I’m up early, working on the talk I’m giving in three weeks. The same talk I gave in December. I’m still struggling to “learn” it.
On one hand, I know every word of this talk intimately because
- I wrote it
- It’s my story
On the other hand, it’s like there’s a massive disconnect between my story and me. And I can’t figure that out. Are the words too precious? Have I tried to be too clever? Is it too formulaic? Maybe it’s not enough me? Too much me?
Or maybe I’m just doing what I so often do: unintentionally sabotaging my own success in the face of possible change and positive growth.
“For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a deep-seated certainty that I was born to be a superstar.”
That’s true. I’ve never questioned it. But time and time again I’ve made sure I didn’t actually achieve it, too.
I”m sitting here this morning, even as I type, knowing I’m putting energy into something besides memorizing this script. I’m delaying the hard work, procrastinating to avoid the frustration of feeling inadequate that this talk doesn’t just roll off the tip of my tongue. While some of working on this post might be about avoiding the memorization process, I believe I have to get to the root of this, or this talk is never going to live inside me, despite the fact that it was created by me, lived by me.
If it doesn’t live inside me, it’s never going to be as powerful as I know it can be. And I will never be as successful as I know I am supposed to be.
Where does fear live in your world? How does it manifest? More importantly, what do you do in the face of it?
Fear isn’t always about something bad or scary. In this case, my fear is of launching out into the great big world as a powerful, successful speaker and writer. My fear is of getting what I actually want. Of becoming who I’ve always known I’m supposed to be.
How in the world does that make any sense?
I’ve worked through the victim phase I allowed to dictate so much of my life; that’s truly no longer a thing. So what is the next layer of self sabotage I have to remove? What is this particular rock that’s weighing me down?
If I’ve had a deep-seated certainty that I was born to be a superstar, what is even more deeply ingrained in me to ensure I keep that from happening? Why have I put certainty on a short leash when in actuality, I should be allowing it to run free with wild abandon out into the great big world?
This talk lands powerfully with people. I know that. It’s not outside criticism I fear. It’s all inside me. It’s some kind of block I have in my own mind about what I can do versus what I want to do. Where I am versus where I am going.
What is “supposed to be”?
I just went back to reread what I’ve written so far, and the phrase “supposed to be” shows up twice. Actually, it’s a version of “I know I am supposed to be” that shows up multiple times.
What does it mean that I have always believed I know what I am supposed to be?
If I think back on my life, the most successful role I have played is that of “mom.” And believe me, that was never in my list of personal characters I longed to play before I held that tiny preemie boy and decided to bring him home with me. Mom was never “supposed to be.”
Likely my second best role has been “wife of a smiling, happy alcoholic enjoying sobriety.” A role I never spent any time imagining or playing out in my mind. Never “supposed to be.”
Third would be “arts activist/administrator.” Another role I would have easily dismissed on paper as nothing I was interested in exploring. “Supposed to be?” Nope.
Was I supposed to be all of these things? Or are they just roles I was offered and said yes to along the way? Couldn’t I just as easily have played these roles:
- Young woman who had an abortion or gave away a baby for adoption
- Middle aged woman who stood up for herself and divorced her alcoholic husband
- Woman who ran a small nonprofit in a small community in the Midwest until something better or different came along
- Or a million other roles that might have presented themselves to me if I had made different decisions or had different lived experiences along the way?
I’m putting it down
This talk is all about the rocks that are weighing us down: the fear, failure, shame, disappointment and more that come along in life and drag us further and further away from the spark of whatever we were born to be and do.
But what’s becoming clearer to me with every strike of my keyboard is that what’s been most weighing me down all these years is that I believed I had a fixed definition of what I was “supposed to be.” And my life hasn’t gone like that…at all.
Because maybe there’s no such thing as “supposed to be.”
Maybe there just “is.” Maybe we have desires, dreams, tendencies and talents that intersect with opportunities, experiences, encounters and decisions. And maybe those make up the journey we take and make us who we are as opposed to who were are supposed to be.
I just took a great big breath, something I can very rarely do because of all the emotional rocks I carry around in the pockets of my chest, my mind and my spirit.
I just set this particular rock down.
What I know happens when I set down a rock is that it becomes the next step of my path. These rocks shift from crushing me to enabling me to move forward, lighter and more certain that I am exactly where I am “supposed to be.”
OK. Time to go back to work.