Recently, I was asked about my motivation. What motivated me to recommit to Bright Line Eating? Where did I find the strength to start?
It was a reasonable question. But I didn’t have an answer.
I knew the catalyst. My mastermind group helped me step on the scale. And somehow, that was the push that I needed. But why? What was it about that number that helped propel me into action?
I’ve been thinking about it for a few days. And maybe the answer I’ve come up with has been influenced by the fact that I just watched Hacksaw Ridge (I’ve been bundled up the last couple days, alternating between napping and going through all the Netflix movies I’d meant to watch but never had time for). Maybe I’ll come up with a better one later on. But in the meantime, I’m going to say that a large part of that motivation was fear.
The Search for Purpose
The number on the scale represented one of my worst fears, whether I acknowledged it at the time or not: the fear of being useless.
I am a driven person. I want my life to count for something. To know that there was a reason I was made the way I was. And I have been searching for that thing – whatever it is that I’m supposed to do with my life – since before high school, at least. Without success.
I was a good student, so I worked hard at school, and became better. I went to university with high hopes, but discovered that diligence only went so far. I wasn’t a genius, and a career in academia was ruled out. There were other options, and I preferred altering my ambitions to placing myself in a position where I would always feel inferior to others in my field. I liked working with kids at summer camp, so I became a high school teacher. I was certainly smart enough to teach teenagers, and I would be able to earn a living while making a difference in people’s lives. That was the goal, at least, and I certainly gave it my best. For 6 years, I tried to be a good teacher; but I wasn’t. And I began to hate it. I hated the continual feeling of failure. The growing conviction that I would never be good enough.
I couldn’t handle that. I held out as long as I could, but in the end, I had to admit defeat. I didn’t deal well with that – being a quitter almost felt worse than being a failure. But I was headed for a nervous breakdown, if I didn’t get out – if indeed I wasn’t already in the middle of one. And I held onto the hope that I would find something else that I could be good at.
The Fear of Failure
Now, I’m finished school. 10 years of post-secondary education are under my belt, and I’m studying for the most difficult exams I’ll ever take in my life. One of them is 3 days long. Assuming I pass all these exams, I will soon be a naturopathic doctor. I should be excited; and maybe, underneath it all, I am. Right now, though, all I can feel is fear. Paralyzing fear. If I fail at this, my 2nd career attempt, I don’t know what I’ll do.
I’ve put everything I have into this. Years of my life lived in a city I do not like. Hours and hours of training, concentration and effort. Stress and discomfort. I’ve tried the patience and generosity of my family, and I’m in more debt to the bank than I’m comfortable thinking about. And I’m afraid that in the end, after all this, I won’t be good at it. In fact, if I don’t get my eating under control, I know I won’t be good at it. I will fail, once again. And I will be officially useless.
I know that sounds harsh. Terrible, even. But I want to be useful. I want to be good at something. My eating problem will always get in the way of that. In the particular field I have chosen, an eating problem won’t just be an obstacle; it will be lethal. That’s what the number on the scale means to me.
So I have no choice. I have to get control of this. That number has to go down, steadily. Or my worst fears become reality.
Is fear a good motivator? I don’t know. It doesn’t sound very positive. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really like it. In many ways, I’d prefer the numbness. But fear is what I feel, and so far, it’s working. Numbing it with food and comforting platitudes didn’t get me anywhere. Maybe this will.