I saw an old friend the other day. We met several years ago, and despite various circumstances, we always stayed in touch. We always used to have great talks, good discussions. He is one person who sees the world in a similar way to the way I see do, and so our chats always end up on the same note, the same page, or in a similar way. He had been away in a foreign country for a long time, and we hadn't seen each other in quite a while, so we had lots to catch up on. What we mainly talked about was how we felt we had changed in response to things that had happened in our lives during that span of time. It was fun to find out we had both learned similar lessons, and had both changed in similar ways.
One thing that kept coming up in our chat was the way we had overcome various limitations that we felt had constrained us in the past, how patterns of behaviour keep on cropping up, and how difficult it sometimes could be to succumb to the old ways of thinking or doing things. For him, he was able to sustain some major changes while he was away from his friends and family, and he was very pleased about that. Now that he is back home, certain pressures to conform to the old idea of who he was and how he acted are coming up all the time. I found this was true for me, as well, when I came back home from only a few short months of living away. I had made changes that I was happy with, and when I returned, it was very easy to revert back to old habits. For example, both of us, when we lived away from home, were very active and fit. When we came back, we stopped working out. Why? Because when we lived here, we were not active and fit, and so it's easy to revert back to the old familiar life.
The main thing we agreed on in regard to limitations was that most often, nobody hold us back but us. If you think of something that you have "always wanted to do", but haven't yet done, 9 times out of 10, the reason you haven't done it is because you haven't allowed yourself. It's not that somebody else is preventing you from doing that thing – it's you! So, then, the question becomes: do you truly want it? If you haven't allowed yourself to accomplish that thing, why not? Do you really want it, truly? Or are you perhaps afraid of what will happen if you actually do it?
I have discovered a limitation of my own, or rather, I have rediscovered a limitation that I have always had. I enrolled in a class this year that I thought would be difficult but interesting: philosophy of biology. Difficult, because I do not have an affinity for science, and I didn't study even the basics of any science in high school, which was 11 years ago. Interesting, mainly because of the philosophy of Darwin. Anyway, I went to my first class the other day, and I was completely overwhelmed. It was a two hour lecture, which didn't help, but I felt like I couldn't keep up at all. My head hurt by the end of the lecture. I went home dejected. I started the readings for next week. By the third sentence, my mind was wandering and I had that headache again. I was disappointed in myself. When I signed up, I really felt as though I could do it; I could take this course and do well, and learn a lot and enjoy it. After the first day, I realized that was a pipe dream. There was no way I was going to be able to write knowledgeably about biology – NO WAY! So, this seemed to me to be a natural limitation. But, it's not, really. I could, if I so chose, study really hard, read additional text books, talk to people who know lots about biology, get extra help from the prof or TA, study with a partner, etc. However, I am making the decision not to do that, because it just isn't that important to me. I dropped the class and transferred into one I know I will do well in – philosophy of language.
I hold myself back in all sorts of ways. I prevent myself from being as creative and artistic as I think I could be, and want to be. Nobody is stopping me from playing piano everyday, or painting, or writing stories. Just me. I prevent myself from being as active and fit as I want to be. Nobody keeps me from working out, or doing yoga, or going running, or lifting weights. Just me. I prevent myself from doing all sorts of things that I would love to do, like travel, buy a home, be debt-free, learn a language. I just don't do it! But I am slowly getting there, breaking down the limitations I have set up for myself. After all, I always wanted to study philosophy, and look at me now! It just requires the right amount of energy and dedication, and I know I will be able to do all the things I want to do in life, one limitation at a time.