Why I Wish I Could Start My Life Again And Why You Need To Stop Listening To The Lizard
The arrival of my niece Scarlett Audrey has stirred emotions in me I never thought existed. She is exquisite, beautiful and unlike any newborn child I’ve ever seen. She really is precious and angelic and I want to protect her as best I can.
That is my mission.
My brother and his wife have indeed created an exquisite human being.
I look at Scarlett and admire her. I admire her for being completely untarnished. She does not have a belief system, she’s unscathed and she hasn’t been influenced or educated yet (although I realize she is probably being influenced sub-consciously). She’s in the perfect position to start afresh. She has the ability and the power right now to create whatever life she wants.
In a strange kind of way I envy Scarlett. There are times I wish I could start my life over and turn the clock back in many ways. I would be lying if I didn’t admit I have regrets. While I have led an incredible life thus so far and I know I am fortunate than many other people, there are things I would do differently. I would have moved to Melbourne immediately after university, I would have continued living overseas longer than I did, I wish I wasn’t as eager to please so many people, I wish I was more career-driven in my 20’s, I wish I made more eye contact, I wish I had set goals, I wish I wasn’t so shy and I wish had the confidence to ask that cute boy for a drink.
I wanted to be a journalist or an advertising executive when I was in high school. I did photography in my final year.
I wish I had never let my damn insecurities affect me the way they did.
I wish I was 10 years younger. I know that’s impossible now but it’s the truth.
Most of all, I wish I never listened to the lizard brain.
I disagree with anyone who says it’s wrong to set goals. I know for a fact if I was a more focused, goal-driven person in my early 20’s, my life would be very different than what it is today.
Seth Godin is a genius. If you haven’t read any of his books, you should pick this one up. Linchpin is what I’m reading now and in it he says when we are kids, beautiful art – questions, curiosity and spontaneity – poured out of us. Then as we got older, resistance started to kick in. Thanks to disorganised hazing by friends, raised eyebrows from the family, and well-meaning, well-organised but toxic school rules, the resistance gained strength. The resistance is always there – it’s evident in everything you do.
The resistance is the voice in the back of our head telling us to back off, be careful, go slow, compromise. The resistance is writer’s block and putting jitters and every project that ever shipped late because people couldn’t stay on the same page long enough to get something out the door.
The lizard is resistance.
The lizard is a physical part of your brain, the pre-historic lump near the brain stem that is responsible for fear and rage and reproductive drive. Why did the chicken cross the road? Because her lizard brain told her to. Seriously Seth Godin is a genius. Learn more about the lizard brain here.
The lizard wants you to fail. And for most of us, we allow it.
It was because of the lizard I didn’t pursue being a journalist, advertising executive or photographer.
As we get older the lizard brain gets larger. We are all born with a lizard brain but we let it dictate us and control our thoughts. I didn’t know it until now but the lizard took control of every aspect of my being; it wrapped itself around me like a python and it breathed the life out of me.
I listened to the lizard when it told me I should return to Australia at aged 28 because I was getting too old and it was time to settle down. Hmm well not a lot has changed. I listened to it when I took roles that required no intelligence and certainly no university degree.
Yes I could go on. It’s getting a little depressing. I promise this does get better.
I want to protect and nurture Scarlett and tell her to never be afraid, never feel she has to conform or to look a certain way because well it’s er… safe. To have plenty of confidence and courage and to never feel she’s unworthy and dispensable. To be the leader not the follower and to allow her voice to be heard.
As Seth Godin explains, the amygdala isn’t going away. Your lizard brain is here to stay, and your job is to figure out how to quiet it and ignore it.
Right now the lizard is asleep in Scarlett. And I want it to remain that way.
I want her to conquer the world, sing, paint, write, photograph, create and express without reservation or fear. Show off her inner qualities, her irresistibility and to act like she doesn’t have a care in the world.
As for me, I’m at the beginning of my life too and that lizard can go shed its tail.
And yes I DID take that photograph of Scarlett. The lizard was asleep when I took it.