I Tell You These Stories
I tell you these stories because good, grand things aren't necessarily easy. I am about a week away from a big deadline, and I am knee deep in an incredible opportunity. I have a small amount of custom orders to complete, another absolutely amazing project on the horizon, and beginning tomorrow, I will be a guest designer for a product line I adore. I received four emails in as many days with words so thoughtful, so encouraging and grateful for this very small, simple thing I gave to someone else, that I could do very little more that read the lines, over and over agin through teary lenses because I missed some words by blinking away the watery side of emotions. There is so, so much good right now, and chasing these big, fat, beautiful dreams of mine has been the most connective thing I've ever done.
Here's this thing that's nagging at me though, knocking on my brain at night and keeping me awake because I cannot seen to quiet it by ignoring it: I have never felt more selfish in my life. Pursuing this dream, though it keeps introducing me to more and more insanely talented, astounding people, and though it encourages me to share more and more, to give more and more, it's so very hungry in its own right, and the better it is, or the deeper I am in the process or the project, the more fuel I seem to crave to keep going, and this bothers my heart a bit.
I noticed this week that the impostor complex is creeping in, you know the one - that whispers in your ear "you're not that good" or "this is only temporary - people will grow tired of this, of you" and of course the most frequent "who do you think you are - to take so much space in people's minds, filling their feeds, the galleries - who do you think you are to ask for so much support?" And the worst part, of course, is that these thoughts are so very isolating, because the internal reaction, at least for me, is not to share it, but to hold it tight, to try to ignore it, work past it, get over it, because no one wants to hear whine and worry. And yet, and yet, this is exactly what I've been looking for lately.
I've been seeking out the cracks in the jars where the little glimmers of light peak through, the people who write and share when things are less than stellar, who are still phenomenally awesome, creative, thoughtful, insightful makers and doers, but who struggle with what it means to be good and confident and enough. It reminds me that maybe someone coming here feels this way, too, and so as uncomfortable as it may be, I want you to know that in the course of this one beautiful day I housed both of these thoughts: I have totally got this! and I am failing before I've even really started! Right now, I am somewhere between the two, and I know that the most comfortable thing to do would be to stop chasing these dreams, and the easiest thing to do would be to pretend that none of this is the case and I am the most well-adjusted confident person in the room, and the hardest thing to do, and the one I will choose over and over, is to admit all these struggles, to let them be part of what it means to care about, really care about what I do with this one life I have.
Yesterday I made ten versions of one video, all of them with highlights and imperfections, and in the end, late in the evening after showing some of them to my dear, sweet, patient husband, I knew that the one I would use, the best one of the bunch, was not the one without flaws; the one I will use is the one with me being the most real about this thing that I love. The video I will use is the one that caused me to look over at Andrew because I'd heard a small noise, worried that he was laughing at how awkward I obviously was, only to realize it was the smile and sound of recognition, of seeing me, the really messy, quirky, imperfect me in that video and enjoying it. That's the video I will use, and that's the moment I am trying to keep close to me as navigate these ups and downs of creative pursuits, or dreams and goals; I will keep close to me the knowledge that the world doesn't need me to be better, it just needs me to be me, to be different.
And if I am to be me, I will be honest about this life, about the strengths and weakness I see in myself, about the strengths and weaknesses I admire in others, about what it means to never get completely discouraged, even when there are no promises of success.
For now, I am going to take a break, sit on the back porch with a glass of wine and good book, and I am going to take a deep breath and appreciate being the kind of person who's heart beats loud enough, fitfully enough to keep me awake with these thoughts, not because it's easy or ideal, but because it means I am alive, and I am myself. Those heartbeats, racing with a mixture of hope and fear, lightness and unending weight, worry and faith, those beats are the same ones that belonged to an overly sensitive, quiet little girl who grew into a not quite overly, but still very sensitive, not quite quiet, but generally reserved woman who's not afraid breaking, but needs to document the pieces as they fall as a way to map it all out when she puts herself together again, and she always puts herself together again.
I tell you these things because making a million mistakes is only a problem when we stop acknowledging them, stop being honest about the fact that they're happening right now, but they're not a call to stop, only to try again.
And if nothing else, I am getting really good at trying again.