Creativity is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to face.
…probably since it’s a perfect foil to perfectionism, an old, old BFF of mine. A creative life means accepting over and over that there is no right answer or perfect solution. Anything I ever come out with will always be a bit short, a bit incomplete, a bit flawed.
I carry the shame of being uncreative, always torn between pleading guilty and faking it. I never had faith in myself, not even when the universe stroked my ego and let me create something I loved. And I had never felt a thrill in surrendering to failure and calling it “creativity.” Not even when I declared it my 2015 resolution. All I ever felt was the fear of being found out and banished: an Impostor.
Still, I’ve challenged myself to that kind of life once again: I am writing for a living. I’m an employed writer for the first time in my life even though I’ve called myself a writer since the sixth grade. And now, this job answers many questions about why I hadn’t taken the writing life more seriously before.
It is so damn uncomfortable.
And scary. And hard.
What was once my greatest pride is now a constant source of anxiety and insecurity.
Writing is all I’ve had to keep me sane, the only thing I was ever truly confident I could do. Now that I have to submit my work for someone else’s approval, it stings to know how much I have to improve on. I thought I was ready for that. I thought I wanted it. But most days I just want to be good enough.
In better news: I’m trying. My god, am I trying.
Chasing the fear and the big, bad, hard stuff has been something of a calling for me lately. I say it so often it’s become a mantra for where I have been. Chasing the fear, chasing the fear, chasing the fear. More than just greeting it at my doorway, I feel like pursuing it through hills, rivers and ravines, knowing it’s going to take me some place incredible. I feel like it’s important that I do it.
The necessary side-effect of being honest with myself is that I become honest about what I’m feeling, too. A lot of the time it’s sad, or scared, or small. But it’s so important that I know how I’m feeling and I can talk about how I’m feeling instead of locking it up in a box like I’ve managed to do for a while now.
I think of myself as a crybaby, but I actually hadn’t cried in months. It felt like a drought in my eyes when I couldn’t tear up, even in situations where I once would have hidden myself away to cry. It was such an unfamiliar, grey place. So when I finally started crying again (in the middle of a “Thank you for you, please stay with me” speech), it felt a lot like a dam being released. It felt good, and right.
Lately I’ve found myself being able to process my feelings a lot better than I used to in the past. It’s all due in large part to my spirituality adventures these past two months, which I’ll tell you about another time. For now I want to dwell on how good it’s been to be able to accept life with its balance of good and bad.
Bad days haven’t gotten any lighter, and good days haven’t gotten much sweeter. I still have days where I hide under the pillow and reject all thoughts of coming back out, and I still hide in the bathroom to have panic attacks.
But I have a renewed will to go through life, whatever it may give me; to work on it and to come out better. I have proactive, hopeful and restless feelings about life instead of complacent, lethargic moods. It has made all the difference.
I had a therapist last year who told me not to confuse growing pains with weakness, so I’m getting through by telling myself that’s what these are. Growing pains. And in that way I learn to become gentle and loving to myself and my aches, and I learn to trust that I’m on my way to a good place.