(Speaking from experience.)
The other morning, I woke up and started getting ready: washed my face, brushed my teeth. I walked back into the bedroom to get dressed, and John was still asleep. It was 7:30 on a Monday, so I woke him up thinking surely he needed to be doing something. I proceeded to make coffee and breakfast tacos, and then shouted to John from the kitchen that I’d made breakfast. No answer. I texted him a picture of the tacos in a stance of stubborn passive-aggression. No answer. After a few minutes, I was fuming at the thought of this breakfast I had so thoughtfully thrown together getting cold. I went to the bottom of the stairs and called his name.
“John? I made breakfast!” (How sweet of me.)
I could hear in his groggy reply that he had still been asleep, but he hopped out of bed and came downstairs. We talked a little about our days ahead, and I asked what his schedule was like. His first class was at 11-something, and then he had another class that afternoon and a group meeting.
“Are you gonna workout today?” I asked. He said yeah, probably, but it would most likely be that afternoon.
My mind started crafting this story about what he’d do as soon as I left for work in a few minutes. The fictional story went that he would sit on the couch for a couple hours until his class, watching golf, drinking coffee, scrolling social media — and suddenly I was so mad at him that I could hardly look at him as I said goodbye for the day. As we parted ways, I pushily, irritatedly suggested maybe he should just get his workout out of the way this morning. And he did. As soon as he acquiesced so easily and kindly, it clicked almost instantaneously that I have a problem.
Reading has really become a top priority for me lately. I’d say it’s just above Vanderpump Rules, but just below yoga. That’s a significantly important spot on my list.
It has always been something I enjoy doing, but when I was in school I always felt I should be doing academic reading (especially as an English minor, which ensured literature aplenty to fill up my reading roster), and during my first couple years post-college, I was so overwhelmed with work and staring at a computer all day that the last thing I wanted to do was pick up a book at 7:30 p.m. on a Tuesday. Now, it’s about all I can wait to do nearly every day.
I have officially come full circle, back to my third grade self. Back to being nerdy and bookish, and I love it.
Once upon a time, I interned at a magazine in its editorial department. It was my senior year in college, which I like to think was just yesterday but, in reality, was nearly three years ago, and I was pretty sure I was winning at everything in life. I interviewed fun entrepreneurs and interesting professionals, wrote several articles a week, and was certain I was the next Diane Sawyer (print edition).
I wanted to work for the magazine more than anywhere else after I graduated — so badly that I even applied for the receptionist position, which made about no money and obviously had nothing to do with journalism. From my whopping seven hours a week spent in the office, I was positive the people and atmosphere were everything I could ever dream of in a first job environment. (Clearly seven weekly hours is enough to tell something like that, right?…)
It all seemed ideal, except for this one girl.
She was a full-time employee, and I worked with her on a couple fact checking assignments. I knew her job vaguely revolved around fact checking and data analysis within the editorial department, and I can clearly remember watching her walk down a hall one day with a sullen look on her face, a norm, and thinking to myself, I would hate to have her job.
A whole slew of people in the creative realm, maybe even everyone, allows themselves to believe a debilitating lie, and the lie is that your pursuit — be it blogging, writing a book, taking award-winning photographs, or penning songs — is consumed by enough talent already. There’s this littler whisper in our brains that shows up when we’re working on a project that tells us, in more or less words, that this pursuit is already way over-saturated, so go kick rocks.
You might think hearing voices in your head would make someone insane, but au contraire, I think it’s totally NORMAL for creatives. And we must somehow acknowledge Mr. Lie-telling Voice, tell him “Thanks for your input,” and then ignore him and continue on with the work.
Imagine if a kid who wanted to be a doctor got to college and his biology professor told him, “You really shouldn’t go this route. There are hundreds of thousands of doctors in the world already. No one will need you.” Obviously, that would probably never happen, unless the professor is off his rocker.
But so many of us in the left-brain world get talked out of pursuing our creative goals because there is so much like them out there already. I was talking with my mom recently about a book, “Love Warrior” by Glennon Doyle Menton, that she just finished reading. (Let’s be honest. Everyone is reading this book right now. Thanks, Oprah.) She was telling me how taken she was by the raw, no-holds-barred, devastatingly honest account of this woman’s tumultuous life.