The Capability Conundrum

They say you can do anything you put your mind to. If you dream it, believe it, you can be any and every thing you could possibly imagine. They tell you to never give up, because with a little hope, a lot of hard work and just enough whimsy you too can be all you can be and more. 100% money back guarantee.

While it is fine and dandy to be an idealist, at some point, you have to base your life and your actions in reality. At some point you have to know what is in the actual realm of possibility. Too much time in the clouds causes an illness known as delusion, which kills the spirits of thousands daily. Wise up, or become a casualty to the dying of the light.

But there’s a flip side. You can become too cautious, too afraid to try, to test the waters, to push boundaries, to make the impossible possible. Innovators, trendsetters, social disruptors, they all had to exist  in a space that has not yet come to be, to see something beyond the tangible horizon. With each limitation you set for yourself, you create invisible boundaries, roadblocks that prevent you from becoming the bar that every else is measured against.

But you have to be reasonable, right? In my 28 years of life, I have already discovered with (almost) absolute certainty what I capable of. I am smart, but not overly so-essentially the sort of smart that comes from years of conditioning and two expensive degrees. I am quite empathetic, which is great for making friends but not so great when trying to make objective decisions.  I’m cute, but no model. Well-liked, but not exactly popular. I am funny but won’t be getting a Netflix special anytime soon. I can sing (kinda), I can dance (eh), and I can act (barely). Writing is probably one of my biggest strengths, and even then I doubt I will be the next Toni Morrison.

I’m a host of things above average and right in between, just enough of everything that I am often led to believe I really can be anything. But being a collection, a collage of half-formed traits and skills, a walking talking construction zone still under development leaves me unsure of whether I am not living up to my potential or if this is it.

And that is my conundrum. How do I know if I am boxing myself in, falsely assuming I am incapable of something that perhaps I could achieve? How can I tell the difference between fanciful overindulgence and inadvertent self-sabotage? Once the words “I can’t” are uttered, you have an automatic out.  What if I am not developing a deeper understanding of who I am but creating excuses that set me up for failure? What if instead of the fairy godmother in my tale, I am actually the evil witch? Or something less obvious, like a seemingly benign apple laced with my doom?

I don’t know honestly. I am sure I will screw up either way,  by playing it too safe, or not safe enough. To be bold or not to be bold. That is indeed the question. For now, I suppose I am just treading water, hoping the current doesn’t take me under and the weather holds up. I guess that’s the most any of us can hope for-to be capable enough to survive long enough for any of it to matter.

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