The topic of grit came up, as I mentioned, in a conversation with a friend of mine, Rachelskirts. There's another part of that conversation that made me think today as I was discussing the postmortem of some technical issues I had recently worked throuhg at work. She said,
I just want you to have a plan in place in case this chain breaks. I want you to have the grit to keep going.
I've mentioned before, I work in IT. I am also, according to the Myers-Briggs personality test an INTJ.
INTJ stands for Introverted, Intuition, Thinking, Judgment. If you read the link above, you'll see what this means about me, but the short of it is, I'm neurotic, over-thinking, and sometimes a little brusque. The Kiersey site linked above paints a picture pretty close to how I view myself; although maybe the INTJs in their world are a little more together than I feel, but the rest is good.
What this means is I am a constant planner. I plan for contingencies all day, every day. I live for wondering what won't work, and thinking about how something won't work, and how I might avoid those problems. I plan for failures and problems both likely and so drastically unlikely, it hardly seems worth planning for.
This may sound like a good thing, and for many things it is. At work, for example, I am considered a devil's advocate. I can, and often do, take a contrary position just to test the limits of an idea. This is often fruitful, as it can shed light on potential pitfalls and allow us to plan accordingly. For work, this is invaluable.
But, I do this planning and analysis in almost every aspect of my life. I plan and over-think and pessimize about nearly everything. It sometimes borders on paranoia, I think. I just sometimes get into this never-ending spiral of doubt, and I think nothing will work. This is clearly contrary to my supposedly rational personality, but I think it's a good example of the maxim, "All things in moderation."
This pessimism, this over-analysis, this over-planning and underacting are the staunchest roadblocks to my personal creativity. Sometimes it is a real, and exhausting, internal fight to get myself to write anything, even one of these little essays for this blog. It's a crippling fear of failure, a the inaction is infectious, because after all, it's far safer to think than to do.
Every time I finish one of these and I reach for the "publish now" button, I have a twinge of fear, a rush of warmth to my face, and a bit of nausea. It's ridiculous, I know, but it happens every time. And it's one of those things I don't reckon I can just reason away. No, it's something I've got to build an immunity to. And maybe it'll never go away, but hopefully, I'll get to the point where consistently, I can push past it and not let it stop me before I get anything done.
I think we all have these little vices. These personal pitfalls that keep us from achieving our goals and aspirations. And like some other (in)famous programs, the first step is admitting it. After that? It's a long, slow process of retraining yourself to not follow that self-destructive instinct.
Today's just another day in that journey for me. Right now, it's these essays. I'm a little more comfortable with them than I am with fiction. I'll get there, though. It's just one day at a time.