I turned 37 yesterday.
A few years earlier, having recovered from a terrible relationship, a friend asked, “have you ever regretted that one mistake you did?”. I caught myself off-guard — however somewhat full of pride — that I did not hesitate in the slightest bit in answering, “not at all”.
37 is an awful lot of years, awfully ancient too — and that means my years were filled with an awful lot of things I have learned and unlearned along the way as well. I had lived a pretty safe, solid, if I may also appear to some, boring life. I have been an obedient daughter, a straight-A student, I work very hard, I had never drank or smoked or being involved in any consumption of recreational drugs. So when the friend imposed the question to me, in all expectations I should be taken aback. But I did not.
Now when I looked at it all back, I do have some regrets.
I seldom ask for help because asking might mean I will inconvenient someone, or that it is a sign of weakness. I have never expressed my anger and taken action on it, even though a number of times I am angry at how the world works in treating the marginalised, or the way I was treated unfairly by some. I had never applied for a job I thought I was less qualified for, although I know I could learn the ropes in no time at all. I have, through numerous occassions, put limitations on myself before I give things a try.
Vincent van Gogh, in his many letters to his brother Theo, wrote :
If one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes. To be good — many people think that they’ll achieve it by doing no harm — and that’s a lie… That leads to stagnation, to mediocrity. Just slap something on it when you see a blank canvas staring at you with a sort of imbecility.
You don’t know how paralyzing it is, that stare from a blank canvas that says to the painter you can’t do anything. The canvas has an idiotic stare, and mesmerizes some painters so that they turn into idiots themselves.
Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas IS AFRAID of the truly passionate painter who dares — and who has once broken the spell of “you can’t.”
There is a job out there that I wanted so bad, but I have been hesitating to put my foot forward because I have been so afraid. I decided to give it a try today.
Wish me luck.