It’s funny, the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. These stories seem to a mix of family stories (you’ve always been the smart/dumb/slow/fast one), stories of people we identify with (if she can do it, so can I), and stories from our peers.
And not just in the big things, like career choices. But in the day-to-day little things. You just assume you can’t do something, or you can’t be a certain way, because… you’ve never done or been. Or that thing is so far away from you that you don’t even associate yourself enough with it to even consider yourself in that role at all.
For instance, I was thinking about the gap between code schools and actually getting work in the field, and how important mentors are. If only someone would start a program. I mentioned this to my boss and he said, “That sounds like a great idea, let me know if you need help.” Huh? That’s not the sort of thing I would do. That’s for someone who knows what they’re doing, someone who knows people, who… I don’t know, really. What makes a person do such a thing? I certainly never would.
It’s not something you’re conscious of, this storytelling. You put yourself into an invisible jail and never really question it. I’m not the sort of person who runs marathons. I’m not the sort of person who starts a business or becomes a CEO or runs for city council. Whatever the story is. What’s funny is that the people who often end up in these positions have no idea how they got there and often told themselves the same thing at the outset.
When I thought about actually creating some kind of mentorship program, I got excited. What if I could? Then I started thinking about all the things I tell myself I can’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t do. Suddenly the universe seemed to expand and the roads from here seemed innumerable and limitless.
And that is scary as fuck.
Stories make us safe. They limit the number of roads we have to choose from. They limit failure–if being the CEO isn’t an option, then never becoming one is no failure of mine. So do I want to be safe? Or limitless?