I’m going to share something, something that’s difficult to admit. Strike that. It’s so excruciating to reveal that I hope I might not regret it later recovering from what it is, a truth hangover.
It took years to realize I had been doing it. But I had also been doing it for years.
When I decided to live a year of failure, I discovered the reason why I failed. But there’s a reason why I’m risking the vulnerability that comes with confession. I believe it might help you.
Success was so terrifying that I would see any of my endeavors with half-open eyes. I couldn’t look at my grades in high school without a slow reveal. I was too afraid of reading my early blog posts before I hit publish. I submitted pieces that was far beneath perfection because I was afraid.
But it was more than success that terrified me, it was standing out.
After reading Seth Godin’s brilliant book The Icarus Deception where he says art is both, “The pride of creation and the disobedience of disturbing status quo,” it all clicked.
Culturally, we’re groomed to be cogs. Be like everyone else. Word hard, but not enough to stand out. Secure a 9-5 job and you’ll be set. You’ll escape poverty and conflict, and most importantly shame. You’ll be liked as long as you stay in the lines.
What they don’t tell you is you’ll also lose an essential part of yourself. That you’ll buy into the false security of a traditional life and you’ll sacrifice who you are. You’ll gain friends and even a modicum of success, but you’ll also walk around in a shroud of insecurity, unsure that the very people who admire you hardly know you. Or you will be like me and sabotage your success as a sense of safety. If I submit something that’s not my best work, I can always blame it on that. It’s not my writing. It’s my effort. I’m not a bad writer. I do have something to say. I am creative. It’s just that I didn’t spend time editing it or working on it as best as I could.
I was feeding a lie. I was telling myself that I was doing the brave thing being the artist Godin talks about. But really I was fooling myself.
The only way to truly live your purpose whether that means living with integrity, creating art that’s meaningful to you or a life aligned with your values is to walk with your eyes wide open.
That may mean you read your manuscript and realize it’s not working. Then, doing the work to fix it. It might mean telling your partner how you really feel. It might mean quitting your 9-5 or at least admitting it’s killing your soul.
Waking up is the only way we can be true to ourselves.
No more eyes half open. No more submitting work beneath you. No more pretending you’re walking the line when you’re really running away from the truth.
Seeing your shoddy work, unhealthy eating habits, and toxic relationship can be shockingly cruel at first. But it’s your only way out. Until we see how we’re really living and stop hiding behind our shadows, we won’t be able to live the courageous, authentic, world rocking life we’ve been created for.