Does anyone else have the problem of wanting desperately to follow their dreams but being totally afraid and stuck? And having to overcome this hurdle of resistance every single day?
(I’m guessing that the answer is yes, considering the number of books that have been written about artists being blocked and overcoming their fears. What’s up with that?)
So, I’m totally one of them. Most of the time, I feel like a mess. And I’m really afraid that people will find out exactly how deep the mess goes. I feel completely incompetent in some areas of my life. No matter how hard I try to fix them, they just always suck. I’m not improving. I’m just getting more and more frustrated.
Anyway, I read this book last week that says, “Stop it.”
He says that I should just ignore my areas of incompetence completely and find someone else to do those things for me. Because they’re holding me back from doing what I was made to do.
And you know what? He’s right.
I am a stereotypical artist. Really. What’s your artist stereotype? Is it disorganized, weird, and slightly loopy and not quite like “normal” people? Head in the clouds, that kind of thing? Well, that’s me. And I’ve been trying to hide it for years. I’ve let it out in little socially acceptable glimpses, but I’m afraid.
I’m afraid to fully embrace my gift because then… well, what if everything falls apart? What if my weaknesses get bigger instead of smaller? And what if everybody sees?
But living outside of my talent has given me years of trying so hard to cover up and improve my inadequacies that I’ve let my gift stagnate. And I’m still not any better at the other things.
I’ve ignored my talent. My one thing. The thing that makes me shine. The thing that I was very likely created to do. My gift to the world. (And when I say that, I don’t mean I’m awesome and everyone should love me. I mean that God has given each of us a job to do, a talent, a function to perform in society, and I’m slacking. Because I’ve been afraid.)
I’m afraid that even when I paint and once I’ve put in my 10,000 hours, I still won’t achieve mastery.
I’m afraid that embracing my painting self will send my home into further chaos.
I’m afraid that my kids will grow up and have a long list of all the things they’re traumatized by because mommy was an artist and the kitchen table was always covered in dirty dishes and works in progress. And teaching them to clean is not going so well. Their future spouses might just hate me.
I’m afraid that people will see our version of homeschooling and think it’s not enough.
I’m afraid that well-meaning people will keep trying to “fix” me and give me advice on how I can become just like them: neat, with cleaning children and an organized home. It’s not that I don’t want those things, but come on. I’ve been reading all the books and trying for the last eleven years. My brain just won’t bend that way. Will you love me anyway?
I’m afraid that people won’t love me anyway.
I’m going to tell you something now that I’m really embarrassed about because it sounds so stupid.
I was one of those talented kids that everybody hates in school. I got good grades, I’m smart, I have an excellent memory, and, to add insult to injury, I’m good at art. I felt like the kids in my class resented me. I got asked by innocent 8-year-olds, with disgust in their voices, “Why are you so good at everything?”
I get it. I totally do. It was annoying. But now, I’m an adult, and I’ve spent my whole life hiding my really great parts and emphasizing my struggles. I’ve spent the last years trying to get better at housekeeping and feeling really bad because it’s not my thing instead of focusing on what I’m good at and pursuing it with my whole heart. I feel like maybe I’ve spent the last 27 years apologizing that I was born as myself.
When I get to heaven, God’s not going to ask me, “Why weren’t you Moses?”
He’s going to say, “Why weren’t you Amanda?”
And darn it, I want to try. I want to be myself.
I want to start loving my whole self — imperfections and strengths — instead of trying to be something that I’m just. not.
I want to try living a different life. A life full of art. A life with a different paradigm, one that leaves behind a false ideal of motherhood constructed by somebody else. Why do we feel like we need to be just like our friends, our neighbours, our grandmas? I want to test living a life that accepts everyone around me for who they are, including myself.
I keep telling my friends how lovely they are just as they are, but I can tell they don’t believe me. And when they tell me how lovely I am, I don’t believe them, either.
I want to live in my loveliness and accept it. And maybe then, when I tell my people about their amazingness, maybe then they’ll believe me. Maybe we can all start believing together.
What is your loveliness, your thing, your talent? What is your gift to the world?
Will you be brave with me and decide to run after it with all your heart?
This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE! I’ve become a huge fan of Glennon’s over the last couple months. She is encouraging and messy and real, and I love her. I can’t wait to read the book!