I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

I wish I didn't believe in ghosts

According to Wikipedia, a ghost is:

"...the apparition of a deceased person, frequently similar in appearance to that person, and usually encountered in places she or he frequented, the place of his or her death, or in association with the person's former belongings."

I think Wikipedia has it mostly right, but I take argument with the whole "deceased/death" bit of the description. Sure, traditional BOO! ghosts are usually dead ones. Modern ghosts are not dead at all ... in fact they're very much alive.

Recently I've been talking to friends and reading a fair bit about people who are going through a personal process of re-discovering, re-invention, and of rejuvenation. Without doubt, in all these cases, their biggest stumbling blocks are one thing: ghosts. Not the sort who wander around graveyard in the dead (ha!) of night, nor the sort who make doors slam and windows rattle in their frame. The kind of ghosts I'm talking about are those which follow us around, every day, living in our hearts and our minds.

The ghosts of failures past who keep you from taking a leap of faith into the future. The ghosts of broken reltionships, aborted attempts at business and failed school exams. The ghosts of your life experiences which now haunt you as you try to move forward into something new, something exciting, something different to what you already know. On a personal note, the ghost which haunts me the most is one of self-doubt. For most of my life I've been told that I'm smart. Clever. Motivated. Michelle, you are going to be the person to CHANGE THE WORLD.

Because the profession I chose is not of the life-changing, environment-helping, world-saving sort which everyone said it should be, I constantly find myself doubting it. I doubt the value or net worth (not financial) of my little business to the rest of the world at large. I doubt my innate ability to create works of edible art. I find myself thinking that my life is a bit of a sham and someday, someone is going to call me out on it. That self doubt is, by far, the biggest ghost I've got lurking in my head, in my house, in my life. It affects almost every part of who I am. I think it's fair to say it's a pretty sizeable ghost, as ghosts go.

Let's return to that Wiki definition, where a ghost is, "...frequently similar in appearance to that person, and usually encountered in places she or he frequented...in association with the person's former belongings." The people we were before - the ghosts of our previous experiences - look like us, live with us, and have the same stuff as us. Sadly, too, they often have the power over us because they can keep us from living a full, brave life. The ghost of fear. The ghost of disappointment. The ghost of self-esteem. For some people, perhaps, it's other people's ghosts which inhabit their heads. The, "What will my Dad think? What will my friends think?" ghost.

October brings with it thoughts of all things ghoulish and scary - ghosts of the actually dead variety, if you will. For me October is also the month of Yom Kippur - the Jewish Day of Atonement where we reconsider the past year, and look forward to a new one starting again. We get the equivalent of a spiritual "do over." Look at this month as an opportunity to bring into the light those ghosts which you CANNOT see, but which stop you all the same. Talk about what you're afraid of. Take a leap into something you've not tried before. Tell somebody something you've been keeping to yourself. Don't go quietly into the night, my friends - go loudly, and banish the ghosts within.

This post was written as an entry into the Scribbit October Write-Away Contest. It was also written in support of Karen, who is pursuing a life adventure requiring bravery and faith (both of which she has in abundance, even if she's not always sure she does.)


Scribbit said...

I think we as women are especially prone to these ghosts you write about--self doubt and self criticism can be so debilitating.

DH said...

Michelle has nothing to be self-doubting about. She is a successful (if somewhat harried) businesswoman, a fine mother, and a loving wife.

She can even teach me a few things about getting things done! I am very proud of her and of her achievements - so are her children.

I understand that this will not necessarily help to eradicate the ghost but perhaps it our continued love and support will help to dispel it a little.