I wish I could tell you that I wake up each morning excited to open my laptop and share my voice with the world.
I just don’t.
When I wake up, I spend time trying to figure out my own experience. Self-care comes first. I try to figure out what is inspiring my life today. I reflect on the things that seemed so important yesterday that have subsided after a night’s rest. If I haven’t had much sleep, this moment of inspiration is lost on me and I go directly to the next paragraph.
I decide to see what my friends are up to. I check facebook. I smile while looking at a few pictures, laugh at something George Takei said, and learn from an informative article. Sometimes, I get really depressed when I read something sad. I wish I had a filter for life.
When I hear about what is going on in the world, both locally and globally, I feel that I am not doing enough. I feel so powerless. I have to remember that playing my role, inspiring and encouraging others, does help. Pursuing my own dreams helps people see what is possible, even if all of the work behind the scenes makes me feel like a small pebble rippling across the ocean water. I keep on plugging, and use my vision to anchor me.
In my head, my inner voice is still expecting me to have it all figured out. There are times where I get lonely and doubt myself. I’ve spent hours in my own head terrifying myself with mantras like “Don’t forget to do all the things plus X, Y, Z” and answering every small request for a favor from a friend, former student, or LinkedIn contact asking for help in their career search or life. Over time, I realized that creating a platform to share information would be far more powerful, and allow me to maximize my desire to help others. This is what made me serious about cultivating a space and time for writing and creating.
I realize that no one hears my voice if I don’t put my authentic self out there. People need to hear about my struggles too, even if it is difficult to discuss them.
Yes, I lose sight of the big picture sometimes. But, I have learned to strengthen my mind over time. I realize that no one hears my voice if I don’t put my authentic self out there. People need to hear about my struggles too, even if it is difficult to discuss them. I have learned how to let the tough times inspire me, and that is a powerful message to share. I realize that my struggles have the power to help others know they are not alone, and that they are capable of achieving their dreams.
Sharing the story of how I overcame is much more important than just letting people know I am an overcomer. This is why I’ve opened up and allowed myself to be transparent. It is the journey that makes my story powerful, not just the endpoint. Writing in the midst of painful times allows powerful truths to take center stage.
In the end, my writing process looks like this:
Prompt (in my mind): Let’s write about how I cultivated happiness in the past few months.
Response (in my mind): I’m sad today. Ferguson. The Middle East. Why are there always cops on my street? How can I encourage the world to take risks when even I am not sure of my safety?
It takes time, and sometimes these pains are on my heart for hours or even days. Then, an answer emerges: “To live anyhow is a defiant challenge to the fear that threatens to overtake me.”
Just when my own writing was beginning to feel fraudulent, I find my voice in my deepest pains and unanswered questions. I write quickly, before I can become distracted or lose courage.
When life is tough, you can develop strength to stay on your path. Each day, cultivate a practice of:
• Gratitude for your blessings
• Let your tough times inspire you. What have they taught you or prepared you for?
• Love others and accept love
• Embrace yourself and be compassionate towards your journey
Through this exercise, I learn to accept that life is cyclical and sadness happens. Sometimes the pain of life is excruciating. It is okay to have a bad day. It is okay to have times in life where appreciating each day takes work and some time alone to recharge. That’s okay. Live anyhow.
What I write changes when I see my dreams through the lens of the obstacles I must overcome to get there. It is a still a beautiful story, but a much richer, more complex one to tell.