I had an ugly mental moment this morning. I’ve been cultivating a sense of abundance this week. Trying to focus on all that I have. Chanting, “I am enough, I am enough.” Rowing my little boat and keeping it low in the water, right in the middle of the channel.
This Voice of the Year thing on Friday is a big deal for me. I’m claiming that. Some days, I numb myself from the excitement so that I don’t confess that I am thrilled to have wanted something and gone out and gotten it. I’ve been trying to stay in a positive, happy place with it instead of moving straight into “I hope I don’t screw this up” territory.
This is not a left-handed plea for y’all to say, “You’re going to be fine!” I’m just telling you where my head went because I learned something from it. I learned that it’s really hard for me to accept attention for doing something well. I crave that kind of attention. I seek it out. But when it comes, I am afraid that the rug will be pulled out from under me. I am afraid that someone else will come along and take what I wanted so much just because I admitted that I wanted it. I am afraid that the “You’re OK!” store will be empty by the time I get there.
I am afraid.
That’s the gist of it. At the heart of perfectionism is fear. At the heart of my anxiety is fear. At the heart of my depression is fear. It’s always fear that I won’t be enough.
I am enough.
And here’s where the ugly mental thing came in. I saw that another blogger, who’s very creative and clever and funny, will be doing an event the same time I will. My immediate reaction, instead of, “Oh, wonderful! I can’t wait to spend some time with her!” was “Seek and destroy. If you get near her, you will be less.” Suddenly, I wanted her to fail so that she wouldn’t take any of my success.
What the hell???? I’ve never even met her.
Luckily, I’ve been reading Brene Brown’s book, “The Gift of Imperfection.” I recognized a shame reaction as I was having it. And even luckier, I had a therapy appointment already scheduled for today!
I made myself sit with the fear. I checked my evidence and it proved that I have a right to be there, regardless of who else is around me. I talked it through and realized that this once-in-a-lifetime event is also a big package of every inadequacy trigger I have, all rolled up into one. People will see that I am old and overweight. I might cry. I might get short of breath and look like I’m panicking. I might not be that good. I might be good, but not the best. I might ask for too much. Maybe it’s arrogant of me to walk out on stage.
I’m reading a story about Richard and it might not be good enough to honor his memory.
These are my triggers. Maybe they will make me sing and I’ll just black out altogether.
Part of going to therapy is letting these feelings come up. Sitting with them. Saying hello, then moving ON. Even when they are scurrying to catch up to me.
I did my work with my therapist and I came back to the knowledge that there is enough of enough for everyone. I don’t have to scrap with other writers for a limited number of readers. I can be good. She can be good. You can be good. We can all be wonderful together.
The creative life is not a competition; it’s a tide. A rising tide lifts all boats. When I occupy a space of abundance in my own heart, I can share it with others. When I’m stuck in fear, I have nothing to give. I am going to loosen my grasp, let the tide take me. A rising tide, lifting all boats.
I’m not even going to reread this because I might chicken out on publishing it. Just remember this: fear doesn’t have to stop you. It won’t stop me.