Writing has always been my thing, but somewhere along the way, I got scared.
The creative, therapeutic process that had always brought me joy, energy, and stability, suddenly became anxiety-ridden, constricted, and tense.
I’m thinking back to a couple of years ago, late 2016 into early 2017. I was getting ready to move to New York City and was hellbent on not just making it there, but making it as a writer. And not just any kind of writer, but a “real” writer.
I thought that being a “real” writer meant not only writing about things that interested me and that I felt were important, but getting published and paid for it, too. Of course, I wasn’t conscious of this at the time. I would never had admitted that sentiment. All I knew was that I felt incredibly frustrated, stifled, and fed up with myself. I wanted to make a change, so I moved to New York.
Looking back, it was a confusing situation to be in—an entanglement of my own making. I’d poured all my energy into building a freelance business with the goal of having more time and freedom to pursue what I actually wanted to pursue, but instead of doing that, I was completely stuck. I’d tried out some different side hustles—starting a handmade jewelry business, playing lots of gigs as a musician—but somehow always came back to the decision that I needed to focus more energy on my freelance business because it was the thing that was bringing in revenue.
This was definitely a pattern. I would let go of my side hustle and in turn, feel really inspired about my freelance work. I would revamp my website and schedule meetings with potential clients, but soon after, that shiny feeling would wear off and I was back to what felt like square one. While my freelance work was financially rewarding, it wasn’t fulfilling me in a purpose-driven way, no matter how hard I tried.
At this particular moment in my life, I had convinced myself that “what I actually wanted to pursue” was writing fiction. Which, honestly, makes sense. I love fiction. Reading it, thinking about it, and theoretically, writing it. The problem, though, was that I was putting so much pressure on myself to hurry up and find my life’s calling (no big deal, right?) that I didn’t leave any room to think about how I actually felt. I was so busy worrying about whether or not I was moving forward in becoming a “real” writer, that I left no space for any other possibilities, potential opportunities, or pings from the universe to come and find me.
I was trying to control it all, big time, and in the process, pushed myself to the point of mental and physical exhaustion. I was not in a good place. But instead of slowing down and tuning in, I just kept pushing and pushing and pushing and somewhere along the way, I stopped writing. The blog posts and newsletters I used to love creating all of a sudden felt stupid. I told myself they were a waste of time. I told myself they were pointless.
If I look back and really dig deep, I can see that what I was telling myself was actually full of much more hurt. I subconsciously told myself that no one cared what I had to say. That my words didn’t matter. That I wasn’t a “real” writer and because of that, I wasn’t enough.
To try and prove to myself I was on the right path, I shifted my energy into writing fiction and essays—pieces I mostly kept to myself. I was journaling a lot (thank god), but it wasn’t enough to counterbalance the amount of pressure I was putting on myself to produce something perfect, to write something that would make me a “real” writer.
It didn’t work. Of course it didn’t. Instead of feeling like I was on the right path, I just became even more frustrated, blocked, and distant from myself. I had constructed my entire identity around this one thing only to later (now!) realize that as a result, I pushed away my true self in the process.
One of the biggest breakthroughs I’ve had between then and now is that I am not what I produce. I am not the words I write, the yoga classes I teach, the photos I post on Instagram, or the copy I create for a client.
Those things come from me, they’re incredibly important to me, but they’re not me. The real me is something much, much deeper. Something that can’t be altered or changed, no matter how many times I change my mind about what to pursue next.
I believe this to be the root of what’s held me back from writing, blogging, and ultimately sharing my stories over the past few years. I’ve certainly wanted to—fear just got in the way. In order to move forward, I had to take some pressure off and do my best to recognize my authentic self worth (totally a work in progress … thank you, therapy). I had to stop measuring my value by my output. And most of all, I had to find some compassion for myself.
I’m thinking of my blog as a blank slate to create. It’s a fresh start in writing and sharing the things I want to explore, not the things I think I should be exploring.
This blog is not me, but it is for me. And it’s for you, too.
I want it to be a space where both of us can come and remember that no matter what we’re going through, we’re never alone. I want it to be a space where our true, authentic, innermost selves are allowed to come out of hiding and stay for awhile.
That’s what I’m aiming for, working on, and reminding myself everyday along the way. I hope you’ll join me for the journey.
Thanks for reading!