Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Guiding Star Check In: Help Me, I Think I'm Failing

I'm always striving to make this blog better, so when I found this weekly newsletter about creativity from Dan Blank, you know I signed up. The first thing I learned from Dan is to find your super fans. The second thing I learned was to collaborate more. Those two ideas have led me to talk to more of you about Creatavita (and if I haven't talked to you and you have something to say, please, leave a comment or find me).

I asked one fan how Guiding Star was working for her.

The answer? Not so good. As in:

...I'm hesitant to set new goals bc I don't want to fail again.

Instead of rushing in with all kinds of advice and positive words (like "you got this"- a phrase you are unlikely to ever hear come out of my mouth because I dislike it so much), I decided to think about how I deal with failure.

Ah yes, my dear friend failure. Actually, my dear friend is the fear of failing.

This dear friend has been around for as long as I can remember. This dear friend is yucky and awful and has held me back from the magnificent abundance of my life way too often. In fact, if I hadn't had this conversation, I wouldn't have realized how much it had come back in my life.

So, while contemplating how to write about this conversation (and painting a banister. What an awful task, painting a banister), I decided to listen to one of Oprah's Super Soul podcasts, this one with Brene Brown. And there it was, wrapped up for me - a reminder of my largest fear. The same fear I've had forever. The same fear I will always have. The same fear that I continue to learn to live with and continue to learn to embrace.

I'm afraid I don't belong.

Obviously, these ferns belong right here.

Pretty much everywhere when I'm in my darkest moments - I don't belong as a performing artist, I don't belong in my town, I don't belong in my family, I don't belong in this country; once I get going, the ugly list grows and grows.

I recognize how desperate and almost maudlin this might sound, but this is me, honest, vulnerable and authentic. In my worst moments, and even sometimes just on a regular day, this is how I feel.

But see, I know this about me. I know this feeling of not belonging is ancient, crusty and not the truth. I know it is a story I tell myself. I have explored this feeling alone and with trusted professionals. I recognize it. Sometimes, like the past few weeks, it sneaks back into my life, like a little worm. In this case, I didn't recognize it. I was distracted and the little beast took that opportunity to move back in.

Just about everyone I know (except for Patti LuPone, and I don't know-her-know-her, if you know what I mean) has a fear. I bet if I took a poll, most of you would agree fear of failing is one of the top 3 fears.

Every day without wind is a day of failure for these windmills.
Yet they're still lovely.
Here's how I deal with the fear of failure (which is different than failure).

I accept this fear.

I acknowledge that it will always be with me. I recognize this fear has merits - many times, it has kept me from risks that were not wise to take. I also recognize that this fear can easily take over, BUT when I acknowledge it, I am better able to look at it clearly. I see when it is reasonable and when it is holding me back.

I haven't always been like this. I have had to practice, and I suspect I will always have to practice. I'm better than I was. I am particularly better at recognizing when it is starting to hijack my life. I think...

Here's a little game I play with myself: I make a mental list of all of the wonderful people who, in my estimation "belong". I reflect on their friendships, our interactions, their positive words and actions with and toward me. This forces me to acknowledge the truth that these "belongers" choose to include me in their belonging. Even though they don't know that I feel like I don't belong. Yes, this feeling is as convoluted as that last sentence.

Does it work every time? Of course not. However, this action helps me realize that this story that I choose to tell myself, that I don't belong is false, is just that - a story.

I hope this helps. Like I hope every post here at Creatavita helps.

Update: Read this post from Patti Murins, currently on Broadway in Frozen. We are not alone.

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