Move, Bitch! Get Out The Way!
Updated: Jan 3
I’ve spent so much of this year discovering who I am at this point in my life. For the majority of 2019, I was 35: smack dab in the middle of my 30’s. And while most of my life was wonderful (my day job was going well and my intuitive work was truly poppin’) my creative life felt stalled AF.
I wasn’t writing. When I tried, it felt more like trying to complete a thesis for school rather than one of my favorite things in the world. I wasn’t short of opportunities: people were calling me and asking me to create with them. It was all I’d ever dreamed of! But I couldn’t even entertain their ideas. Each word I typed felt like so much pressure. My brain bogged me down with self-sabotaging questions. “Will this piece be my big break?” “What if this play doesn’t change my life?” “Is this work even good?!” The weight of these questions started to feel crushing. And even though I never got one single bad review, no one even suggested that I kind of sort of maybe sucked, I could not stop thinking that I may not know what the hell I was doing.
It took a while, but I eventually identified what was holding me back. Why couldn’t I write anymore. In almost every scenario I thought of, the biggest factor was me. I was standing in my own way! I'd start down a path and I'd let fear completely take control. My fear would yell and shout and scream and I didn’t know how to shut it out. At one point, sleepless, tears in my eyes, I asked my guides to show me how to get out of my own way.
What they showed me was that I had to ask myself to move out of my way. And not how Ludacris suggests in his 2002 song. I had gotten used to talking to myself like a drill sergeant. "Move it, maggot! You weak, sorry excuse for a writer! Oh, what are you going to do? Cry like a girl?! You'll never get anywhere if you don't move! Move!" I am not a soldier. I'm not even a very good athlete. If someone ever tried to motivate me by yelling at me, I’d straight up just cry. So why would I think it's ok to talk to myself this way? When has this ever worked for me?
Right on time, Elizabeth Gilbert was on a podcast I listen to regularly. She talked about working with her own fear. How she asked it, politely, to ride in the backseat instead of trying to drive. Fear is necessary, useful, but it can't have control because it won't let you get started. That was me. I fully had fear in control of the car and we were sitting safely in a parking lot, my fear checking and double-checking the mirrors, asking if I had a plan for when we inevitably ran out of gas on the side of the road and got carjacked by masked marauders. (My fear is so damn dramatic, y'all.) I knew this relationship had to change.
I thought of how I felt when I produced my best work – Coddled. Listened to. Well fed. Warm. Allowed space to discuss my thoughts, feelings and ideas – This was my comfort zone. I took my time to set up my environment. I talked to my wife and friends about my insecurities. I created affirmations that I recited daily to remind myself that it was ok if my first try wasn’t my best try. This was all me politely asking myself, "excuse me, could you please step aside so I can get by?" And slowly, carefully, my fear moved.
This was not the end. My fear and I will have to have this conversation again. We had this conversation before I started writing this! Maybe one day we won’t need to have it because I’ll believe it on an instinctual level. But today, and every day that I pick up a pen, a paintbrush, a marker for my coloring book that no one will see, I nurture myself. I prepare my space as if I’m getting ready to entertain a much-loved guest, and I lovingly, ever-so-politely ask myself to get the hell out of the way.