I’ve just finished reading The Pat Boone Fan Club by Sue Silverman and something on page 120 stood out to me.
“Yet I worry I am beholden. Not so much to the patrons or to this job but to this life. How did I end up working in this library in a town I never knew existed until my husband got a job here –setting the bar so low for myself, I trip over it.”
I was stunned by the words to the point that I had to take a picture of the page (I was reading the book on my phone…nook went dead) so that I would remember this poignant paragraph that spoke volumes to me. “setting the bar so low for myself, I trip over it”.
Do you ever do that? Metaphorically speaking, of course. I have. Sometimes I still do. And it got me to thinking about how I have ended up in those places, at times, living a life that said mediocre is sufficient. As I was thinking, I confess…I got a little angry. At myself.
I thought about this as I went to bed last night and periodically throughout the night when I’d wake up and fumble around in my mind to latch on to the topic that was resonating inside my soul. Why do we set the bar so low?
The answer: white out. Just hear me out for a minute, I promise this makes sense.
Think about it. How many times in your life have you encountered people who have taken that bar, that standard you set for yourself, and with a shake of their head, a tsk of the tongue, those people moved that bar lower than where you’d positioned it for yourself?
I know it hurts, but go there for a minute. Think back. Recall the memories, the words, the bar being moved lower and lower in front of you. Think for a minute about the times when you, after watching that happen, took the already lowered bar and lowered it again; yourself.
Now, imagine how we as writers (and humans in general) erase a mistake. Scribbling it out, using a big fat marker to mark out whatever it is we don’t want to do/remember/think about, hitting backspace on the computer or the delete button. And once upon a time, we used whiteout.
Whiteout. Thick, creamy white paint on the end of that tiny brush dipped in that little plastic bottle. Can you see it? Whiting out your dreams, goals, plans, visions for your future; your life. “Setting the bar so low for myself, I trip over it”.
Words do that to us. Disbelief does that to us.
That’s too hard
You’ll never make it
You can’t do that
Try this –it’s easier
What makes you think you’re so
Much better than the rest of us?
“Setting the bar so low for myself, I trip over it”.
How dare they? How dare I? Being here, on this planet, in this world, making it from one day to the next when sometimes life is just that hard is a feat in and of itself. How dare someone (even me) say I can’t when I already am?
That’s where I believe the power of the pen comes in handy. Because when we whiteout over something and the creamy white paint dries, we can write over it again.
Accomplish the goal
Sing, write, paint, draw, teach, fix things, help others
Not give up
Follow my heart
Raise the bar higher and reach it.
Because when someone (even me) tries to white me out of life, I will use the power of the pen to write myself back into it in the form of a stronger version of myself.
Have you allowed others to set the bar in your life so low that you've tripped over it? Have you done this to yourself? I challenge you to write yourself back into your own life. Raise the bar. Live your life. Find yourself.