Tornado Season

Have you ever been so close to achieving something, so close to a lifelong dream that, rather than harness it, you scare yourself away from it because it’s easier to settle for what you know than stumble towards something you don’t? I have. I am. Right now.

Where does this fear stem from? Maybe my crippling self-esteem issues from childhood onward? No! Certainly not that…Actually, yes, that’s exactly what I’m going to ramble on about.

Personally, I have done a LOT of vocational soul searching as to my purpose on this Earth (for more on those circumstances, check out my witness here). While I have certainly grown, both personally and professionally over the years, it almost seems like success and fear go hand in hand. Especially recently, I have felt closer to my career goals than ever before. However, in tandem with that extraordinary feeling, I have also felt more self-doubt, and to a certain extent, more fear now than when my goals felt like they would never really happen.

As you may have picked up from my previous posts, this struggle of self-doubt is par for the course with me. But this bizarre fear that began to creep up in the last couple of months felt more insidious and much more personal than anything I had ever experienced.

I entered a weird anxiety-induced depression this Summer. And if you know me, I’m not typically the depressive type. Anxiety, sure! I wrote the masterclass on panic attacks, no stranger to that. But the reason I knew that this particular kind of fear was much deeper than my normal adrenaline, heart-racing anxiety is because I began to feel a pointlessness to my work. At one point, I couldn’t even understand why I was attempting to achieve these lifelong dreams because, what good would it do? I would never be successful at it. I would never get my big break, and definitely no one would ever give a sh*t about what I have to say. So, why try so hard at something so uncertain if the odds of failure were so damn high?

To make an exhaustingly long and depressing story slightly less long and depressing, I finally decided to talk to my therapist about all of this. One night, she pushed me harder mentally, into my own subconscious than I had ever gone before. At the end of it all, I sank into the couch, exhausted, as if I’d just gone through the Olympics of Psychotherapy. Like a veil being lifted, one single word slowly came into focus out of the far recesses of my mind: inadequacy.

Fear. Inadequacy. It all started to make sense. Why should I ever pursue something in which I could never hope to be good enough? Silly as it may seem, I truly believed this about myself.

Let’s dig a smidge deeper.

After 6 years of doing the damn thing, why now am I sitting here with such overwhelming fear of not being good enough? In the pursuit of my dreams of screenwriting and producing, I always had a *vision* of what my future would look like. However, that vision really only ever translated into a fantasy. I’d get so hyper-focused on the future I had planned for myself, that I spent little to no time focusing on the *reality* of the present, preparing myself in the now for the future that I was hoping for. As much as I loved getting lost in these visions, there always seemed to be some obstacle, some practical force that would prevent me from taking ACTION to make these visions a reality.

From a very young age, I thought the only important thing in life was to make practical matters a priority. Steady income. Put food on the table. Pay the rent. Anything else was for leisure or extracurricular. Hence why I spent 5+ years working desk jobs. I had structure, a foundation upon which I could safely build out the other, less important parts of my life. What then, happens when that structure is stripped away…When I quit that steady job, go back to school at 28 and live purely off of a finite amount of money that isn’t mine?

Anxiety. A whole. Lot. Of anxiety. The root of it all. The fear and inadequacy, all came from the same place. A deep anxiety over my unknown future.

It took a few months to hit, but when it did, it was an F5. Nothing was stable in my life. It became impossible to articulate, but it was the most unsettling feeling I have ever felt, like I had lost control over every aspect of my life. I had moved apartments 3 times in 15 months. I hadn’t had a full-time job in over a year. My family dog was put down. And I had literally no daily structure, since it was Summer, and school was out of session. I took a look around, and suddenly, just pursuing my fantastical visions full-time was not enough to hold up the infrastructure that I had worked on for five years. My foundation was completely shaken and once that realization hit, I was sucked into some kind of vortex. I was spiraling uncontrollably with no discernable purpose.

Even God was quiet in this time. That was my darkest point. In my time of being totally lost as to where this feeling was coming from, I looked at every possible cause, which brought me to realize an extremely cogent life lesson: you can never truly know God until you’ve been well-acquainted with the Devil. This is (hopefully) as bleak as I’ll get in my budding blog career, but the truth is that, if you don’t believe in the Devil, how could you ever hope to prepare yourself for a spiritual battle that you don’t even believe exists?

The Devil knew I was terrified of living an unstructured life. Regardless of how much freedom it granted me to pursue my vocational goals, I was terrified (still kinda am) of being responsible for creating my own structure. My own opportunities. And so, being overwhelmed was the natural response that I became accustomed to. I was so used to coming up against obstacles that when those obstacles went away, I created obstacles for myself. And the Devil took full advantage of this.

Why? Well, I believe it’s because obstacles give us an out. They justify complacency, so then we don’t feel as guilty when we say, “Ah, I’ve got what I need right here. No need to take that risky leap of faith. I’m good where I’m at!”
My personal obstacles of inadequacy came from my deep-seated fear of uncertainty.

So, what do we turn to when the only foundation we’ve ever known is shattered into oblivion?

Say it with me now…DRUGS!

Kidding. Faith. The answer is faith.

In my time of being like, “Hi, Satan, please go away now,” and simultaneously being like, “Hi, God, did you forget about me?” I decided that I had to keep my head down and continue to pray harder than I have literally (not like literally, figuratively) ever prayed before. Ever.

What I can say is that I am now more focused than ever on my writing, blogging, screenwriting and producing. I can honestly say that this is my new foundation. Every time I sit down to write, whether it’s a screenplay or a shiny new blog post, I feel like I am at home. It’s just that this new “home” is not the traditional one I’m used to.

I truly wish that I had a happier ending for you all, because, despite this feeling of home, the fear and inadequacy continue to whisper lies to me. The Enemy will continue to try and keep those visions from becoming a reality because he is the tornado. But now, I’ve built a newer, stronger foundation because I followed God to a place that I was too afraid to believe existed – and at the center of this tornado is a faith even stronger than the one I had before.

Patrick LeheComment