I was listening to a past episode from one of my favorite podcasts called “The Rob Cast” today. He was interviewing my favorite writer, Elizabeth Gilbert, and their discussion was pretty interesting. It was on the topic of creativity mainly, due to her new book, Big Magic, coming out in September. She had some great points on the topic that resonated with me and how I’ve been feeling lately, which I wanted to share with you all today.
I know I haven’t written in some time, and partly due to the fact that lately, I haven’t been feeling all that creative. The juices have not been flowing and mostly I think it’s because I’ve been stuck in a somewhat emotional slump that is bringing upon this total lack of motivation to do anything with my life at this point. I know it sounds kind of bad. I don’t really want to feel this way, and yet the more I try to resist it and tell myself I’m NOT feeling this way, the more I actually do feel it. It’s kind of annoying. So I figured the only way to really force myself out of the slump is to just move forward in any way I possibly can, even if it is just a tiny little step of progress. I’ve also noticed that because I have been placing that added pressure on myself to be motivated, it really hasn’t done any good towards me making any progress lately, no matter how small. So instead, I’m not going to pressure myself, but rather just give myself permission to be right now. It’ll pass. Just like any phase does.
I believe as humans we go through these waxes and wanes of emotions and one minute we will ok while the next minute we won’t and that’s perfectly ok. We just have to learn to accept it as normal, rather than resist it and believe that we have to do everything we can to “get out of it”, which will ultimately cause us to just get further “into it.” This is kind of what Elizabeth was trying to explain in regards to creativity. On some level, as artists we expect ourselves to constantly be creating magnificent work, and we place this pressure upon ourselves to do our craft and to make it work for us, when in reality, we are working for our craft. We should exercise creativity not as a chore or obligation but rather as an expression. Something that is not pressured, but rather we can find freedom in. Yet, so many people place this expectation on their creativity, whether it be that it must be perfect, or it must be good, or it must be liked, or that it must make them lots of money, and then ultimately because of these pressure, our creativity dies.
This got me thinking in relation to how we are as human beings. We do the same thing to ourselves that we do to our art. We place pressure on ourselves and expectations to be perfect or good enough or likable. And then we try and try and try to prove our worth to anyone who will listen, and yet, we don’t realize that it is not the world or other people who give us that validation, but rather ourselves. We must be who we are purely for ourselves, not for other people.
I know personally I often get caught up in seeking out validation of my identity from other people. I’m not sure why we do it, but I believe deep down it is human nature at the very core to want to find some level of acceptance from other people. But I’ve always had an issue with it from as long as I can remember, and it’s been difficult because lately I am trying to retrain the way my brain automatically thinks, and instead find my own value within myself. This is a very difficult thing to do, especially when you are so used to searching for your value from other people for so long. You are used to molding yourself to other people’s liking or transforming into someone that might be more likable. For as long as I can remember, I’ve acted like a chameleon, constantly changing personalities according to whatever background I was in. It is only more recently that I am discovering who I really am at my core being. And I still haven’t quite figured it all out.
It is scary in a way, because you have to truly face yourself in it’s raw form. You don’t know what’s in there because you’ve been hiding it and masking it for so long with other disguises that when you finally discover your true self, it’s almost quite shocking and you don’t know how to react. And then comes the second phase of actually accepting this true self. Understanding that it is probably very flawed and there are a lot of things that you will not like about it, but you must accept it anyway because that’s who you are. Sure, there are things you can tweak and improve upon but deep down there is always going to be some level of acceptance that you must make.
I think I am in between stages at this time – still discovering who I am, yet trying to accept it at the same time. I am resisting at times because I so badly want that approval from others. I want them to tell me I’m ok. That I am beautiful. That I am worthy. That I am enough. But then I realize, even if they told me that a hundred times, I would ask again, because I don’t believe it myself. It is only when we begin to believe these things about ourselves and validate ourselves, when we can finally begin to feel whole. So I am working on that. And it’s a process. I’m not going to lie and say I’m doing perfectly ok and I’m totally happy. I still struggle with so much brokenness, but that’s ok, because that’s what journey’s are about. They are called a journey for a reason, because we are continually making progress and moving forward, otherwise they would be called a destination, because we would be already a finished product. But I don’t think we are ever truly finished or that we will ever arrive at a destination. I think as long as we are alive we are on some sort of personal journey.
In the podcast, Elizabeth also spoke about her own personal journey and her memoir, Eat, Pray, Love, which pretty much documented what she went through. She spoke about how sharing her story helped changed so many people’s lives and she feels that it is because they felt like they finally found permission to be who they were. So many people feel that they do not have this permission, that we must earn it or someone must grant it to us. In reality, we do have permission to be ourselves. We have permission to seek out our passions or run into the wild. We have permission to grow and learn and indulge in our creativity. We have permission to be flawed, to be imperfect. We have permission to act silly or view the world in child-like wonder. It is OK! I am learning not to allow my fear of what others may think to hold me back from who I really am. For the longest time, I hid from who I really was because I wanted to be what everyone wanted. But I can’t afford to do that anymore. The only person who robbed of their joy is you if you act that way.
You have permission to be. Grant yourself that approval. Don’t wait on anyone to tell you that you are good enough or smart enough or rich enough or whatever enough to be able to do something that you want. Just be, at whatever stage you may be at in your life… just be.
The Self Love Challenge: Give yourself permission to be.
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