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Becoming30 July's Question

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

One normal Sunday afternoon during lunch, I suddenly felt an unwelcome acquaintance come into my space: tension. It crept slowly into my body, my legs began to bounce, my heartbeat quickened, and I started thinking about all the things I had to do. The lesson planning for my ESL job, writing for my website… I began to think, “I don’t have time to eat lunch.” I began to hear this voice in my head tell me, “What were you thinking? Starting a website, now? Why are you taking on a speaking engagement?” Those seeds of doubt morphed into, “There are so many better people who know more than you, who are better suited.”

I began to hear tension’s voice, fear, enter my thought pattern and snatch away my confidence in myself. “You are not enough. Not smart enough, not original enough, not creative enough.”

I named what I was feeling to my husband and told him I didn’t feel ready for this upcoming week. He talked me through how 1) I lesson planned all weekend, so I am prepared, and 2) If I wasn’t good enough, why are opportunities being presented to me?

John’s logic helped, but I could still feel my leg bouncing. I had to believe it myself. So, I hugged and thanked him but told him I need to go home and write a list and prioritize my tasks immediately.

When we entered our home, my heart was still beating, and I felt I needed to do something to ground myself. I lit a candle and made my bed. And as I was making my bed, I began to sing a song that I made up in the moment, “Your thoughts aren’t always true, you are beautiful too. You are being the best you, your thoughts aren’t always true.” Again and again, I repeated those words, letting them softly escape my lips. I sang them to myself as I pulled the sheets taunt and fluffed the pillows. Pretty soon, I was smiling and my heartbeat began to slow down. I replaced that negative inner voice with a simple song and sang it until it felt true.

I thought about why I don’t feel “original” enough and the root was a real experience that taught me quite a lot about creative ventures.

When I was around 21, I was invited to a potluck/discussion in Minneapolis. It was an incredible day that showed me it was possible to simply invite folks over and have a powerful experience just talking and listening. The day touched me and led me to organize the very same idea in Duluth. I called it the same name and invited a handful of people without thinking much about it, and it was awesome. We talked and ate and drank from the early afternoon until well past midnight. We decided to make this a monthly gathering, and I was thrilled. I took pictures and posted them on Twitter. And soon I was called out on Twitter for stealing the idea and not communicating with the original organizer. I was mortified. I was embarrassed and mostly, I felt like a fraud.

Through that experience I learned I had to give credit where it was due. Creatives are right to protect their ideas. In my mind, I knew the best thing I could do was to admit my mistake and apologize, but I was so embarrassed. I just wanted to pretend it didn’t happen. I didn’t express regret until I was face-to-face with the organizer a year or so later. She was incredibly graceful about the whole incident and expressed what she would have preferred I do. But from then on, I questioned everything I created, “Is this thought/idea actually mine? Did I steal this from someone? Am I an imposter? I don’t deserve to have these opportunities. I am a fraud.”

Once I got closure with the person I harmed—by taking her work and presenting it as my own—I was able to move forward. I moved past the mistake, but I still question if I am worthy. When I am given a platform or opportunities, I wonder if there are better people suited for this work.

When my mind begins down this path of destruction, I seek affirmations, I write, I talk to a loved one, I do something to pull myself out of the sea of negativity. I try different methods to ground myself in the truth.

Fear is a distraction. It redirects our focus towards something unproductive and not worthwhile. It stops us from achieving our goals and hinders our chance to grow and expand. My fear of not being original comes from a real mistake I made and was publicly called out on, but I learned from it. That mistake caused discomfort, but it caused me to grow and I will never make the same mistake again. And just because I made a mistake, that doesn’t mean I am unworthy moving forward; it means I am human.

July's question: What is a fear that has held you back? What is negative thought pattern about yourself that you would like to break free from? If you are feeling inclined drop an affirmation you have used to overcome the fear. <3

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