Jul 19, 2009

Stop waiting to start

Do you ever find yourself saying, "When X happens, then I'll start doing Y." When it stops being so hot/cold, I'll start jogging everyday. When I get a promotion, I'll start paying off my credit cards/putting money in savings. When I move to a new city, I'll start working on that Big Idea I had. When all my circumstances change, I'll change, too.

Only when the circumstances change, you don't change.

I recently read Kate Harding's post, "The Fantasy of Being Thin." Kate writes:

Because, you see, the Fantasy of Being Thin is not just about becoming small enough to be perceived as more acceptable. It is about becoming an entirely different person – one with far more courage, confidence, and luck than the fat you has. It’s not just, “When I’m thin, I’ll look good in a bathing suit”; it’s “When I’m thin, I will be the kind of person who struts down the beach in a bikini, making men weep.” See also:

  • When I’m thin, I’ll have no trouble finding a partner/reinvigorating my marriage.
  • When I’m thin, I’ll have the job I’ve always wanted.
  • When I’m thin, I won’t be depressed anymore.
  • When I’m thin, I’ll be an adventurous world traveler instead of being freaked out by any country where I don’t speak the language and/or the plumbing is questionable.
  • When I’m thin, I’ll become really outdoorsy.
  • When I’m thin, I’ll be more extroverted and charismatic, and thus have more friends than I know what to do with.


The reality is, I will never be the kind of person who thinks roughing it in Tibet sounds like a hoot; give me a decent hotel in London any day. I will probably never learn to waterski well, or snow ski at all, or do a back handspring. I can be outgoing and charismatic in small doses, but I will always then need time to recharge my batteries with the dogs and a good book; I’ll never be someone with a chock-full social calendar, because I would find that unbearably exhausting. (And no matter how well I’ve learned to fake it — and thus how much this surprises some people who know me — new social situations will most likely always intimidate the crap out of me.) I might learn to speak one foreign language fluently over the course of my life, but probably not five. I will never publish a novel until I finish writing one. I will always have to be aware of my natural tendency toward depression and might always have to medicate it. Smart money says I am never going to chuck city life to buy an alpaca farm or start a new career as a river guide. And my chances of marrying George Clooney are very, very slim.

None of that is because I’m fat. It’s because I’m me.

Now, guys, I've always been a skinny person, but reading this, I could feel the alarm bells going off in my head. Dingdingding! We have a winner! I've been telling myself these things since I was about 13-years-old. When everything around me changes, I'll change, too, because what is going on around me is what's holding me back.

Only...that's not what's holding me back at all. I'm the only thing holding me back. My current situation is only temporary. The things going on around me are only temporary. And the only way to change those things? Don't accept that they are unmovable obstacles. Start pushing against them, working around them, pretending they aren't there at all so you can fake it til you make it.

While what Kate was writing about was learning to accept yourself and your limitations, and not hating yourself all the time for not being perfect (and that is something, btw, I totally agree with), I think there's another lesson to be learned from this. If there are things you really want to do, don't let your current situation, your current problems, your current limitations keep you from doing what you want.


  1. I do this ALL the time. When I go here or get this, then I'll do this. It's ridiculous, and it needs to stop!

  2. I wrote a blog asking people what they do to stay on the proverbial wagon when starting new tasks, but no one had an answer... THIS was good!

  3. oh my gosh, this is fantastic! i love this post, and it is so true. i love it. favouriting so i can read it again :)

  4. Hi Katie, it's Claire! I've read some of your posts and I really enjoy them. I'm at a similar place career-wise, so I really feel you. I'm just struggling to make a decision. I read this today on Slate and thought I'd share. Hope you enjoy it!

  5. Claire, this is a brilliant link. Thanks. :)

  6. Thank you for sharing...i really good to see this post.nice article.