Sunday, September 11, 2011

On Starting and Finishing

It is a well known fact that I am excellent at starting things and not so excellent at finishing them. When I took a Myers Briggs test five years ago and it declared me to be an INFP (introverted, intuitive, feeler, perceiver) I fully claimed this identity. I basically stamped the letters INFP onto my forehead. “I start things and I don’t finish them!” - was my mantra. I think I did this because I was noticing a tendency in my life to fail. I failed to pass my classes because I didn’t try to. I failed to finish post-secondary programs because I lost interest in them. I was always quitting jobs that I had once been convinced were right for me. Deep down inside, I was afraid – no, terrified – that there was something seriously wrong with me. Why did I find it so easy to start things, and so hard to finish them? Myers Briggs gave me a label that I could hide behind.

Everything changed this year. After yet another failure (quitting my program at school last fall) I started writing again. Writing stories. Something I hadn’t done since before going to university. I started writing and I didn’t stop. I started a novel. Then I middled it. And then… I finished it. I finished a whole novel! When I realized this, I had to take a step back. Me, an INFP, perpetual starter and never finisher… finished a novel? What in the world was going on?

I think I’ve figured it out. I think that maybe my reasons for always starting things and never finishing them was because I was starting the wrong things. It was like I had writer’s block - but in everyday life. And the solution to writer’s block is to always go back. Go back to a part in the story that was working. And then re-write from there.

So that’s what I did. I went back to the thing that used to work: storytelling. And now I’m re-writing my life. I’m re-writing the part where I decided I’m a failure and claimed an identity that wasn’t quite true. Yes, I am excellent at starting things. But now I can also say with pride that I finish things too. Or at least, I finished one thing.

I’m holding on to that.

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