“Someday there will be a story you want to tell for no better reason than because it matters to you more than any other…You’ll stop looking over your shoulder to make sure you are keeping everyone happy, and you’ll simply write what’s real and true…That’s when you’ll finally produce the work you’re really capable of.” ~J.D. Salinger to Joyce Maynard
As I have continued to ponder the ways that I self-sabotage by refusing to choose, it is very clear to me that I am doing this in large part to avoid tackling my “big” career dream. At the deepest level, beneath all of my other interests and talents and dreams, I want to be an author. I long to write stories. This is the one thing I long for more than any other.
It is also the one thing, out of all my interests, that I spend the least time trying to bring into being.
Why the contradiction?
Part of it is that I am afraid that I will fail at the thing I most want to do. Somehow it is easier to imagine failing because I didn’t try than because I gave it my all and found out it wasn’t enough. I also worry that I can’t get to the point of that being a self-supporting endeavor in the time frame I need it to, so I want to put more effort into things that might be enough to support me shorter term.
However, I am also discovering that a big part of the fear that drives me to self-sabotage in this area is around the fear of success. It’s been hard enough to learn to live an authentic life despite knowing that not everyone will like who I am. My writing exposes me more thoroughly, more deeply, and to many more people than anything I currently do in my life would ever do. Therefore, if I write what is authentically real and true for me (which is what is necessary to have any degree of success), I will have to deal even more directly with my fear of disappointing, upsetting, or hurting other people who may not like what they read.
It’s interesting for me to realize that I’m doing this. It’s less clear to me what to do about it. I do think I need to spend more time working on pursuing my dream of writing my stories. I clearly need to do more work on letting go of my need to make other people happy (or comfortable) with what I write. But I know enough about the industry to know that making a living as an author is not an easy thing to do. So realistically, I do need to make sure I have other irons in the fire to supplement my writing income (or more likely, completely support me for some time until I can reach a point of having writing income).
So how do I know where I am being prudent and reasonable in planning for a future that would allow me the freedom to pursue my deepest dream? And how do I know when I am just making excuses to avoid pursuing my dream as a means of self-sabotage? It’s not an easy balance to find (at least not for me).
Either way, it is very clear that I still have work to do to get me to a point of being ready and able to openly write my authentic truth. That sounds like as good a place to start working as any.
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a very fragile place, and it takes a good deal of vulnerability to share this personal journey of transformation so openly. Therefore, I need this to be a safe place for exploration and sharing for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight—or the expression of that experience or insight—are NOT welcome here and will be deleted.