Let me tell you a story about my sister. She’s about 7 years older than me, and while we were obviously not into the same things growing up, by the time I was out of high-school she was a well-established, real life woman, with kids and a husband and a house and a full adult life. Everything that I wasn’t ready for yet. I used to spend entire days with her, going on adventures, laughing with her kids, watching Twilight. It was great. The very best part of those days was when we would cook together. We would talk and share and laugh and I would generally just soak up the magic of my sister in the kitchen.
I had never witnessed anyone who took on recipes with quite the panache that she did. It didn’t matter if she didn’t have half of the ingredients, had never heard of it before or the recipe was entirely in French. If she thought something sounded good she would find a recipe and make it. Not only make it, she would MacGuyver the heck out of it until the dish was a triumph of culinary genius with exactly the flavor that she wanted and none of the extras. I distinctly remember telling her about something I had eaten and enjoyed and seeing the light shine in her face as she jumped up, went to the computer, and found a recipe. Like I said it could be in French, call for things you can only buy in Provence and have to be cooked over a fire kindled by monks and she would look at me and say “Meh. We’ll figure it out!”
And we would! It might take a few batches, we might try for more than one day. She might have to call someone or find a new tool or feed six failed attempts to the dog, but within the week she would have mastered it and her version would probably have half the calories, twice the nutrients and only take 10 minutes to make. I can still feel the confidence, power and thrill that I felt when over the course of our time together I started to take on her attitude in the kitchen. Every meal became like a little masterpiece, in which I had painted all the flavors together, threw in a few unexpected details and sustained myself, all the while believing that there was no mistake big enough that I couldn’t correct and it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. If only that thought could have been instantly transferred into other areas of my life.
For years, possibly decades, I defined myself as someone who didn’t do things that I might not be good at. There were many things that I was interested in trying but I didn’t because I couldn’t guarantee that I would succeed. I’ve heard people talk about this as something that we all went through as teenagers, afraid of failing in front of our peers, acting like new things are “lame” so that we don’t have to face the fact that we aren’t brave enough to try it, mocking other people’s hobbies and creative pursuits to draw attention away from the fact that we aren’t confident enough in ourselves to create anything ourselves.
The sad thing is that this didn’t stop when I “grew up”. I didn’t graduate high school and instantly tap into all of my creative juices and make symphonies and masterpieces to share with confidence. I graduated from high school and sold my bass guitar because I wasn’t already amazing at it and was kind of afraid that people made fun of me for it.
I know that I am not alone. Of the people in my life, maybe 25% are regularly creating something from their own minds and inspired souls. Part of me really hopes that this number is so low is because you’re all making things and just not sharing them with me, but I doubt it. Unfortunately, it’s much more likely that the other 80% of us are so far removed from our own creativity that we aren’t sure we even have it any more. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone say “Oh I’m just not creative”, “Wow, that’s amazing. I could never do that”, “These are so great, I wish I could make something like this”.
Somewhere between finger-painting and college essays most of us lost belief in ourselves. Maybe it was the first time an art teacher gave you poor marks on a piece, the 100th time someone told you that you really aren’t a singer, or the millionth time you told yourself that if you made that/wrote that/painted that/recorded that people would shun you, but one way or another that little creative flame was covered up and crowded out by more practical thoughts and pursuits.
If you feel this way about yourself, I’m here to teach you a new story. I’m here to be the big sister saying “Meh. We’ll figure it out!”. All those negative statements you think and make about yourself and your abilities are keeping you in a place of lack. The fear of other people’s ideas and thoughts about you is keeping you from achieving your full potential as a human. I lived there. This was my life. It was kind of dark and sad and unfulfilling. There was a lot of self-doubt, some significant self-hate and judging and a whole heaping amount of trying things and giving up on them.
Like I said, I’m here to teach you a new story, like the great big sister, so here goes.
You have something brilliant to contribute to the world.
Something big and life-changing and outstanding. I keep telling you this because it is absolutely true. I just wanted to say it again in case you were starting to doubt ❤ If you forgot you can read about it here.
When there’s a creative vision in your mind that keeps banging around in there and thinking about it makes you happy, do something to make it happen.
Even if that step is really, super tiny. Go to the craft store. Find the recipe. Buy the program. Heck, look at the prices for the program. Do something to take action on your happy little vision. If this idea has been in your mind for a while, taking a step toward realizing it should make your soul sing. Then take another step.
It will not be perfect the first time, plan on it. No one else’s was, yours won’t be. That’s cool.
You have to get this part, because it can be a huge challenge. Nothing can smash your dreams as easily as your own expectations. Don’t create anything with the expectation of immediate perfection. Or even immediate pretty good… This is when you have to take a deep breath, remind yourself of how cool it is that you are trying something new, and enjoy the process. The masterpiece inside of you is worth a few tries.
This is the outward expression of your inner soul, no one else’s opinion matters.
Another easy one, of course;) I spent way too long trying to get this into my heart. Only when I got an absolutely HUGE vision of what I wanted to create, and felt how absolutely AMAZING it would feel to create it did I finally find the power and motivation to embrace this lesson. If you want to life a happy, healthy, fulfilled life you 100% cannot care about what random other people think about you, your decisions, or what you create. Yes, you should have people whose opinion you value and respect. You probably shouldn’t decide that you don’t care what the police think or the law says. I am totally not advocating that you decide that your creator’s expectations don’t matter. That said, there are thousands and millions of people whose opinion of you should have less than no bearing on your life and decisions. For years I lived in fear of what others would think of me if I did this or that. I would consciously decide not to do or say certain things because someone, anyone, might think something about me. Not do something to me or say something mean, but think something about me. You know what. We’re gonna have to come back to this because I want to speak so much to this and there just isn’t room, but please hear me. You must find the power of your vision, the feeling of fulfillment that you will have when you create that vision, and use that to power you over the fear of others.
When you make that first painting, when you frame your first poem, when you win a blue ribbon, when you play Carnegie Hall, celebrate.
Seriously. Give yourself a pat on the back. Do a happy dance. Smile and sing and laugh and squeal. Be so freaking proud of yourself for making something. It you have never baked anything in your life and you make a successful batch of those choc chip cookies you take out of a package and place on a tray, you better celebrate. If you’re a new painter and you make a long, fat line with a slightly thinner line and a water splotch, hang that thing up on the fridge. The first time you write a line of code that successfully changes the color of a line of text or makes something move or in any other way slightly does what you intended, buy everyone a round. This is how you celebrate small victories. First 100 blog readers I’m buying myself a jet…
No matter what. If you hate what you’re doing, get a new perspective and try something different. Make something creative every week. Try new things. Get in nature, get inspired, and see what thoughts come to mind. Dive into your own mind and soul and see what’s in there, waiting to come out and change your life. Then keep going. Keep trying, keep perfecting. If you start to think that you probably don’t have any creative juice left, take your pulse. If your heart is still beating, you have untapped potential.
I’ll be over here with a cup of tea, waiting to hear what you’re inspired to whip up. Feel free to share. Whatever it is we’ll figure it out ❤