Things I've been telling myself lately
A non-exhaustive list of recent whispers and nudges
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A song I’m loving:
Things I’ve been telling myself lately
(Maybe you need to tell yourself one or some of these, too —)
Comparing the benefits versus the consequences is extremely helpful when making choices you’re ambivalent about. There are positive and negative consequences to most of the choices we make. Waking up at 5:00am; logging onto social media; going for the bike ride; saying yes or saying no; what are the benefits? What are the consequences? And do the benefits outweigh the consequences? If so, it may point you closer toward the most aligned choice. This isn’t a surefire way to solve every challenging choice you’re making, but it simplifies a lot.
You can just start over. In the middle of a shitty day or a shitty draft or a shitty mood, you can just say, “nope — not doing this anymore” and start over. Go a different direction. Make a different move. Start a new trajectory. Forge a new path. Doing something one way, for a day or a lifetime, isn’t a reason to keep doing it that way if you notice it’s not working. You can just start over. You can just choose to stop doing the thing and practice something else. Over and over again. It isn’t easy but it is quite simple.
Your worth is not tied to how interesting you are. It isn’t tied to how many wild stories you have, or how much cooler you used to dress, or whether or not you’ve eaten at that one restaurant everyone eats at, or how many epic adventures you’ve taken recently. It just isn’t. It might feel like it sometimes because the virtual world we live in likes to make everyone’s lives look way more ecstatic and dreamy than they actually are, but I promise your sort-of-small, often-ordinary life is enough. And if you ever want more, then go after more.
The potentiality of it not working out isn’t a reason to not try. Not trying only leads to one outcome: the one you don’t want, which is the thing not happening at all. Trying and failing leads to having more knowledge and information on what works and doesn’t work. Trying and succeeding is what has happened way more than you give yourself credit for, and is an option here, too. So, try. Try. Try. Fail. Fail. Fail. Succeed. Succeed. Succeed. Repeat.
Go to the bakery and get the pastry when you want the pastry. Get in the car and go for the drive when you want to go for a drive. Sometimes, desire is enough of a reason. Sometimes, wanting is enough of a reason. Let yourself desire. Let yourself want. And let your desires and wants be satiated.
You don’t need to explain to people why you don’t drink alcohol. Or why you do or don’t do anything, really. Know what is and isn’t anyone else’s business.
It’s okay to have a messier house for the benefit of more presence with your daughter. It’s okay to have a messier house for the benefit of more writing time. It’s okay to have a messier house for the benefit of rest. It’s okay to have a messier house for the benefit of going for an after-dinner walk. It’s okay to have a messier house for the benefit of lots of things. You won’t regret not spending more time cleaning your house. You might regret neglecting what actually matters to you.
I know you sometimes feel like you’re always on the outside of the clique, never really part of the crowd, always peering in from some quiet corner, just hoping you fit in somewhere… and, feelings aren’t always a representation of reality. You aren’t a loner or a loser. You fit. You belong. You’re right here.
Notice where expectations, whether yours or others, are keeping you somewhere that no longer fits. Notice where expectations are creating stagnancy. Notice where expectations are limiting possibility. Notice where expectations are reducing instead of expanding. And notice how expectations can shift.
For the 4859th time… you can’t write, or do, or be, anything everyone will like or resonate with. Stop trying to. Stop being afraid of letting people down. Stop trying to make sure no one thinks negatively about you or what you do. Stop trying to control other people’s experiences of you and your work, and just do your work. Also, thank yourself for continuing to do your work even when this reminder is needed often. Thank yourself for not letting these fears keep you from the work you are called to do.
The relief that comes from no longer constantly trying to optimize and upgrade yourself and your life will far outweigh the so-called relief you’re supposed to feel but never actually do when in the process of constantly trying to optimize and upgrade yourself and your life.
It’s not childish or naive to be enthusiastic about things, to be excited about things, to be silly, to be goofy, to be delighted by nothing, to high-pitch scream when you drive past a field of mini horses, to cry when you see an older couple holding hands in the bookshop, to find joy in the ordinary beauty of everyday life. It’s a gift. Harness it more than you try to hide it.
Sometimes, you want to quit because continuing is vulnerable, is uncertain, is wobbly — and all of that is uncomfortable. Other times, you want to quit because quitting is actually the most aligned, kind choice to make. Learning to discern between the two is how you trust yourself.
You’re not fucked up for struggling with social media, for not knowing where it fits in your life anymore, for wanting to write (which requires a platform) but also not wanting to be a public person, for wanting to disappear from it completely while also not wanting to burn down what might simply need tending in new ways, for feeling frustrated by all that has changed there while also feeling relieved at the lessening of the grip it has on you or your work. All of this makes so much sense. All of these are things many others are feeling, too.
People are often not thinking what you think they’re thinking.
Being with the unknown is a lifelong endeavor — not one you can escape by the illusion of control, or by over-efforting, or by trying to predict how it will all go. It’s much more nurturing to keep learning how to be with the unknown than it is to try and hack your way out of it (which will never happen).
The people who think you’re “too much” for promoting your work, for celebrating your work, for sharing about your work… are never going to be people who support your work anyway. Making yourself smaller for their acceptance will never actually do what you’re hoping it does. Promote. Celebrate. Share.
Being angry about things that are angering isn’t a sign you aren’t well or aren’t healed or aren’t trying hard enough; it’s a sign you’re willing to pay attention and let reality impact you, which is how empathy exists — how compassion exists — and how knowing the right actions to take next exist. Let yourself be moved by what is wrong. Let yourself feel the grief of living in a world that isn’t set up for everyone to thrive. Let yourself honor what is true, what is real.
A lot of the time, there is no one gatekeeping the thing you’re wanting; there is only you, afraid to go for it, afraid to claim it, afraid to move toward it. Stop acting like you have no say in the choices you make, and start choosing to move toward the things you say you want. No one is in your way more than you are.
Keeping people at a distance might keep you safe in some ways, but the risk involved in letting yourself be truly, fully seen is worth dropping the protection you assume you need. Letting your belonging exist is worth dropping the illusion of safety by way of hiding. Letting yourself be held is worth the possibility of judgment, criticism, or rejection. Letting yourself be witnessed is worth releasing the walls you’ve built. Letting yourself learn new ways of finding safety without needing to keep everyone at arms length is worth the risk in doing so.
May you notice what’s been turning in your mind and do something about it.
May you let yourself be honest about the things you are circling around.
May you always allow yourself to be a beginner when needed.
May you listen to what has been rumbling inside you and turn toward it.
May you insist on your own willingness to tend to what you find.
△ This quote: “We have to consciously study how to be tender with each other until it becomes a habit.” ― Audre Lorde
△ This reminder from the host of Morning Writing Club, which I’ve been loving:
△ This little corner of my office, starting to feel very me.
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