Posted in Of Funnies, Of Life's Dramedies, Of Psyche

Of Showing Up


Eighty percent of success is showing up. – Woody Allen

Psychologists believe that the more you avoid or prolong meeting with the source of your fear, the more it will get intensified. That is why a number of phobias are treated with what is called exposure therapy, where, under controlled conditions with guidance from your therapist, you confront your fear gradually until you, hopefully, overcome it. Though this is a procedure only applied in more intensive cases, most of us have this avoidance = intensification scenario in most things we do.

I have a pair of slippers that need to be repaired. Every Sunday, I forget about them. There are a couple of pairs of jeans I have that I wish to donate, but I have to get the zippers fixed first. They have been lying around, gathering dust, for over one and a half years. Now, these are hardly matters I’d raise with a therapist (though my experiences with therapists are made of stuff you would not, and certainly not I at the time, expect). But, they bug me to no end everyday, making me think something is wrong with me, intensifying the lousiness I feel at forgetting about them. Maybe, one of these days when I do show up, at the cobbler’s and the tailor’s respectively, what I will feel is not just the eighty percent of success in showing up, but the rest twenty percent of absolute joy in doing so.

Success isn’t enough of a reason to show up. It isn’t an appealing enough incentive. It is nowhere near the relief you feel when you have showed up for what makes you feel something greater than mild discomfort and, hopefully, less than genuine-horror-I-may-have-a-panic-attack. For anxious people, a comforting sandwich with a side of fries is more celebratory than an award. I’d even prefer nibbling at that sandwich while I show up, though most scenarios that require showing up won’t allow it. Even the tailor would find it very, very weird of me to be eating a sandwich nervously while telling him, way too fast, that I need to get a couple of jeans repaired or I might have a nervous breakdown. However, the sandwich would actually lessen my embarrassment, as my mouth would be too full of food to speak. I think that is why eating was invented. Not just for pleasure and nourishment, but also to substitute the foot in your mouth that will inevitably happen when you show up.

The novelist Ian McEwan has talked about the importance of showing up – for him, sitting at his computer in the morning. Lee Child has a separate flat for it in his building without internet or people. Dan Brown has a separate building on his property. McEwan’s setting seems more affordable for a broke aspiring writer, but even as I have more resources than I’d like to give credit for – i.e., a laptop, internet access, books, pen, paper, time, capability to buy all of these except time – showing up is still a scary, scary thing. Probably because I’ve let not showing up grow, by whatever life had to offer instead. It isn’t a fear, because I love writing. It’s a bit like not watching a TV show you haven’t seen yet that you know you are going to like, like it is for Game of Thrones and myself.

There are mysterious reasons why we don’t show up even for things we love. Maybe, because we are scared of loving it too much. Maybe we are scared of losing ourselves in it, and thus losing a sense of the life we’ve built for ourselves. Maybe, because we are more scared of change than we are in love with our potential loves. And yet, success in anything, personal and professional, is often the result of chaos, broken promises, a life of disorder and ignorance of responsibility. No one says success has to be perfect. But, it wouldn’t hurt to show up and see if it’s worth it.


Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

12 thoughts on “Of Showing Up

  1. “And yet, success in anything, personal and professional, is often the result of chaos, broken promises, a life of disorder and ignorance of responsibility.”
    That’s very true, I wish more people realised that.

  2. “I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.” says Bill Gates. (I don’t know whether he really said it or not but the logic seems rational.)
    I don’t remember from whom I have heard or where I have learned about this, but I always finish first, the things that I dislike or looks like a bit harder to do, and enjoy the rest of the day with my inner peace.
    I would like to hear about your news when showing up at the cobbler’s and the tailor’s, about the joy you may share with us, with your of opinions and whether it was worth it.
    Thank you for a good post that helped me pull myself together.

      1. Me too! I think that is what successful people avoid. They wouldn’t do things that don’t interest them in the first place. And even if they have to, they won’t drag it on forever.

    1. Now, Bill Gates should certainly give me a job!
      I am not averse to hard work. If I am motivated, I can work non-stop with full concentration. But, if I’m feeling anxious or unmotivated, I’ll do anything but work, if I can help it. I wish I could do the harder thing first, but, though I keep trying, I haven’t been able to.
      And I shall definitely keep you posted on the jeans and the slippers!
      I’m really happy my post could help you feel better. It’s good to know that this blog is of use from time to time. Hope you are feeling better today. Thanks for reading!

      1. Of Opinions is always “of use.” I would like to make this point clear.
        I will be receiving your news about the zippers and the slippers in “Of Opinions”, I know.
        Thank you for writing in the first place. There was not much left for me to do, other than reading it with joy and appreciating your effort.

      2. Oh Meyla, that makes me well up with tears, and you might know how hard that is with this terrible cold I’ve been having! You just gave me two fantastic ideas “Of Use” and “Of Zippers and Slippers”. Thank you so much for reading. Hope my blog always entertains you.

  3. I can totally relate to what you said about TV shows because in the past I have avoided watching the premiere episodes of new series simply because if I liked them, it would be an hour a week taken away from my writing time, and that was time I was worried about losing. How silly is that?

    1. I think that is very, very practical. I admire your will power. The problem with TV becoming so good nowadays( though I think TV was always good, its films that have decreased in quality) you end up giving anything between 6 to 24 hours of your life to that, whereas a movie would only be about 2 hours, plus you would feel like a social being by going outside and meeting people.

      1. Exactly, plus I felt like I did a good deed by giving my TV to a young man who had no form of entertainment in his apartment, and no way to purchase any. As long as I have my laptop, I’m set. I’ll read you later.

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