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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Unfinished Business

In middle school, I joined the track team.
(If you know me personally, you may laugh.  ...Ok, that's enough.)

I wasn't popular, and there was a boy I liked and talked to next to never.  Or never.  He was on the track team.  It's not a very complicated story.
The first day, we had to run for practice (I was shocked and terrified).  This was torture, and I twisted my ankle.  The. first. day.
To this day, I can't remember if I actually physically twisted my ankle or if I "oh my goodness this is the worst thing ever" twisted my ankle.
This injury allowed me to go to one track meet and wear a very cute sweatshirt.  I was on the injured list.
And then it was over.  My track career... finished before it ever began.

Really though, it goes deeper than middle school track...

I have always loved journaling.  Wanting to be a writer since my seventh-grade creative writing class (which I will be writing about at some point), I've maintained an insatiable love of the blank page and the unmarked notebook.

I have a high stack of journals that are just half full.
They all start with such hopeful intentions of getting to that last page.
Years and years of the unfinished piled up in the spare bedroom closet.

Until this last year, I'm not sure I've ever finished out a journal to the last page.
This may seem silly, but it's always bothered me.  For years, I've carried a slight niggling dissatisfaction with the fact.  I even marked in one journal how far I'd gotten.

It was a little over half-way full.
Incidentally, this page was the last one I wrote on.  I think maybe I was 15.

I don't know if it's the love of pursuing something brand new or the fear of sticking it out that made me like this.  I think it was a little bit of both.

Mostly, though, my issue was probably (definitely) fear.
Many of these notebooks are riddled with unfulfilled promises to myself to be better, to be more committed.  Some have first paragraphs of stories I'd started with very high hopes.

Even now, typing this, I want to erase all that I've written here, throw away the pictures.
Frustration with myself at being this way, with having a difficult time telling you about it... All of it sits in my bones and I have to wage war to continue.  Slicing joint and marrow.  Pushing onward.

For an aspiring writer, you'd think I would've spent years staying up late, pouring my soul and sweat out over pages and pages with bruised, inked fingers to show for it (Oh, Jo March, how I envied you).
You'd think.

In Kevin Leman's book about Birth Order, he has a list of questions perfectionists should ask themselves.  One of them perfectly diagnoses my issue with finishes:
Do you tend to put things off because you feel you're not quite ready to do the job right?
 To which I can answer a resounding YES.

I guess that's why I'm starting here.
I don't want to put it off, telling you my story.  But you must know that it might be difficult for me to wrench it out.  My tendency is to hold my cards very close to the chest.

Here's my first card laid out on the green felt for you to see:
I can be so driven by fear that I don't take the risks I should take.
Also, perfectionism is not a strength (thanks again, Kevin Leman).

And now you have a little piece of my history and of my heart.  Please hold it carefully.