“If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), "Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?" chances are you are. The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.” --Steven Pressfield
If you haven't read Steven Pressfield's book The War of Art, you should. Actually, you should just listen to it. It's only like 3 hours long. Take a long drive, plug it in, look past the golf analogies, and take it from a pro: you are not alone.
This week has been weird. Back in school, trying to focus, trying to make all of the things I think about connect and make sense in terms of research and work and some kind of cohesive project. All I really know is that my work (at the moment) is about wanting to help. Helping myself, helping other people, helping in general. I have been forced to realize that even though I want to help--and my intentions are good--sometimes people don't want or need my help. Sometimes people have their own ways of getting through things that have nothing to do with me and that's totally okay. Sometimes people have a completely different psycho-spiritual philosophy, and that's totally okay. And sometimes people just want to wallow in self-pity or indecision or self-loathing. Sometimes people are comfortable hanging out in the unknown. Personally, these are very uncomfortable places for me to linger, and so I when I witness people doing those things I try, without judgment, to help them through it. But the kicker is that a huge part of self-awareness is becoming aware of other people's comfort zones and processes, being respectful of them, honoring them and giving them space. I think my job right now is to try it for myself. To dip my toe into those unknown waters, to wallow in the muck of my own stuff, without judgment.
This week has also been weird because the things I was so excited and confident and clear about just one short week ago have suddenly dimmed. Self doubt has crept in. Am I really an artist? Am I really a writer? I guess that Steven Pressfield has my back on this one, but it's still so hard to know for sure that I'm not a huge fraud: that even though I don't entirely know what I'm doing and I fear that I'm on the wrong path and that my ideas are stupid and not worth pursuing, that I should for some reason keep going. Wow, just saying that out loud made me feel a little better. Sometimes it's important to just say the thing you are afraid of and then have a conversation with it:
Feeble me: I'm afraid that I'm doing the wrong thing.
Infinitely wise me: There are no mistakes, only opportunities to grow.
Feeble me: Okay, but what I'm really afraid of is that not having all the answers means that I'm stupid.
Infinitely wise me: Knowing that you don't have all the answers makes you curious, not stupid.
Feeble me: Okay but what I'm really afraid of is that if I linger in the unknown I won't make it out, and I have more important shit to do.
Infinitely wise me: You'll make it out. And maybe you'll make it out with an idea, or just a sliver of an idea--just like David Lynch said you would. Use what you have learned through meditation to allow yourself to let go of these obnoxious thoughts, to sink into the unknown, to wallow in the deep.
Feeble me: You're a fucking weirdo.
Infinitely wise me: No, you are.
Feeble me: But I'm scared to wallow.
Infinitely wise me: It's okay to be scared. Fear is just excitement without the breath.
Feeble me: So I'm excited to wallow?
Infinitely wise me: Mmhmm.
To wallow means to indulge in an unrestrained way in something that creates a pleasurable sensation. It's weird that we (I?) most often use that word to describe an indulgence in something that feels painful like self-doubt or heartbreak. (Maybe those things actually do feel pleasurable on some level...? That's for another day...) But wallowing really means to allow oneself to feel good. To scratch the itch. To roll in the mud. Whatever it is. What if I were to wallow in things that created actual pleasurable sensations? Like JOY or EUPHORIA or CONTENTMENT? What if I could just remember that I am allowed to do that, whenever I want?
Easier said than done. Here's a reminder:
In other news, I sent out a survey a couple of days ago and I am totally wallowing in your responses. THANK YOU for responding! If you haven't responded, and can spare fewer than 5 minutes of thoughtfulness, I would love your feedback. Click here to take the survey! It's about feelings! And shopping!
And in even other other news, I want to hear from you. I realized the other day that I do my best work when I know exactly who and what I am responding to. So I wonder if you have a question I could try to answer. So if you have a question, I would love to take a stab--as long as you're cool with me possibly publishing it on this blog that 3 people read. Pretty low stakes...