I sat on the train this morning, heading to "work". Work as I define it since I work for myself.
There's no office. No boss. No water cooler conversations. No one holding me accountable.
Just me, myself and I.
And many days, it's incredibly hard. I get discouraged. I grow tired of trying to figure things out on my own. I grow weary of battling my own fears and concerns around clients and contacts and money and content. I'll have a high or peak experience and then get slammed down with the other particles to keep the damn thing running. I eat a salad and try to smooth out the permanent line between my eyebrows.
I try to drown out the incessant media noise that tells me I'm not writing well or often enough to attract more of "my tribe". That I need to push myself into this little box and let just the right amount of personal information out to tempt people to buy in. That I need to appear this or that way so I'm more or less authentic.
It's all pretty ridiculous, in my opinion.
In case you haven't noticed, I don't do boxes or rules very well. I've always colored outside the lines. I have quite a few stories about this, and I hope I remember them long enough after I finish this blog post to get them jotted down for my book. And a lot of this content marketing stuff lands on me as straight white people giving their best advice on how to make it in the world, in general.
Yeah. I'm not their tribe.
But sometimes I forget that. I forget what and WHO I'm here for and how I want to do it. I forget and I grow discouraged. The more I feel this discouragement and explore it (because just sitting and feeling like shit doesn't change anything) something occurs to me. It helps me break through the discouragement for a glorious fleeting moment.
I reach a new level of thinking or awareness or self-realization. And the fear is gone.
I realize discouragement is our fear dying.
Because we can't grow and change without coming up against who we have been or are. And to become more of who we want to be, we need to die a little. We need our thoughts and habits and beliefs and perspectives to disappear before they can be replaced.
But we first need to see them and confront them. And this is discouragement. When we are confronted with what we think are limitations and blockages, either internal or external, we despair.
"It won't work."
"I have no idea what I"m doing."
"He isn't interested in dating me."
"Everyone will laugh at me."
"People think this bowtie is dumb."
"I should give up even trying."
When these thoughts take over our minds and hearts, we despair. We grow cynical. Our fear becomes louder and stronger than our commitment. Our commitment tries to stay alive as it suffocates under internal or external pressure. We're faced with this old way of thinking or being and the possibility of a new one. Our discouragement builds and tempts the life of our fears, holding them by the throat. The battle has begun!!
And then our commitment to ourselves and our ability to change kicks in and grows stronger and louder than the fear. Our discouragement lifts. The fear is gone. That part of us is dead.
And the raw, tenderness of our true potential springs up, like a crocus in the spring. Fighting through the cold dirt to expose new, vulnerable tendrils and leaves to the chilly air and lukewarm sun.
Discouragement disappears with the death of winter. New life, and hope, springs eternal.