Beowulf, Tolkien, Overcoming Anxiety, and Momentum in Life

A few things happened to me today. First, I overcame my fear of public speaking by making a presentation to my class at University about the contrasts between the poetic epic that is Beowulf and the masterpieces which Tolkien had produced. I don’t know if any of you had known, but Tolkien was kind of a Beowulf fanboy.

HobbitHole

For anyone who doesn’t know, Beowulf was actually an epic style poem written over a thousand years in England. It’s a pretty bad-ass poem too, although it’s about 3200 lines long! So don’t expect to finish it in a single sitting unless you’re tackling it like Netflix binge.

Topic spoiler alert: Both stories have Dragons which slumber on piles of gold and are disturbed by a thief, sending them out into the world to lay destruction on those nearby.

There were many other similarities too, but I think this was the most glaringly obvious similarity.

…What was I talking about again?

Oh yeah… So anyways, I made the presentation which was supposed to last 20 minutes and it was made in 5 days. I’ve been super stressed about this presentation because that was a hell of a time-crunch. It was also my first group assignment, and it didn’t go quite as smoothly as I had hoped but we did pretty good given our circumstances. Being the perfectionist that I am, I would have loved to spend another week refining it though. 😛

So, hell yeah! Go me. 

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Social anxiety be damned. I’m going to overcome these fears of re-integrating with school and my own senseless doubts about whether or not I can achieve what I want to achieve. At my core I know that I can do anything, but I still have to struggle with that annoying little voice sometimes that whispers,

“You’re not smart enough… or brave enough… or likable enough”

I’ve struggled with my presentation, I’ve been tense worrying about how it all might go and I even allowed it to spark a feud between myself and someone close to me. I’ve realized that I can be a jerk sometimes when I’m mad and stressed out. I grew up in a family where there was a lot of fighting so sometimes stress plus minor conflicts can bring out the worst in me. I’m working on trying to re-direct and shape new behaviors from the old but it takes work and time. I still stumble and make mistakes and fall into old “comfy” habits… WolfAnger

We’re all good now anyways… After my presentation I was over the moon about having finished that assignment, so I went for a run and I ran like a mad man. I ran until I was exhausted and then I’d walk for a bit and then, repeat the process. It felt really good! The more I do, the better I feel about me…

While I was running I realized there is a truth to life which I had to put into words. It is not possible to sit still in your life. That doesn’t exist. You are always going to be travelling in one of two directions. Closer to your goals, closer to liberation and happiness, closer to a better version of yourself, closer to love, or you are drifting farther away from these things. There is no idling in life, our time is limited and we will always be going closer towards those things that we want or further away from them.

If one does not make efforts to get closer to one’s goals, then you are drifting away from them slowly. Everything that we are hoping for in our futures requires energy produced from inside to propel us forward, otherwise we’re drifting backwards.

I like to imagine that we are in a canoe or a kayak, trying to paddle out of an inlet but the water is pushing us back towards the shore gently. We need to be paddling with some speed to overcome the water. Life is like that, and we need to always paddling, otherwise we’re being shoved backwards. When we decide to just “float” in life, we are slowly being pushed backwards, without even realizing it. Farther from our dreams. Farther from our hopes and aspirations. Farther from our next healthy habit or healthy change. We drift slowly backwards without the purposeful intention to move forward.

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So, keep pushing forward every day, and don’t lose your drive. You need to push on, even through your fears and doubts. It doesn’t have to be to the point of exhaustion, just do more than “maintain”. We can always change what our goals and ambitions are along the way. You’re allowed to change your mind about your life’s direction! Just keep momentum going wherever your heart pulls you. Live your life with excitement. What a gift we have been given, to experience this Universe consciously, and yet it is a temporary gift. We must show our appreciation for this gift by living for experiences and with courage. We must be brave. We must challenge ourselves. We must do our best to love it and make the best of it.

Money. Power. Social Status. Those things all mean shit if you aren’t happy with your life except for those things. What matters is that you are happy with yourself and who you are, both inside and out. It matters if you are happy rather than kinda happy. Kinda happy is okay, but push for happy. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Wishing you all the best, dear friends. Thoughts? Comments?

55 thoughts on “Beowulf, Tolkien, Overcoming Anxiety, and Momentum in Life

  1. This post just hit the spot, one I’ve been trying to not see. Currently, I’m floating or in a standstill and I can feel things drifting far away but I don’t do anything and say I’m not ready yet or I don’t know how to fix it.
    Glad your presentation went well. Love Beowulf and I’m a fan of Tolkien. Wonderful post Mathew and oh good luck on changing habits (it’s hard).

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I have so much to say!

    1. I too am a Beowulf fangirl. I was introduced to it in the 2nd grade and have since read it countless times, each time discovering different things (not unlike Tolkien).

    2. I’m sorry you have a fear of public speaking, but way to work through that and have the emotional maturity to look at how you acted when you were stressed.

    3. I love the tone of this piece and the way you write as if you’re retelling a story to a friend. The pictures were fun too. The one with the raised triumphant arms made me actually laugh out loud.

    4. This ended un such an insightful and inspirational note.

    Well done 😊

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Thought provoking piece Mathew. Congratulations on successfully completing and presenting your assignment. It doesn’t matter how old we are, we have to maintain forward momentum. Once we stop paddling…..it’s over.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. So happy that you overcome your fear of public speaking. That’s a natural talent for me but it can be petrifying. I learnt a away to cope with it though, stare at the wall at the back of the audience, LOL. I find the best me time I have is reading a book under a tree and just doing nothing. I have the problem of wanting to do everything and I do, sports, culture the lot of it, so it’s nice to get quiet time. I especially find hiking and swimming relaxing. Thank you for this post, it opened my view on things a bit.
    Kind regards
    Kenya

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Good job! I really struggled with giving presentations to the point where I almost dropped my speech class in college (a required class) cause I was so scared. But I did the class. Now, I still try to push myself to be uncomfortable so that I can work on my social anxiety. I’m not as scared anymore. Feels great!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Poetry slams are a great way to overcome public speaking anxiety . I recall reading Beowulf with a friend of mine in high school and for some reason we found “Barney” so out of character we laughed every time we read his name. We were quite silly. 😊 Great post Mathew.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Brilliant post mate, ive discovered that in life too that if you’re not growing or moving forward, life becomes stagnant and we don’t develope as people. Also liked the post because I’m a huge J.r.r Tolkien fan.

    Keep up the good work mate!

    Liked by 2 people

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