When the waitress brought out our chicken strips and white gravy I didn't even look up or pause to say thank you. I continued glaring at my mother.
“Mom, I don't think you understand. I'm not growing here. I want to get out and go see the world! Why is that so hard to understand?”
“If it's so bad here then why haven't you left already? What's holding you back?”
“Mom – you aren't listening, I'm talking about ...”
She cut me off again, “What's keeping you here?”
“Well, it's just that ya'll...”
“No! What is keeping you here?”
I huffed and pushed back in my chair as I realized the answer.
I think the purpose of my mom's question was to somehow show me that I actually wanted to be where I was, but I didn't take it that way. I took it as though I was the one holding myself back from pursuing the dreams I wanted to pursue. My mother had unknowingly shared with me some of the most profound wisdom I'd ever heard and I've never forgotten it.
Why it was WAY too easy to blame my parent's expectations, the solid job I was rocking, the commitment of the community and my friends, I knew that deep down all of these things were simply outside factors that I was allowing to guilt and comfort me into staying right where I was.
But I couldn't keep myself down any longer. I had a dream and by-golly I wanted to see it into fruition. The next day I put down fifteen hundred dollars on a long-term trip to Australia.
The human psyche is such a delicate thing. We hardly realize the sabotage we put on ourselves. I think our own mind tricks us into thinking other people and situations are sabotaging our plans, when more often than not, it truly is of our own doing.
Even now I struggle with this concept. It is our own fear, regret, shame, guilt, anxiety, lack of self-confidence, etc. that keeps us stuck where we are.
It is our own fear, regret, shame, guilt, anxiety, lack of self-confidence, etc. that keeps us stuck where we are.
It's like we're in one of those “Ghosts of Christmas Past” movies and we keep replaying stories from our past, even though they aren't serving us or positively affecting us. Likewise, we can see the present with ourselves in it. We're struggling with some big issue and yet we feel disconnected from the breakthrough that is possible. When the third ghost visits us, we see our future self, or rather, the self we aspire to be. We're successful and bold and confident in every area. The only problem is, we can't figure out how to forgive and forget our past-self so we can connect our present-self to the future-self.
Our frustrations with this problem lead us to feeling guilty, angry and even bitter at the outside sources around us. We take out these frustrations on our loved ones and maybe even sulk in our self-pity for years before we realize that we were holding the key to our freedom the whole time.
"I don't have to prove anything to anyone, I only have to follow my heart and concentrate on what I want to say to the world. I run my world. -- Beyonce
In a short interview with a long-time friend who's freedom I deeply admire, I asked her what the first step was in changing her path and going after her lifelong creative dream.
“Overcoming the fear of rejection.”
She went on to tell me her story of getting rejected by her college of choice, again by an exam she needed pass, and again by her advisor and professor. Her family didn't much support her dream either so all my friend heard was people telling her she couldn't do something.
Rather than give up and stay stuck in an unhappy place she didn't want to be in, she kept pushing, kept applying, kept breaking through the barriers placed upon her. She had a dream darn it, and that dream was going to become her reality wether everyone else wanted to see it happen or not.
This is a perfect picture of someone who realized the only person really standing in her way was herself. She was the ultimate force behind her own success. Though it would have been easy to take the advice of college professors, exam scores and college applications, she knew deep down that these things didn't validate her worth. She knew she could rise above the labels and limitations that outside forces were placing on her.
And that's just it. Each fight is unique to the individual. What I mean is that, my journey to freedom is going to look different from your journey to freedom. We each have unique obstacles we're meant to overcome. But anyway you look at it, we all stand in our own way. We have to be our own best motivator or else we won't be going anywhere. And it all starts with that first step. For my friend, it was realizing that her fear of rejection was the real hurdle to overcome, not a test score or failed course.
This theory has been echoed by cardboard artist and motivational speaker, Kyle Scheele through his current viking funeral project. Kyle recognizes the limitations we place on ourselves and as a motivational speaker for high school students, he has heard lots of stories of people who struggle with this.
These stories are the motivation behind his new project. Kyle is challenging people to write out one thing they want to let go of on a 4 x 6 index card. Once he receives 10,000 of these cards, Kyle will cut the cards out and glue them on a huge viking ship he's made out of cardboard. These fears/challenges/cards are what will make up the scales of the dragon on the ship.
But that's not the cool part. When the viking ship is all complete in all its glory, Kyle is then going to take the project out into a field and set it on fire. This is a symbolic act of leaving all of these cards behind. Much like a viking funeral, when the deceased were placed on a boat, set on fire and sent out to see, this is a refreshing way of accepting our past as just that – the past – and letting go of the restraints we put on ourselves.
What a creative idea, right?
If you are anything like me, you're probably really interested in getting involved. I was too. For that reason I am challenging all of my readers to participate in the viking funeral project! I think this is a great way to not only challenge ourselves but also those around us who can appreciate the same kind of encouragement.
Here is a link to the official details for the project: Viking Funeral Project
And here is the start-up video for the project. So cool!
If you do participate, I'd like to take the challenge one step further. Share a picture of your notecard on Instagram with the hashtag #TSHvikingfuneralproject.
Let's encourage one another to let go of those stinking self-sabotaging thoughts that are disconnecting us from the selves we aspire to be! Don't you want breakthrough? You are the only thing that's stopping you. Once you can wrap your ahead around that truth, nothing and no one will be able to stop you from breaking through to the person you wish to become.