the trenches of my heart. It has sat there so quietly that for a very long time I didn't even know it was there. And every once in a while, I'll think to myself, "can this be? is this true?" But only recently did I finally admit to myself that indeed this secret is how I truly feel. And it was so shocking and surprising and seemingly out of character that it took me a while to register.
My D Squared S is:
I don't believe in myself.
That is a stark and scary statement to hear myself say aloud and I still want to pretend that it's probably not true. However I cannot let it remain cloaked and entrenched in other thoughts, remaining unrecognizable in my consciousness. I have recognized it as what it is. And while I may be confident that I am competent in my daily tasks or profession, and I may be optimistic in my future goals, my deepest darkest fear is that I will not lead the life of purpose of which I think I am capable. I do not trust myself to do what I think I should do.
A few weeks ago, at a Faherty Family Barbeque, I stood in the kitchen washing off scallops while my eventual family members, Jack and Michael, prepped the meat. The men had just suffered the loss of their dad and father-in-law, respectively. Despite the upbeat tone of the night, a heaviness weighed in the air that allowed for a deepness of discussion. As we seasoned and chopped, Michael suddenly asked, "What is your biggest fear?" While my normal response usually would have been squirrels and turbulence, after a second (and the reality of the funeral the day before), I responded "the death of someone I loved." And then I paused, realizing that my statement was not entirely true. Fearing the death of another, while rational, is entirely outside my control. And the things that I truly fear the most are not what I cannot control, but that which I can, but do not. So, I changed my answer and it was the first time I outwardly admitted my secret to others:
I am not talking about the failure to attain physical wealth or prestige or fame. I am not talking about the failure of relationships. I am talking about failing my true self, failing my spirit--that is, the failure to pursue the journey that my soul has dictated I must pursue. Of course, I am still figuring out what I am "supposed to do," but the signs have pointed to a particular road and it's just up to me to follow the signs and listen to directions. But so often, though I see the signs up ahead, I subconsciously (or consciously) choose to take a side-trip, distracted by social fun or self-absorption or security or internet distractions. So my biggest fear is that I'll stray from that "yellow brick road" and wake up one day in complete comfort, removed from the realities of the poor and the hungry and the struggling, and think, "what about all those who are suffering that I have left behind?" "What about the people whose paths I refused to cross because it was inconvenient?" "What about the dreams that I had in my youth that I let deaden because of proclaimed impracticalities?" And if I have to ask those questions one day and I cannot honestly say that I pursued my heart's desires, the tears will fall...because I have failed.
And this is my fear. Instead of convincing myself otherwise, I'm trying to embrace this fear and convert it to a motivator as opposed to an inhibitor. I try to carry the fear along with me so when I start to go astray it can poke its head up, but before it can whisper "I told you so," I'm going to U-turn back to my path. I'm going to let the shadow of a girl who doesn't believe in herself follow me around as I go, knowing that a shadow has no power to dictate the direction of a woman walking in the sun. And then perhaps one day, in my older age, I will share secrets with my daughter at bedtime, and tell that my deepest darkest secret was that "I once believed that I couldn't do it, but I did."