Close your eyes and think really hard on that one thing that causes you the most anguish. Think about what causes you paralyzing indecisiveness, that flings around inside your brain all day, that has attached itself to you like a third arm. Think about the thing that you think is impossible, that your brain says uh-uh, no honey, not that thing, don’t do that thing, stay away from that thing, don’t even touch that thing, don’t even think about that thing, you can’t do it, you won’t do it, it’s too hard, it’s too everything that you don’t have.
Think about the thing that would make you want to run off a cliff if you found out you were not good at that thing.
Maybe it’s writing. Maybe it’s making music. Or painting. Or working on Wall Street. Or being a zoologist. Or a doctor. Or a belly dancer. Or an actor. Or a parent. Or a comedian.
Whatever makes you feel clumsy and unprepared and uncomfortable and provides every excuse there is to convince you to not do that one thing, well, unfortunately, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, that’s the thing you’re meant to do. Whatever thing that causes you the most frustration and disappointment and pulls upon all your powers of resisting that one thing, is The Thing. It’s Your Thing.
Whatever terrifies you, sorry, that’s the thing you have to do.
In the book, The War Of Art, Steven Pressfield talks about the role that capital-R Resistance plays in our pursuit of meaningful work. He says:
Self-doubt can be an ally. This is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), ‘Am I really a writer? Am I really an artist?’ chances are you are.
The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.
For most of my teenage years and my early to mid twenties, I thought that if something came naturally and was easy and I could be successful at doing it, then that’s what I should be doing. I thought that, since writing was hard and it scared me and it caused me so much disappointment and pain, that it wasn’t my path. I sidled up to the belief that I wouldn’t be a writer who actually wrote, never mind a paid writer getting paid to write. Paid to write! I wouldn’t even dare to dream such a ludicrous idea.
The act of writing and the absence of the act of writing caused me so much despair that many times my relationship toward it felt like a Bon Iver song made love to a Dashboard Confessional song. Shit was emo. I was troubled by writing. I wanted to not write and I wanted to also write. When I wrote, it was shit. When I didn’t write, I felt like shit. Awesome.
However, I’ve come to understand that the fact that writing tears me up inside means I have to do it, even if what I write is full of shit and isn’t good and doesn’t connect and will never get published. People’s opinions on my work – good or bad – have nothing to do with the work that I do. This is a high-level status way of thinking and I’m not there yet, but I have my aspirations.
Now, when I’m staring down the barrel of a resistance that wants to tell me to lay on the couch and binge Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning until my eyes bleed, I push myself to sit in the chair, against all my wills and wishes, and I write. And then, just like that, the peace comes, the anguish, if only for a moment, evaporates, and I am okay, momentarily saved from the shitstorm of shit that is not doing what I’m meant to do.
So, go. Find a way to momentarily silence that little voice that tells you that you suck, you can’t do it, you’ll never do it. Because, the only way you’ll get peace and the only way you’ll have a moment’s reprieve from that barrage of crap, is to do The Thing. Your Thing. Do it. Keep doing it. And one day, you’ll realize you’re better, you’re great even.