I am just ordinary

A letter writer dreams of being a psychiatric nurse, but never feels good enough.

Can our elder help her find the motivation she needs?


Dear EWC

At a considerably young age (well, at least for me), I have already figured out what I wanted to do in the future. I have always dreamed of becoming a psychiatric nurse. But ever since junior year in high school I have wondered if I am actually good enough to pursue this career. I look around at my peers and… I am average. I am not talented in a single thing, I don’t exceed expectations, I am just ordinary. Yes, there are some hobbies that I am good at but it is something that everyone can do. Even with my best friend group, I always feel like the odd one out, the middle. They can both dance, one is artsy and one does modeling. I don’t think I’m jealous, though. But anyway, I’m in nursing school now and these thoughts just stay with me (sometimes, these thoughts get really ugly, too). I get so unmotivated to do anything and I always rethink my decisions. Even the smallest failure or detail gets me down. Heck! It even took me a long time to finally get my driver’s license. I don’t know what to do. I just want to know… Is it normal to never feel good enough?


Grandpa-Matt replies

Something happened to you that de-motivated you some time in your past. Since you haven’t disclosed it, we can only generalize what causes a person to abandon or avoid applying themselves to your goals. I don’t know you, nor am I a mind reader, so I’ll be doing some guesswork here. 

You have labeled yourself average and ordinary. These terms signify that you are just like the rest of us mortals. It is not a justification for being unable to complete tasks you set for yourself. Let’s look at why you stop, put off, delay, abandon, or avoid applying yourself to goals you have assigned yourself.

Many people procrastinate because of a deep-set fear of failure. Often it is based on the false evaluation that you are not good or capable enough to succeed. Rather than fail, a person will put off going through with the task to not admit a failure. In a way, accepting defeat in a job gives a person evidence that confirms that they are not good enough.

You have mentioned failure concerning your actions. Many people procrastinate because of this deep-set fear of failure and rejection. Rather than fail, a person will put off going through with the task to not admit failure or face criticism. 

The error in that type of thinking is that people haven’t separated in their mind what a person does from who they are. For example, when I consider who I am, I know that I am a bright, intelligent, and resourceful man. And I do fail in a lot of things. I can’t dance, I can’t sing, I can’t solve Sudoku puzzles and a great many other things. But those are things that I cannot do, yet I am not a failure as a human being.

Just because you are not an accomplished student does not make you unworthy or not valuable. But what you have been doing is using the reasons for not sticking to the goals as roadblocks. 

It appears that the experiences of procrastination and lack of motivation that you are dealing with both have a common cause. They seem all to be justifications for avoiding producing positive results. It appears that each of them gives you a reasonable excuse for avoiding responsibility for achieving a goal of yours.

I think the most significant and bottom line of these issues is fear. Some say it is short for Forget Everything And Run. Let’s look at why you stop, put off, delay, abandon, and/or avoid applying yourself to goals you have assigned yourself. When we look deeply at our fears, it is usually the fear of failure or rejection that grabs our attention. It comes from the false evaluation that you are not enough: not good enough, not capable enough, not bright enough, and so forth.

Thomas Edison, the inventor of the light bulb, failed the first one hundred times to be successful in developing the bulb. He didn’t quit. Later he said that it took 100 steps to find the right combination. He deserved success because of the mind-set that his failures did not bring shame but instead brought motivation, confidence, and determination. He knew he was on the right path and was OK. 

What will motivate you to action? In the sport of greyhound racing, an artificial or mechanical rabbit is used as a lure to motivate the dogs to chase it as fast as possible. With these animals, their drive is more instinctual than psychological. This is where you differ from the animal in the metaphorical race in which you are engaged. I don’t think the animals choose whether to do their best or not. Human beings do have a choice. 

Motivation is a minute-by-minute decision, just like walking. You regularly choose to take one foot and move it in front of the other, and the next step and the next, and so forth. The minute you decide not to take that next step, you are at a standstill. You will stay in that position forever until you choose to move forward. When you were a small child learning how to walk, you fell many times, but those failures didn’t stop you. You were a brave child! You are now a valuable, worthy person, capable of putting aside the fears and moving forward.

Motivation is another word meaning choice. Be clear that you are choosing to stop working the moment that you stop. It is your responsibility. Take charge and keep deciding to move ahead. So far, in my view, you are choosing the path of failure. Maybe it is to prove that you are right in thinking that it is hopeless for you to create a long-term series of successful actions. 

Only you know the answers; we are just looking at the possibilities. If, for example, your favorite person’s life depended on you completing a group of tasks, would you do them quickly and to the best of your ability? Or if $5 million tax-free were given to you to complete tasks, would you put the immediate effort into working to get the money? I’ll bet you would get right on the job. Or if $5 million wasn’t enough, how about $10 million? I believe everybody has a price. It is all down to a question of motivation. 

The bottom line is that you have to choose to have things different for yourself. I think your first step is to rebuild your self-esteem and claim your worthiness to have what you want in this world. Some research can assist you in this. Start by reading this article on the website. There you will find many tips to help you on that path.  

The career of psychiatric nurse has many practitioners, some of them are outstanding, some are barely competent, and the majority are average. Once you are trained by your instructors, you will fit right in.

 I hope this makes sense to you and will enable you to risk going for the best. Please write back and let me know how you are doing.

Self-Improvement #474220

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