There are certain words and phrases that hold most of us back in life and stop us reaching our full potential. We use them instinctively but often mean the opposite – ‘I’ll do that in a minute’ is one example. Another is ‘I’ll get around to that tomorrow’. Then there are the negatives, such as ‘I can’t’ or ‘it can’t be done’. Of course you will be there in a minute once you do all the other things you keep putting off. And how many times have you put off things until tomorrow? What a waste. And don’t get me started on negative thoughts
Sometimes we do this out of habit, or pure laziness. Or, and this would be true of me, we do so because we are afraid. We fear loneliness, yet isolate ourselves from others; want friendships yet spurn the chance to meet people and build relationships; we want to find partners, yet are afraid to trust our feelings and have faith in ourselves.
I’ve been as guilty as anyone on all those points. But there comes a moment where if you don’t reach out and trust yourself as much as others then your fears of leading a lonely life will be self-fulfilling.
Get up off your backside. Believe that you are as good as others. Trust in your personality, in your smile, in your friends and family. Most of all, trust the kindness of strangers to look beyond your face. I had this fear for so long that I was somehow unworthy of others and almost sub-human. I would always run myself down, believe the worst in myself and fear rejection. That fear of failure was a powerful reason for my disengagement. Whatever setback I suffered in life was magnified a thousand fold, ensuring my next attempt to reach out would take a lot longer.
I wished I was dead so many times. Looking back on my life now I can hardly believe I felt that way. Look what I would have missed out on – a loving wife and children, some great friends, countless holidays, brilliant memories. I would have denied myself those and much more simply because of my fears. I have a face that’s different, but my brain is intact, I have 10 toes and fingers, no obvious disabilities. Yes, my face became my problem because I allowed it to become an impediment. I allowed it to dominate my life, strangle any possible initiative to break out of my self-imposed ‘exile’ – but that was a choice I made because I didn’t have the strength of character to get on with living.
We all have dreams, some possible, others impossible. But if we don’t have dreams then life would be very dull. I don’t hold myself back anymore when it comes to realising those dreams. I don’t see my facial difference as limiting me in any way – not any more. I see possibilities where I once saw obstacles. Even if some of those dreams are never realised – at least not in the way that I hope – then I’ll have tried. Better to have made the effort, though, than be left wondering ‘what if?’.
What are you waiting for? Go follow your dreams and don’t be put off by self-doubt. Make a promise to be positive about today and the future.
Tom Hickey is a former chief sub editor at the Irish Examiner. He was burned as a child and blogs about his life and facial disfigurement at hickeysworld.com Subjects he tackles include everything from travel to his family, and coping with facial disfigurement.