Following your dreams can be scary.
Being creative can be hard work.
Working by yourself can be lonely.
These 3 things are the essence of my thoughts lately. My dream is to become a full time author, but this post applies to far more than just that dream. It’s about creative pursuits; about trying to do something that those closest to you don’t really understand (and some might expect you to fail); about struggling with fear that the dream might not come true because you’re not good enough.
I struggle with the fear of being a bad creator. Most people who know me personally would be surprised at the third point that I put above – ‘Working by yourself can be lonely.’ You see, I LOVE working by myself. I concentrate better when I’m by myself. I’ve always searched out ways in my working life to be as ‘alone’ as possible when I’m trying to get things done. That’s not to say that I don’t like being around people or don’t enjoy being part of a team, because I do, it’s just that when I’m trying to concentrate I like quiet, uninterrupted time. The problem with working alone though is that you don’t have anyone to compare yourself too and that can be lonely.
What?! you ask. In this world with social media surely we have problems with comparing ourselves too much! Well, yes I do agree but that is part of my problem. People choose what they show on the internet. People filter the stuff they don’t want to show and that’s where comparison becomes a problem. People show the good stuff, the fun, exciting, how amazing is this stuff. Some people also show the not-as-good stuff – the learning, the stumbling, the problems. Even then though, tit’s filtered. They choose to tell their story (in whatever medium they are using) for a reason. If something happens to them or they feel a certain way but it doesn’t suit their purpose to show it, it doesn’t get shown.
With all this filtering happening in the online world you can sometimes feel alone with your struggles. When you work in a close space with someone you see their struggles along with their triumphs. When you work alone you can become fixated on whether you are doing enough. Whether other people are better than you. Whether you should just not bother trying. Whether you are a bad creator.
Yes, we all know you shouldn’t compare yourself to others BUT ultimately you will be compared to others if you are producing/making/creating something that others will see. It will happen and it can be scary.
What can also be scary is if you are seen to fail at what you have set out to achieve. If you have told others your dream and it doesn’t happen. Others don’t see the blood, sweat and tears that goes into the trying, they just see that their expectations of what your dream meant to them wasn’t fulfilled.
All of this can result in a revolving door of fear. Fear that it won’t be good enough. Fear that you won’t achieve ‘it’. Fear of being judged. Fear of letting yourself down. Oh, I could go on but you know what I’m talking about.
I’m trying to become a published author. I have a set amount of time that I have taken out of full time work to be able to get a bulk amount of work done. You can of course write books with a full time job on the side (most books you read come from just that scenario) but having the freedom of time can speed things up a bit. I took the time as my gift to the dream to give it a real push forwards but now I feel guilty for not using the time ‘properly’.
I find it very easy to procrastinate. To use social media, to read about writing (instead of actually writing), to watch something that’s caught my eye on youtube to ‘give my brain a break’, to fall down the rabbit hole that pinterest can be, to read just one more page of a book instead of getting back to work.
This may be a strange confession from someone who is trying to become a published author but here it is:
I do not personally find writing easy.
Yes, there are days where things do flow easily and you feel like you are walking on clouds, but other days – most days – it’s like trying to get blood out of a stone. It’s so much easier to avoid it then to work at it. I do push through it to do the work, but the fear I have is that others don’t have this struggle. That I am inherently a bad creator because having been given the luxury of time which so many people yearn for, that I have the urge to squander it. That every day I fight with the urge to take the easier path.
I know in my head that others struggle but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. That’s when I take myself somewhere – for a walk; outside to the swing in my garden; to the kettle in my kitchen for a cuppa; or sometimes it’s just closing my eyes and taking myself out of the feelings. To remind myself that yes it’s hard, yes it’s scary, but I still want to do it. It doesn’t matter what the journey is, if I keep wanting it then I need to keep trying.
If you also struggle with feelings like this then I want you to know that you’re not alone. We can struggle but we can still achieve the things we want and be the best that we can be in that moment. Don’t beat yourself up, and I’ll try and follow that advice too.