Repost: On the killing of metaphorical bears
Note: This is from an old blog of mine, but it’s the sort of thing I need reminding of occasionally and I can’t afford a tattoo of Anthony Hopkins yelling about bears on the back of my hand, so I’m just going to repost it here, with relevant details updated.
Note 2: Now I kind of want a tattoo of Anthony Hopkins yelling about bears on the back of my hand.
Note 3: Dear self: Don’t you dare go searching for custom temporary tattoos. I will hide your wallet. Don’t test me; so help me, I’ll do it.
There are plenty of ways to bolster your self-confidence before charging ahead. Some people give themselves pep talks. Some listen to “We Are the Champions” to jazz themselves up. Maori warriors – as I learned from Deadliest Warrior, an amazing feat of television – do an intimidating dance heading into battle.
Me, I quote The Edge.
The Edge, for the uninformed, is a dumb adventure movie that features Anthony Hopkins getting hunted by a man-hungry bear. His friend wants to give up and let the bear win, but Anthony Hopkins – who thinks he’s a survival expert because he read a book on the subject – comes up with a daring plan to kill the bear. But first he has to convince his friend. He accomplishes this by inspirational yelling.
“I’m going to kill the bear!” he shouts. “Say it, Bob! Say ‘I’m going to kill the bear!'”
His friend yells that he can’t, Anthony Hopkins yells back, “Say it! Say ‘I’m going to kill the bear!'” and by the end of the scene, they’re both sitting in the wilderness yelling, “I’m going to kill the bear!” at the top of their lungs.
I don’t know why the line stuck with me, but whenever I run into a situation that requires a level of confidence or bravery, I find myself thinking, “I’m going to kill the bear!”
Knitting project needs a big push to finish? I’m going to kill the bear!
Two more days until this art commission is due, and I haven’t slept more than three hours a night in a week? I’m going to kill the bear!
Staring down the end of the fantasy trilogy I’ve been working on since I was fourteen? I’m going to kill the bear!
And it helps. Thinking “I’m going to kill the bear!” in decisive Anthony Hopkins voice makes me feel like I am going to kill the bear. I think it works because saying that to myself is so ridiculous I can’t help but take it to heart.
Right now I’ve got a lot on my plate. I’m in the last leg of self-publishing a coloring book – the leg where it’s all formatting and review. I’m learning the ropes of self-promotion as a shy person. I’m staring down the end of the day job I’ve had since undergrad and having to decide exactly what kind of new jobs I want to look for, and whether I can be a good enough, professional enough creative person to make a go of that as a part-time job. I’ve got about a million little projects on my desk at home, and about a million social and family obligations this month that are eating up just as much of my time, and more useless anxieties than you can shake an overloaded pony at. But it’s all good. Because y’know what?
I’m going to kill the bear.