‘The weakness of flesh is to settle for less than we have the potential to be.’
When you read something filled with such profundity and insightfulness as the quote above you can’t help but stop and think about your own shortcomings. How many times have you settled for less than you had the potential to be simply because you didn’t have the courage to push that little bit further, or reach that little bit higher and grasp everything that you have ever wanted? If you’re like ninety nine percent of the world’s population then you can probably think of a handful of times when you’ve sold yourself short for whatever reason. Maybe you were tired of trying; maybe you were afraid of the success you were striving for, or feared looking foolish if you did fail. Whatever the reason is, at some point in your life you have settled for less than you were meant to be. We all have.
If this is true then one must ask why mankind has evolved with such a fundamental flaw in our design. Or maybe even ask how the fuck we ever managed to evolve in the first place. I mean surely if it is in our nature to fall short of our dreams then shouldn’t we have stopped evolving somewhere between a half-formed zygote and a fucking chimp? Whatever, the evolution of the human mind and body is a conversation for another day. All I want to know is if our weakness as a species is to accept complacency, then how the hell am I ever meant to achieve everything I dream about? How am I supposed to become a published author? How am I supposed to see the world? How am I supposed to form meaningful relationships? Or even be happy?
Well thankfully, this crippling weakness that has been bestowed upon us doesn’t afflict every decision or action we make. I can make friends, and I can be happy. I can even see the world if I bust my arse and rustle up enough cash to do so. No, this debilitating mindset of settling only rears its hideous face in the midst of moments or thought patterns that have the power to define our lives. Self-doubt as it is commonly known serves no other purpose than to derail our dreams and see us fall agonisingly short of where we really should be.
For those of you who have been following my web-log for some time now you are probably well aware that there have been times in my life when I’ve settled. There have been moments when publishers or agents have asked me to make minor tweaks to my works in order to make them more marketable or palatable, and in my infinite stupidity I’ve refused. I’ve told myself that I am a singularity (and I still believe that I am a highly unique individual), and that as such I shouldn’t have to change my works to suit the needs of others, no matter how subtle those changes actually are. But what if these poor decisions weren’t me refusing to change who I am? What if in actual fact they were moments of me settling for less than I had the potential to be simply because I was ultimately afraid of what would happen next if I did follow through with something?
It’s an interesting question. And the truth is that there is no real way of knowing what would have happened if I’d been smart enough to follow through with the advice that was offered to me. I could have had a book published by now, or I could have done heeded the advice of others and still failed to secure that elusive contract that I so desperately strive for. But no matter what could have happened, it now never will because I settled instead of reaching for the fucking stars. Because I was weak and I lacked the courage to push just that little bit further in order to achieve I now have to forge a new path forward in this world of manuscripts, agents and publishers.
-I realise that up until this point this post probably sounds a little negative. But I promise you that it’s not. See the thing is that I know I’ve messed up a few potential opportunities in the past. I’ve failed to follow up on rewrites; I’ve abandoned scripts, or burned bridges with publishers and agents. Shit, I even threw away writing altogether for a space in time. But without those mistakes or missed opportunities I wouldn’t be the writer that I am right now. I wouldn’t have the confidence to sit here and acknowledge my weaknesses and faults and I wouldn’t be able to make a conscious effort to learn from them.
Every decision that I make nowadays in regards to my writing I do so with a calculated mindset designed to constantly bring out the very best in me. Take my last post for example: I wrote about my desire to travel half way around the globe to hunt down an opportunity. And I did so because if I didn’t go public with my intentions then I would never have followed through. I would have settled for less than I truly deserved and come July would have still been sitting at home cursing my poor decision making skills for not having the balls to follow through with something again. But instead, I took to the screen and I made my intentions known so that if I pulled out I would have looked like a fool. Two days later my ticket was secured and trip confirmed.
I believe that the quote used to open this post is indeed highly profound and incredibly accurate. The weakness of flesh is indeed it’s acceptance of settling for less than it deserves to be. But you can overcome it. Once you identify a weakness you can turn it into a strength. You can train for it, adapt to accommodate it, and ultimately overcome anything as long as you have the fortitude to keep pushing forward even when you’re no longer sure that you can.