Every muscle tense to fence the enemy within

I’m not giving in to security under pressure. I’m not missing out on the promise of adventure. I’m not giving up on implausible dreams. Experience to extremes.

Those are lyrics from an excellent Rush song titled The Enemy Within. This song has resonated with me very strongly over the past few weeks because of the internal struggle I’ve been undergoing.

I originally had another essay I wanted to post tonight but I just wasn’t feeling it. I decided to write this one, but it’s taken a massive amount of effort to bring it to life.

Since I started writing consistently in January I’ve written over 60000 words. It’s a strong result of which I’ve been very proud. But something happened about 10 days ago. I stopped.

This was one of the results of my 30 days experiment of no internet at home. I was keeping track of how many days in a row I was writing 1000 words using the site chains.cc. The momentum of seeing that unbroken chain for over 45 days was a daily source of fuel that inspired me to write even when I didn’t want to.

But without that visual reminder, the Resistance, my enemy within, reared its ugly head and conspired to keep me from what I want. I started trading in what I wanted in the moment for what I want most. I stopped writing and it sucked.

When I was writing daily, I felt like my thoughts were more organized and I was more at peace with my journey. It was a release valve for pent up creativity and stress. Writing is a way for me to express myself in a way that is uniquely my own.

Sure, we all use the same 26 letters and myriad symbols, but the order in which we place them and the soul, if you will, that we give them makes it entirely unique. These words are mine and that makes them awesome.

When I finished writing for the evening, whether it was a struggle to reach the 1000 word threshold or if I went out of my mind and wrote 3000, the sense of affirmation I got from seeing my words glow back at me was intense.

And yet with all these great reasons about why I shouldn’t stop writing, I did. Maybe I got busy, or tired, or just plain lazy. I had legitimate excuses such as school, funeral, and friends, but those don’t really qualify in my mind. I know that if I really wanted to I could have made it happen. But I didn’t. The rationalizations came flooding in that I would make up those words later by writing 2000 words tomorrow. Well tomorrow became the next day and the next and my unwritten word count ticked up and up.

My internal enemy was even conspiring against me to not write this post. I’m over at my parents’ house doing laundry because my washer died (another excuse) and the urge to just veg on the couch and watch TV is strong. In fact I did that for a bit. Something about sitting down and writing scared me.

Perhaps it’s the fear of success. I’m getting closer to defining what I want out of my future. The Trailblazer program is going well (I promise I’ll post about that at some point) and the path I want to take is less murky. The possibility that I might actually succeed at getting what I want scares me. Actually becoming a good writer and a successful entrepenuer is intimidating as fuck, especially when my whole life has been one giant security blanket.

I recently had coffee with a friend who’s in the Trailblazer program with me and he said something that has really stuck with me. I’m paraphrasing, but the gist is that if what you want to do makes you uncomfortable, then you’re on the right path. Well, I’m fucking uncomfortable. Engineers aren’t supposed to want to be better writers and share stories. Bloggers who get paid to write and create on the internet don’t come with a Ph.D. out of grad school. But that’s what I want.

It scares me to tell that to people, specifically my coworkers, boss, and family. Okay, everybody. The smart and safe path is to find a job which is moderately enjoyable, pays well, and doesn’t kill all of my happiness. That’s what I’m expected to start looking for in the coming months. But I don’t want that. The stars that are laid out for me are not the ones I want. My goal is to change my stars.

And it starts with honesty and commitment. I have to be honest about what I want. If I want to create a life of my own I need to be honest about what’s actually going to get me there. There are an infinite number of things that I can distract myself with which will feed my internal enemy. There’s a small amount of things I can do to actually achieve my dreams. Every action I take needs to be questioned. Is this going to help me get what I want most.? Will going to page 12 on reddit actually help me? No. Will sitting my ass down and writing 1000+ words? Yes. That conversation needs to happen often.

Recommitting myself to writing is also essential. There are a million things I can do besides writing such as improving my blog, designing a product, talking to people, reading random books, but none of these things is going to help me tell my story. I have a message that the world needs (I believe we all do) and I want mine to come out in a way that makes others stop and listen. And to do that, I need to be a good writer and communicator. The fundament of my success will be the quality of my communication. It’s the thing that will get people to pay attention and keep coming back for more. My words need to add value to people’s lives. That kind of impact takes dedicated practice. It’s not going to happen by accident.

Starting today, right now, I’m kickstarting my habit. I’m going to write everyday. 1000 words minimum. I did it for almost two months consistently and it was spectacular. I’m going to fight the resistance and fence the enemy within. If a year from now all I’ve done is write consistently and haven’t been able to make progress on achieving my dreams, then it won’t be a year wasted.

I have to write or die. I like living, ergo, l write.


Is it living, or just existence? 

Yeah, you! It takes a little more persistence

To get up and go the distance


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7 Responses to Every muscle tense to fence the enemy within

  1. Dad March 30, 2012 at 5:52 am #

    You value my opinion? Cool.
    When I first started reading I felt like I was reading a piece by Neil himself. Your writing is amazing. Your words are inspirational to me and had got me thinking about living for the now vs. living for the future. Do not miss out on the promise of adventure.

    In the past 5 years I attended almost 1000 events with Meetup group and my most memorable were the scariest ones. Tubing down the Icheetucknee river, my first overnight, making friends, fighting my enemy within (therapy helps).

    Dreams flow across the heartland
    Feeding on the fires
    Dreams transport desires
    Drive you when you’re down

    • Taylor April 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm #

      It means a lot to me that you would compare me to Neil. He is obviously a great inspiration to me. I’m glad my words are can cause others to be inspired or to think about things. That’s what I really want… My words, spoken or written, to make a difference.

      I know that when we put ourselves outside our comfort zone is when the greatest growth happens and the strongest memories are formed. Hopefully when I’m in FL we can do something crazy scary and create some awesome stories!

  2. Adam March 30, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    Love it! Rock it out! Fight those monsters and write them into oblivion!

  3. Pati March 30, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

    Taylor…this is an awesome piece and you are right on target.

    Don’t let anyone or anything tamper with your dreams. You CAN have it all and the way you want it.

    As you said, you have ask yourself frequently: “Is this going to help me move closer to my goal?”

    I can’t wait to see where you are in a year!

    • Taylor April 1, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

      Thanks Pati! I can’t wait to see either. Every day it doesn’t feel like anything really changes, but when I look back several weeks or months, I can see the progress of all the little changes I’ve made. I know I can do it!

  4. Beth March 31, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    This post really resonated with me, Taylor. I get uncomfortable when people ask me what I’m doing with my life as a 24 year old and I launch into my awkward little song and dance about being in accounting school, and explaining how my first major was about as useless as a screen door on a submarine. It’s kind of embarrassing, because while I’m telling people this, I’m judging myself. Shouldn’t I be done with school at 24? Shouldn’t I be nodding my head enthusiastically when asked if I’m planning on marriage and kids soon? Those little minions in our heads sure are annoying!
    But when it all comes down to it, we’re doing what we want. We’re pursuing what we’re supposed to be doing and what other people think or expect matters less than a moldy piece of dog crap.
    I’m really proud of you for sticking to your guns and continuing to write because you know it’s taking you in a meaningful direction. Keep up the good work!

    • Taylor April 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

      Isn’t it crazy how we judge ourselves based on the uspoken thoughts of others? We don’t even know what they’re thinking but we become self-conscious and insecure. Our own uncertainty taints our interactions with others unfortunately. Our biggest challenge to our own success, I’ve learned, is generally ourself.

      You’re on the right path too. STay true to yourself and your heart.

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