I’ve so got this, I thought one afternoon, driving down the freeway. I was thinking about a new section of the book I was writing. I felt so happy, so lucky. I had been trying to figure out how I was going to structure this one part of the book and it had finally come to me. I recorded an audio note on my iPhone as I drove to my writing class. Excitement and passion swelled my chest. I whispered a little prayer of thanks. In that moment I could visualize all the pieces falling into place, my dreams materializing. Fuzzy figures in the distance, they transformed into sharp focus. God, it was a good feeling. Awesome, in fact.
The next day, good feelings gone, I muddled through a thoroughly critiqued (by my peers) chapter of my book, trying to find the right words. That old familiar feeling resurfaced–fear & self-deprecation. My Inner Negative-Nelly chimed in: Really, you think you can do this? You couldn’t even do this one chapter perfectly. Maybe you aren’t really meant to do this. Maybe you have no idea what you’re doing, or worse, maybe you just don’t even have it in you to produce something good. Maybe you should just give up.
The tendrils of paralysis began to twist and unfurl their way into my motivation. Realizing what I was headed for, I spurted, “Nope! F-that.” I’m not slipping down that spiral again. Screw it, I’m going to muddle through this whatever it takes. Because sometimes, I am awesome. Even if I don’t feel like that right now.
Those who risk doing something they love, something they feel drawn to do, something they feel strongly about, will experience doubt. It’s human nature. It’s normal. And honestly, I think it’s the universe testing your resolve. It’s probably not going to be all smooth sailing for most of us. But that’s precisely what gives the experience intrinsic value.
We’ve all heard the adage: If it was easy, everyone would do it. I’d also like to add: If it was easy, it just wouldn’t be that great. If everyone wrote like Mary Karr, Joan Didion, or F. Scott Fitzgerald, their craft would not be so powerful. If everyone could paint like Picasso or Michelangelo – their art would be considered average. While there’s no doubt these artists are insanely talented, none of them just woke up one day and were perpetually awesome. They tried and failed. Their work “sucked” sometimes, but through that failure they did not give up. They didn’t give up because they knew deep down they had something special to share with the world. You’ve got that thing too — that thing that only you can give to this world.
If you’ve already committed to following your dream, whatever that may be, the question is no longer whether you will continue, but rather, how well you will do this thing. But when you’re drowning in that sea of self-depreciation, flailing and feeling like shit about your efforts/talents, you need some kind of buoy to cling to. Allow me to throw you your buoy (or life-raft): remember a time when you were awesome. As your negative thoughts pull down on you fight back by recalling a time when you felt like you could conquer the world.
Here are some prompts to get you thinking about times when you were awesome. Go through this list. Write down your ideas. Next time you feel like you’re drowning, you can grab on to one of these and begin swimming back to shore.
-Describe a time when you felt most at peace. What had you done to get there?
-Think of the moment when you first had the idea to do this (whatever it is you’re venturing to do)
-Remember a moment you realized that you were going to be OK.
-Recall when you received a compliment that meant a lot to you – what was it? Own it.
-Write down an occasion when you finished something you were proud of.
-Note any goal you’ve achieved (whether it’s losing a pound, telling someone how you felt or anything).
-Recall a fear you faced (& maybe even conquered).
-Savor the memory of a meal that you made especially well.
-Make note of an award you received.
-Stumped? Ask some trusted friends what it is that they like most about you, or one of their favorite memories of you.
and the list goes on…
You get the idea. Build up the cadre of examples of when you were awesome and you’ll beat back the doldrums quicker than ever before.
Hope that helps. Remember: Believe in yourself, even if you’re the only one who does. (If you build it, they will come)
So the next time you’re feeling low, just remember when you were awesome.
If you have other tips, please share below. 🙂 Or if you want to share something about yourself that is just, well, awesome please do!