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Recurring Recurrences That Hold Us Back

I have a frequent dream that I am still in high school or college. It is never the same school, nor the ones I actually attended or ones from which I graduated. However, in the dream I’m in an academic frame of mind, enjoying the school life and doing well. Four years seem to pass in the blink of an eye. I find myself in my last semester and it is time for my Math final, but then I realize that I didn’t go to Math class once all semester, and I’m paralyzed with fear, shame and guilt.

I am in a panic and have no idea what to do. At that point, I usually abruptly wake up and remember that I did indeed graduate from high school and college, and somehow, some way passed Math. That doesn’t mean that these dreams don’t shake me up a little, and make me wonder what my subconscious is trying to tell me.

Numbers to me are like a foreign language and have baffled me for most of my life. Funnily, I’m a whiz at figuring out percentages when it comes to sales at stores and the appropriate tip at restaurants. Otherwise, Math causes me to sweat, feel anxious and usually my brain starts to hurt and just shuts down. I remember a time when I actually liked Math and excelled because I had a patient, knowledgeable and friendly teacher who took our class on the Math journey. However, I remember when the tough stuff stumped me, I sort of gave up.

Are there things as challenging to you in your life as Math is to me? Do you just shut the door when your demon’s evil red eyes are staring you right in the face? It could be something at work. A relationship. An addiction (and I mean any addiction – overeating, shopping, drinking, lottery tickets, negativity, hell, even your blackberry …). Do you resign yourself and let these problems win? Don’t worry. We all do it. I don’t think we realize how much these recurring problems hold us back in our lives.

I sometimes wonder if I had faced Math head on, that I would’ve had a higher GPA and not be awoken in the middle of the night by nightmares long after I should be worried about passing Math. However, it is too late to go back and learn Algebra, Geometry and Trig again. That is behind me. Luckily I have a handy calculator that helps me along the way, and I’m not being graded on how well I can remember the Pythagorean Theorem.

But I know that there are some things wrong in my life that I ignore, push aside, sweep under the rug and rationalize away. These are things that could possibly boost me into a professional and personal level at which I’ve always wanted to be. Some force, some unseen, powerful force causes me and many people to stay exactly where we are. Most of the time, it is fear of the unknown, fear that we’ll fail and fear that we won’t do as well as we hoped.

I used to be very nervous in J-School (that’s Journalism School to you) that my articles would not be up to par. I shared this with one of my wonderful professors, Dr. Gerald Grow. He told me, “Mandy, please write the worst article you’ve ever written. I want it to be awful and horrible. Do you feel better now?” And I kind of did. It took away the expectations, the fear that my article would not be what he wanted. I remember I wrote a pretty awesome article (for an aspiring journalist), and Dr. Grow was thrilled. He knew exactly what he was doing.

That leads me to ask, why are we so hard on ourselves? People like Dr. Grow know that when we’re kinder to ourselves, we do much better. When we push ourselves a little, and let go of the fear, things just fall into place.

I still struggle, and have doubts. I want to do certain things, but still am afraid. But I also know that things are never as bad or as hard as we think they will be. Our worst fears usually never come true. A wise man named Tom Petty once sang “I’m so tired of being tired. Sure as night will follow day. Most things I worry about never happen anyway.”

I don’t have all the answers, and I am definitely not exactly where I want to be in all areas of my life. I’m a person just like you. Figuring it all out. Tripping and falling, climbing that slippery glass hill. I try to think of things I want and want to do, and I try to visualize it actually happening.

Sometimes it is hard to even get my mind to be still and quiet for long, but once I do, it is like dreaming during the day, but controlling those pesky uncertain thoughts and nightmares and wrangling them into what we really want.

I hope you’ll take a minute. Close your eyes. Think of something you want, want to do, want to change or want to improve. It definitely takes practice, being nicer to ourselves, pushing past our fears and demons and being able to take hold of what we want, and actually see it happening. But, once we can take some time to focus on the good things that are in store for us, this is the recurring dream that I’m sure all of us will welcome, and one from which we won’t want to wake up.

><(("> Mandy Stark

Mandy is a ><(("> Friend of Catch Your Limit, a marketing firm with offices in Tallahassee, Florida and Richmond, Virginia. To contact Mandy email her at or to learn more about Catch Your Limit, visit

Posted in Miscellaneous.


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