fear of failure or laziness?

when i was walking yesterday i passed the high school student lot and watched as they left the building and drifted towards their cars. when i saw them i tried to imagine what they would do when they got home. would their mother or father be there to greet them? would they have a snack? would they dump their backpack on the kitchen table and go to their room? i was having a low-level day emotionally and as i watched and wondered i found myself remembering what it was like when my kids were that age and i allowed myself to feel sad for a block or so.

i was usually home after school, except during the couple of years i was working full-time. i loved to hear them clump into the house from the garage to the laundry room and holler hello to me, and we usually talked a bit. maybe i’m remembering earlier than high school, though, because one son was in sports and the other in band, so it’s possible that they weren’t home right after school. and when i remember them being around for dinner, that must have been more middle school than high school as well. funny, isn’t it, how our memories get dulled and muddled? everything oozes together in my mind, like drops of water that run down the window.

i miss them a lot, which does not mean i’m not happy that they are finding their way in the world. i am proud of all that they have done, what they have pulled themselves away from and toward, and know that they will be successful. my greatest hope is that they will be contented and fulfilled and as happy as possible.

thinking about them and what lies ahead made me think about all that i had in front of me when i was their age, and though i’ve done some things that were interesting, some that were fulfilling (many that were just plain foolish), i still feel as if there is something that i forgot to do. somewhere along the way i must have taken a wrong turn, made the wrong choice, settled for less than i should have, taken the easy way instead of the one that would have been truer to myself. i’ve never been what some would call driven, and though i’m intelligent and was always a good student, i never pushed myself hard enough, never challenged myself enough. i took the easy way out most of the time.

when i was in high school i was recommended to the “community campus” option, which involved planning my own curriculum out of school, working in the community for a semester, instead of being stuck in the classroom. rather than being pleased and excited about being offered the option, it was the last thing i had any interest in doing. i was perfectly happy, thank you, being in the classroom, doing the “usual” thing, taking notes, doing homework, letting someone else tell me what to do and when.

fear of failure or laziness? that is the question that has come up often during my adult life. have i avoided doing things because i didn’t think i would be successful, or was i just lazy? did i change my mind about moving to denver to get my master’s in social work because of fear, or laziness? actually, it was probably fear, and homesickness, in that case. why didn’t i ride home from north carolina with gary at the end of that summer on his bmw? i wanted to, i really wanted to, but mom and dad didn’t think it was a good idea and i deferred to them. i didn’t want to hurt their feelings and i was afraid that they would think less of me. more fear. fear to be myself. fear to break away and assert myself.

what will it take for me to start my life in earnest?


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