What If?

It’s never a conversation between the two of us. 

No, the voice inside my head only ever talks at me. It prattles on relentlessly, incessantly. I am judged before this voice – all of my faults, my fears and my shortcomings facing brutal scrutiny. The frank, pointed and somewhat accusatory questions that the voice asks play as follows, never skipping a beat:

What if this is all you’ll ever do?

What if you can’t do anything else?

What if this all there is?

What if I do this and not that?

What if he/she thinks I’m ridiculous? 

What I’m not good enough?

What if…what if…what if?

Now, a new “what if” has infiltrated the lexicon, skipping that record for the first time in a long time. This new “what if” shakes me a little too much these days. Eyebrow raised, the voice asks this time: “What if you can’t write one more word?”

And I worry because the ideas are there, but the words have dried up. What does come out reads like rubbish and I’m humiliated, frustrated and disgusted with myself. The letters stumble out as if they were shoved from behind and they fall…fall…fall…then crash to the ground with a thud and get stuck in some mud. They become jumbled and dirty, no longer resembling letters at all. Whatever they were is just a broken mess. It reminds me of staring at word for so long, slowly dissecting each letter that comprises that word until the letters become nothing and the word no longer makes sense. 

In this world of what ifs, uncertainty and the like, I struggle to keep up with the Joneses, although apparently no one gives a toss about the Jones family in 2013. Instead, I must keep up with the Kardashians, but I can’t quite comprehend why I want to or even why they’re famous. Suddenly, I feel like I must keep up with something or I’ll be left behind in the dust. Am I OK with that? Am I strong enough if I choose to be left behind? I’d like to think so and think that it doesn’t matter, but…I’m not so sure. I have the “what ifs” to thank for the self doubt.

But just when I’m convinced that the what ifs are out to get me,  I realized that those what ifs are strangely two-faced. They can be game changers for the better. It’s the manager who reads a resume and makes the phone call to schedule an interview, thinking “what if I take a chance on this person?” And what if that chance was what the person on the receiving end of the phone call really needed in order to make a new start, get ahead and succeed? That happens. 

So, I dance with the what ifs like I dance with danger or the devil. Some days, that voice in my head is shouting, screaming at the top of her lungs all the negative what ifs that I fear could be true about myself. She makes me believe that they are true and I’m small. So very small. 

Then the voice disappears or at least gets quiet and I feel harder, better, faster, stronger – just like the world expects me to be. I’m the only one in charge of my what ifs now and I think: “What if this is the start of something amazing? What if life is really just beginning now? What if…? What if…? What if…?

About Six Feet Standing Tall

Sara Tieman blogs at Six Feet Standing Tall. She stands at 5’11″ and probably could be six feet tall if she stood up straighter…or wore higher heels. She lives in Chicago but also fancies London as her home, too. Attempting to live her life fearlessly, she hopes to share stories that readers will find amusing, insightful or somewhat intriguing as she tries to figure out the meaning of life.
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