Choosing to be Buoyed

Author Victoria Erickson says, “If you want gardens, become the gardener. If you want love, embody love. If you want mental stimulation, change the conversation. If you want peace, exude calmness. If you want to fill your world with artists, begin to paint. If you want to be valued, respect your own time. If you want to live ecstatically, find the ecstasy within yourself.”

This quote spoke to me when I first read it. It’s a practical reminder that I get to choose. I get to decide what I want in my experience, and furthermore, I have a responsibility to act in ways that bring my aspirations to life. I think the quote stood out to me because it’s a contradiction to the belief I’ve held for a long time that drove me to think, ‘To do something, first, I must be good at it’. That belief cautioned me and held me back over the years from doing things because I never felt quite ready, or good. I’d tell myself I needed more time, extra experience, higher education, further training, better credibility, more years, greater success, stronger testimonials, a nicer website, anything that would show me proof that I was ready. I’d spend hours and hours rehearsing, practicing or drafting before ‘ready’ or ‘good enough’ would arrive. Often, it didn’t, and I’d go ahead, nervous and worried that I’d be found out, tarred and feathered.

Recently, I was sitting at my desk trying to write. The trying felt onerous. Accessing the right words felt more like a schlep than a skip and it didn’t help that I had a deadline looming. Forcing the words, my ideas and the point I was looking to make just wasn’t working. I was struggling with finding my flow and yet I was succeeding at feeling like a hot mess.

Two steps forward, one step back; two keystrokes forward, one Delete back, my instincts kicked in and told me go for a walk. I know now that, for me, walking brings a change in perspective and a loosening of self-induced limitations. I needed to let go of my own expectations for the piece I was writing so that I could start fresh and yet, I was still pressuring myself to come up with something good. Right then, I heard it. That one-sided conversation insisting:

“You’re wasting your time.”
“You’re kidding yourself, it’s time to get serious and do something worthwhile.”
“You’re spoiled and indulgent.”
“You’re never going to make money with this.”
“You’re going nowhere.”
“Nobody cares what you have to say.”
“You’re not going to be successful doing this.”

Harsh. Mean. Belittling. Crushing. Disparaging. Cruel.

Uh-huh, I knew this one. Having crept in quietly under the radar was the powerful force of Perfectionism. No wonder I couldn’t find my way forward. It’s sneaky and devious.

As my feet hit the pavement, my arms swinging alongside, something else became perceptible. It was like waking up from a deep sleep, becoming aware that the music in the dream is actually the sound coming from the alarm radio. With full alertness, I heard it kindly offer:

“Connect to your heart and the words will come.”
“Follow the joy you feel when you express yourself.”
“Let your unique light shine bright.”
“Your only work here is to be you.”
“Bring your own sense of beauty to the world.”
“Your words and expression are meaningful.”
“Let go of trying to be perfect and let yourself be seen.”

Loving. Wise. Encouraging. Uplifting. Benevolent. Generous.

Earlier this year, I introduced myself to Creativity and bravely proposed that we be friends. My proposal was accepted. I’d asked Creativity for guidance and support as I stepped into new spaces and courageously allowed my musings to see the light of day. Creativity has cleared paths that otherwise would have looked impassable, and she has dropped breadcrumbs to show me the way. Coaxing and luring me to leap and not look down.

On my walk, it was Creativity that graciously interrupted the weighty drone of Perfectionism and reminded me that it was time for me to choose my companion. Did I want to be bullied or did I want to be buoyed?

Distinguishing the two made it possible to choose. I chose Creativity.

To Victoria Erickson’s quote, I’d add, “If you want to be inspired, befriend Creativity.”

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