The two most difficult parts of any endeavor are starting and finishing. Starting because it’s so filled with uncertainty, you don’t know what to expect, there’s a lot to make you anxious and afraid, sometimes enough to leave you paralyzed and unable to actually begin. There are the times you just have to jump in. You can submerge yourself like you’re trying to acclimatize to cold water at the beach. Or you can ease in, step by step, phase by phase until you are fully covered. Once you’ve made that first step despite the fear, uncertainty and challenges you have conquered a major part of the struggle.
Ending is also frightening because things can become overwhelming. I noticed a pattern at the end of both my undergrad and masters degrees. It was as if I suddenly developed some sort of attention deficit disorder and became unable to concentrate. It had a lot to do with anxiety for me. I have to force myself to do what I need to do to finish. I constantly have to tell myself “One last push, you can do this. Don’t stop now.” That last hill we climb can be a doozie.
The two hardest things are starting and finishing – yet they are the two most important things. Good intentions and ideas are nothing until you take action. Then when you start you need to follow through and finish. Giving up is not necessary and simply cannot be an option if something is important to you. Procrastinating, or not finishing leave you with a burden at the back of your mind. You drag this burden along and can get stuck. It can hamper forward movement and growth if you leave things unresolved. The psychological freedom of having resolved something gives you space to move forward and continue positive growth rather than staying stuck.
The thing with ending is that when one thing ends, something else begins. For me, when masters ended I officially became unemployed and my job search began. That in itself is scary and technically I haven’t properly started yet: still updating my resume and that sort of stuff. But again, I’m at that scary starting point. Uncertainty seems to be life’s only certainty – because everything has a start and an end, both of which are covered in the stuff.
So I guess the best thing to do is realize this is how it will always be – there will always be fear and uncertainty at the beginning, ending, and all up in the middle of everything you do in the construction and creation of your life. The thing is to not let that fear and uncertainty paralyze you – keeping you from starting and ending. We can take a note from the book of artist Georgia O’Keefe who said “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.”
So go on. Get started. Get finished. Fear ain’t shit compared to what you have to offer the world.