Start Somewhere…and That Somewhere is Where You Are

The truth is that I take myself far to seriously. And as a result, I closely critique all of my creative endeavors so hard that I rarely finish what I start. Even though my rational mind knows that in order to reach a destination one must start at the start line, I’ve somehow convinced myself that I already have to be perfect at my quest before even starting. How ridiculous is that? What if every baby had that same mentality? The first time the baby fell on her bottom in an effort to walk would be her last attempt. I don’t really know why I am so hard on myself. And so harshly critical of myself.

I’m a writer. I’ve been aware of this since my early teen years. For me, it’s been a spiritual calling, so to speak. It’s been a huge part of my heart’s desire for nearly 30 years now. In high school, my goal was to be a published author by the time I was 23. I finally did realize that dream (later than planned) about 5 years ago, but still I struggle with my writing. I get easily discouraged, and I know exactly why. It’s because I do what I tell my students not to do: I criticize my writing before it even makes it to the page. Or I erase it before it even has a chance to become anything. Today, I am working on being more lenient with myself. Hopefully, one day I will start having fun again because writing under so much negative pressure is no fun at all.

Today, I decided to entitle this post: Start Somewhere. I chose that title because it speaks to something that I know from life experience. That if you never start, you will never make progress. It’s impossible. When it comes to our dreams in life, starting is often the hardest step for people. And I think it is because they are afraid of making a mistake. And they believe the lie that successful people started their journey perfect at their quest. We are so enamored by the professional performing artists, successful business owners, and unbeatable athlete that we forget that they probably sucked at their skill in the beginning too. We also forget to acknowledge that a lot – A LOT – of work and time and sacrifice and dedication went into getting them to such an excellent skill level. Most times, we don’t get to see what happened behind the scenes to get them to that esteemed position. And we mistakenly convince ourselves that we – in our beginning stage, our starting phase – should be as polished and perfected as they are today. Such a mindset immediately sets us up for failure, so we eliminate ourselves the grief of even trying since we are not perfect enough. Don’t live your life is such a defeated way. Instead, stop waiting to magically become perfect and just start where you are, as you are. Because once you start, you then have an opportunity to grow into the outstanding performer that you desire to be. Don’t be afraid to start. Remember the famous saying, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Don’t be afraid to take that step.

And once you start, allow yourself to stay present for the the journey that will unfold before you. Be present for each step of the way. Your life is happening now. Don’t waste your time bemoaning your journey because that is the biggest part of your life. And as wonderful as achieving your goal is and will be, it’s only a small fraction of your whole life experience. So, embrace the journey so that you can enjoy your life. In other words, don’t wait to be happy until you achieve your goal. Instead, do your best to make each step of the journey, especially your beginning stages, just as joyful and meaningful as the final stage when you finally do achieve your dream.

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Can You See Me?

Can You see me? Yes, You. I am talking to You, the Reader of this blog that I started several months ago with the intention of writing anonymously, with no regard for my audience. I was writing for the sake of writing, not for an audience. I convinced myself that such an approach would lead to a more authentic voice – my true, unedited self. I’d be a liberated writer, unshackled from the oppression of outside opinion. That was my effort at being a selfless, authentic artist.

I wrote about all kinds of stuffy. My family. My work life. My health. The writing was raw. It was honest. It was painful. My heart bled on the page.

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I know what you’re thinking, who the heck would want to read that? Not me, that’s for sure. It was way too heavy. (If I continue writing, and you continue reading, you’ll learn that I avoid heavy at all costs most of the time.) I was reaching beyond my comfort zone. I was coming into my voice.

Contrary to my stated intention, after each post, I’d look at my statistics to see how many viewers came across my page and every time I’d feel the pangs of disappointment at seeing that no one – not one single person – viewed my anonymous blog. This went on for weeks. Eventually, I figured there were so many blogs out there that mine was impossible to find, especially since I had no idea of how to come up with an appropriate tag. No one, literally no one, could see my blog. It was lost in the abyss.

So, I gave up. I stopped writing. And eventually I forgot I even had a blog until the ache returned.

So, I returned yesterday and did what I always do when I am ashamed of my seeming lack of progress – I pressed delete (and “Yes, I’m sure I want to delete”) five consecutive times for my five insignificant posts.

I’d begin with a clean slate. Or not write at all.

I hit delete without even re-reading what I had written. All I saw was the word count. In all, I must’ve written close to 7K words.

Delete delete delete delete delete.

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And there I was, with a clean page. My tabula rasa. A part of me felt vindicated. I wanted to start again, only I didn’t feel like I had anything to say. Instead of writing, I visited to one of my favorite blogs (https://pamgrout.com). The author is a super cool chick. Always inspiring. Always providing her readers with a positive way to see the world every day. When I got to her page, I noticed a little notification in the upper right corner of the page. A WordPress notification for me? My first WordPress notification. So, I clicked on it. There were two old messages. One was congratulating me for completing five posts. (Had I written 5 blog posts? Wow!) The other notification indicated that someone “liked” a post I had written a few months back. I screamed.  I nearly cried. Someone had seen me. And someone had taken the time to actually “like” an entry I wrote. An entry that was gone – permanently.

Apparently, my statistics weren’t working properly.

That whole experience helped me recognize something I was not willing to acknowledge, that I do want an audience. I do want to be seen. And I want to be liked.

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Can you see me?