Sometimes I feel compelled to write very honest, vulnerable posts that make me feel terrified and exposed when I publish them. This is one of those posts.
I took the last few months of 2012 easy as far as my career goes. I emptied out my Etsy shop, went on blogging hiatus, and journaled. A lot. And I went for a lot of walks. I asked myself a lot of questions and went through a lot of old, deep beliefs that were holding me back and preventing me from being as creative and authentic as I could be. After a few months of that, I felt ready to get back on the horse and put my art and writing back out there.
For a few days, I did everything on my to-do list, but then I got stuck. I felt a little overwhelmed, so I took a night off to watch a movie and sip orange tea. After that, I still didn’t feel like working. I didn’t feel overwhelmed though, and I know well that overwhelm isn’t this much of an issue when I feel good about whatever I’m doing. What the heck was going on?
A few days later, I realized that I was afraid. Fear is the reason I scaled back in the first place, but this time was different. I got out my lime green journal and the thoughts flowed out, without judgement or bias.
I realized that I wasn’t afraid that I wouldn’t reach my potential. The fear of failure is a big deal and we all feel it at some point, but I’d never gotten to the bottom of it. As I wrote in my journal though, I redefined what I considered “failure”, and I realized that what I really feared was facing the possibility that I didn’t have that potential after all. I thought, “Maybe I’m not who I think I am. Maybe I don’t have the message and gifts I think I do. Maybe the world doesn’t really need my work at all.”
Not going for it, not putting my work out there and letting myself be seen, I’m safe. Hiding in my little cocoon, I can comfort myself with the idea of my unlimited potential and purpose and the life I might have created for myself and others. But if I blossom and open up to the world, the world might not want to receive me. Then I might discover that the world didn’t need my work.
That scares the crap out of me. I’d rather deal with having wasted my potential and purpose than face with the possibility that I might not have had potential and purpose in the first place.
As I wrote that in my journal, I knew I’d uprooted the cause of my procrastination and self-sabotage. I felt calm. Then I wrote to myself that it’s still ok it my worst fears come true. Even if it turns out that no one wants my work or message, or that what I make is no good, I can still be happy. I can create for myself, have fun, and be a good wife, mother, and person. I can love myself anyway, even if I never influence a single person or sell another painting. Being a failure doesn’t mean I’d be unlovable.
I stared my fear in the face and embraced it. It’s still down there, deep inside somewhere, but now I can great it when it comes up without letting it squash me.
We all procrastinate and get in our own way sometimes, but there’s always something underneath that wants to be acknowledged. Look inside yourself and see what’s there. You never know what amazing things it might lead to.