what if?

sometimes i play this terrible game, the what if? game. boyfriend hates it. he can’t totally dissuade me from playing, so instead he tries to refuse to play with me. i manage to pull him in every now & then, though.

it’s a simple game. i play it when i feel anxious about trying something for the first time, or entering into a new situation. i sit down, take a few breaths to clear my head, & think about the upcoming opportunity. i let myself focus on it for a moment. & then i think of everything that could go wrong, every reason i shouldn’t take this chance. & i ask myself “what if…?”

what if…i take this new job & everyone hates me?
what if…i’m not really good at my job & that becomes apparent in the new place?
what if…i submit this article & no one wants to publish it?
what if…i let everyone down by not following through on this?
what if…they didn’t really want me to come?
what if…i make a fool of myself?

i don’t know when i first started playing this game. it feels like i’ve always done this. when asked why i do this, i’d always defended the game, saying that i was preparing myself for the worst-case scenario. i was looking at the situation from all angles, to make an informed decision.

really, i’ve just been giving voice to insecurity, giving it a seat at the table to weigh in on my decisions. the problem with the what if? game is that all the what ifs have the same answer:

don’t do it.
it’s too risky.
it’s not worth it.
you’re not worth it.

this isn’t about preparation, or looking at all sides. this is about holding myself back. & it’s a frustrating thing, to put so much work into getting away from those who have oppressed your voice & your spirit to find that you’ve been nurturing one of them inside you this whole time.

so i’ve been attempting to flip the script lately. i’ve been asking some different what ifs?

what if…i take really good care of myself this week?
what if…i eat good food that i’ve cooked myself, work out on schedule, sleep on time?
what if…they publish this article?
what if…i get this grant?
what if…i get through this whole to-do list today?

i’m not expecting miracles. i know i’ll still play the game by the old rules sometimes. but i do have to say, it’s a lot nicer this way.

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