“What would you do if you knew you were 100 percent worthy?”
I read this tidbit of pure wisdom in Oprah’s book “The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose.” It was said by singer/songwriter India.Arie.
When I read this simple, but powerful question, its candor slapped me in the face. I read it again and then again.
What would I do?
Of course I don’t have to ask because I already know. I’ve always known: Write.
For me, identifying the “what” is simple. But actually sitting down and putting pen to paper–or hands to keyboard–is entirely another matter.
Things–everything–gets in the way. And I let it.
But to be fair, writing is anything but easy. It’s strenuous work organizing coherent thoughts on a page from random ramblings. (And I have a lot of incoherent/half-written/strange/untitled musings written in various Google Docs.)
Here are a few tips I’ve been implementing into my life–so I avoid a major self-sabotage and to remind myself that I am worthy–before I dive into a creative project:
Create your “permission”
Recently, I had a friend tell me that she couldn’t wait to start grad school so she’d “have a reason to write again.”
That struck me. I often need a “reason” to write too. We need inspiration, an idea or something prompting us to actually begin a creative project, right?
And we don’t need jobs or classes forcing us to do the thing we want to do. We are allowed to be selfish and do things because we need or want to–for no grade or monetary value. Creativity should be something that fulfills us on a personal and emotional level.
To be honest, I sought out my current job for this very reason: I wanted to work in content production because I wanted an outlet for my creativity.
But, it wasn’t enough. I needed to write for myself. I needed to tell my truth.
Owning your truth
In my case, writing is an intimate art form. I write what I know and believe. My writing is deeply personal. It’s me sharing my truth.
When I think of truth telling, I think of Glennon Doyle. She is candid and unapologetic, in both her life and in her writing. Basically, everything I want to be. (Sidebar: If you haven’t read her latest book “Untamed”, you definitely should!).
She has written about her past experiences with addiction, motherhood, divorce and leaving her husband for her wife–all of which inspire me to live (and write) my unapologetic truth.
Glennon began writing to share her experiences with the world, or as she says, “I was going to make people feel better about their insides by showing them mine.”
Letting go of fear
Truth telling is scary business because you open yourself up to judgment. And if you publish your ideas on any medium, it calls for people to stop, take time out of their busy days to care about what you have to say. Your work demands time. And dang–that’s a lot of pressure to make your work thought-provoking, clever, engaging, etcetera etcetera etcetera.
When I think of fear standing in the way of what I want, I remember what Karmao Brown, from Queer Eye, said when he was on the Ryan Seacrest show. When asked what he finds most common with people on his show he replied,
“[The most common issue I find is that] people are scared. Scared of change; scared of people’s reactions; scared of judgment — it’s fear. I think people too often live in fear-based decisions. They don’t know how to make a love-based decision which is me saying ‘I’m going to put myself first; That I believe in myself; That I know I can do it.’ We’re trained as a culture … that it’s easier to say no than it is yes to yourself.”
Here’s my truth: Fear always stops me. I’m scared that no one out there will care about my writing. I’m scared that someone will care. Scared that someone won’t read my article. Or that someone will.
Basically, I’m a hot mess of fear, anxiety and self-criticism.
I don’t have a magic answer for how not to let fear hold you back, but I think recognizing it is the first step toward change. I also think that we shouldn’t be so scared of failure.
I’ll end with this quote:
“We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.”Arianna Huffington