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afraid to fail

Are you not acting on what you want because you’re afraid to fail?

For a long time, I have been pulling myself back from growing and succeeding because I am terribly afraid to fail. A voice in my head saying I won’t deliver to other peoples’ expectations, so I wouldn’t even try at all. The times I would work on extensive & exciting projects – I would put my all into it, until one day, I would stop.

I would block myself from getting any further, and generally I’d cocoon into my bed and hide from the world. It would be so close to finished, but I avoid it until I either forget about it, or eventually pick it up and work slowly at it until completion… Then, it’s a different story whether I actually put it out into the world.

Some people call it imposter syndrome, others say it’s a lack mentality or not enough self-belief, which is what I have always found so confusing. I don’t think of myself to lack self-belief, because I truly believe in my message and my ability to be successful. Perhaps I hinder myself without even realising, and there is underlying issues that have yet to surface. Who knows? All I know is that I stop myself from moving forward, often involuntarily.

I studied Meditation Teaching for over 18 months, but I still worried that I wasn’t good enough, that people wouldn’t come to me because I’m not overtly spiritual all the time, or I would compare myself to the multitude of coaches and people already in the field… the influx of people on Instagram who provide services similar to mine. I shied away from sharing my genuine expertise because I was afraid.

I have been writing for much of my life, even went so far as to study it at University, and I still didn’t know if my voice was worth hearing. I know my stories are good, I trust in my imagination. I even trust in my writing… But again, there are so many writers out there, there are so many books people would prefer to read, and the voice would slowly fill my head… what were my stories worth?

It seeped into my art, to my jewellery, to all of my making & creating… So many lost art projects, so many ideas floated into nether. You can’t fail if you don’t try, right? The self-doubt bled into the podcasting, putting off speaking into the microphone because yet again – why would people care about what I have to say? And every day, it got easier to ignore it. Every day, it got easier to pretend like I didn’t care.

I told myself it was just so much easier to not even try.

Curled up in my doona, escaping through endless books or shows, hiding from the potential of what I could be. I never considered myself afraid to fail, but wading through the half-finished projects sitting beside my half-drunk mugs of tea, I came to accept that perhaps I was limiting myself. I was hiding and pretending not to care, because it felt easier than allowing people to understand how completely in love I am with what I can do. My default mode – false apathy – would switch on the minute I felt that I was starting to invest in myself.

Perhaps throwing out into the world that I don’t want to sit back anymore, will aid me in changing. Into filling my own cup back up and fighting back with the voice that says I’m not good enough; with a louder one, that says I am, and so much more.

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romanticised ideas

There is a romanticised idea of what writing a book is like; of what being a writer is. Early mornings basked by bitter air and fresh sunlight, your hands moving fast between pencilling an idea down & moving across the keyboard, ideas falling out gracefully. Half-empty mugs of tea, week getaways in isolated places to focus. Listening only to the birdsong.

But it’s disjointed. Messy. Cloaked in self-doubt and often dislike towards your own writing, your own ideas. It’s going in circles, days worth of shit writing that you know you will discard at the end, but going ahead with it because you need some sort of idea to flow. It’s a loneliness, sometimes only living within your head to get the idea into paper. Not knowing whether this story will actually get shared with the world, or move aside with your other tattered manuscripts.

It’s when you’re on the brink of sleep and the perfect prose floats through your head; the inner battle of deciding to write it down or convincing yourself you will remember it in the morning. You never remember it in the morning.

Outsiders’ perspectives that get thrown at you, oh what a blissful life being a writer must be, all the way to I could write a book if I sat down and focused. You are not worth celebrating until you have the words in other peoples’ hands; until your story is praised by other people. Otherwise, what are you doing? Are you wasting your life for only a dream?

Not shown is how terribly hard it is, the discipline, the tearful nights, the awful sleeping patterns, the ideas coming at the most inopportune times. The hard work, the redrafts, the chapters completely disregarded. The utter determination it is to finish, to share, to be rejected (over and over); all it takes is wafting through the many no’s, to the one yes. Because all you need is one yes. It doesn’t end when it’s written, because then you wait until it lands in others’ hands, to hear the criticism and the praise, to know that your story is no longer just your own.

Most of all it is being compelled to tell a story; whether that’s folklore or your very own, a magic world or retelling the lives of others. That there is a pull toward the pen and the paper — with simply nothing else to do but write what is floating around inside your head. The words you write have a purpose. Your story is meant to be read.

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Rackers

at an arm’s length

It’s funny that every year, you forget what it feels like. The second Sunday of May is ingrained in my head as Mother’s Day. It’s something most of us remember from when we were young and made cards with shitty glitter and flimsy cardboard in school; but those were the cards our mum’s would treasure. So, of course I always know the day is coming.

And every year, I wake up like any normal Sunday and I start to scroll through social media. Every second post and almost every single story is about mum’s. And rightly so. But you forget, every year, the pang you feel. That each year, these people get to celebrate their mum, get an updated photo to share, and get to tell them just how much they love them.

The thing is, over the years it feels like you should feel used to it. Knowing full well that you no longer get to make new memories with your mum, or do little things for her to remind her you love her. You grow older and know this day is hard for many people, from the ones who have lost their mum’s like you, or those who have strained or absent relationships with their own. So you remind yourself you’re not alone, but there’s still pain when all you have is a memory.

It’s the last drop of a discontinued perfume that I’ll never use. I don’t want to lose it. I soak in the smell when I need the comfort of her. It’s the closest thing to remembering what she smelt like. It’s a bottle I know I will keep with me forever and I’m terrified of the day it’s gone. Whether I drop it and it smashes, the smell wafting into the air and escaping. If I have a partner who good-naturedly thinks he’s throwing an old perfume bottle away, and you can’t get mad at him because he was trying to be nice; likely not understanding that that’s one of the few things you have left of her. Because you can have old clothes, photos & memories, but it’s the smell that’s distinct because that’s one of the senses that goes first when losing someone. Maybe one day it will just get lost within moving boxes, or it will simply be misplaced and lost forever.

And these are all hypothetical, but ones that wander through my head often, because I no longer get to make new memories with her. They are stuck where they were then, and even seven years on, it’s hard to know that there won’t be anymore. So I hold on to the ones I have; the clothes, the cards, the messages. The same photos because there will never be anymore; creating art out of those photos in a bid to relive and recreate the same memories we hold on to. The moments I think I hear her laugh in someone else, the nights she visits in my dreams.

She visits my dreams often, but she is always at an arm’s length. My subconscious reminds me, every time, that she’s no longer here so the dream is not real. Not allowing me to immerse in the feeling because I am trying to protect myself from being hurt when I wake up and remember. Time flows freely and suddenly you’re years down the track, but she is still and always will be as young as she was the day she grew her wings. Always a distant but distinct memory. Always at an arm’s length.

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Rackers

a haze

It’s the trickle of the warm tea down your throat. One you used to love so much, but you’ve lost the taste for it. But you still drink it, out of habit. You wandered so far into the forest of your own comfort, you lost the path to get out along the way.

It’s not that the words have been sucked dry. It’s that you run out of ways to craft the same sentiment. That living is exhausting and dying is fascinating and terrifying. That being in limbo, floating in the in-between, is somehow easier because it doesn’t require much effort either way.

You wake up every day, because you’re supposed to. The motions are always the same. Suddenly you’re washing your face in front of the mirror and you can’t even remember the steps it took to get you there. But you still do it, out of habit. You’re not sure you even recognise the reflection looking back at you.

The kettle is boiling, you look down and you’ve already heaped sugar in your mug. You leave it in there, even though you don’t really like having sugar in your tea anymore. Another old habit, dying hard.

The day moves slowly and quickly all at once. It feels sedate, yet you’re surprised when you notice the sun setting on the horizon. The colours that blend within each other across the sky. You feel an inkling of appreciation, but not enough to soak it all in. So you walk back inside, and wrap your cardigan a little tighter around your chest. Close the curtains and flick the lamp on, leaving an ominous glow about the room. It used to feel romantic, but it lost its fervour along with everything else.

Time folds in on itself and you blend into the haze.

 

 

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your feelings are valid

The phrase ‘your feelings are valid’ may sometimes feel tone-deaf or boring, because why would they not be valid? Isn’t that intrinsically what the human experience is based upon? Why would your feelings not be valid? But in many ways, we may minimise our own feelings in the way we talk to ourselves, or others use language that makes them seem unjustified.

Life, the world and your place in it can be often be more than confusing. You can easily squash what you are feeling down to a pulp, because you’re trying to overcrowd your mind with the idea of gratefulness. That what you’re feeling doesn’t matter so much because you could be feeling much worse. You’re being irrational, over-reactive, paranoid. You may convince yourself that it’s your mental illness talking, or that you don’t even have grounds to feel the way you feel at all without working through the why and trying to understand where it is coming from. Everything you are feeling is worth giving your attention to, because it has grown from somewhere and is worthy of being felt, and being worked through.

Your feelings can often seem invalidated by what someone says to you in response to you sharing what you feel — even if they didn’t mean to do so — (ie. ‘don’t worry, it’s not that bad), or filter into your subconscious from posts floating about on social media about finding the good in everything.

Feelings are not able to be right or wrong. Feelings just are. They are natural sources of information for your brain, and should be treated as so. If you ignore them, try to suppress them, or try to replace them with something else as an easy fix, they will only work their way back in a different way and often in a more intense way.

If you do not allow yourself to feel your feelings, to validate them or to allow yourself to work through them, the stitching on your old wounds may come undone unexpectedly. The pain feels fresh, almost new, as if you had not healed at all. And the process of healing begins all over again.

It’s okay to feel angry at the state of the world, at other people’s opinions. You are completely justified in feeling upset, confused, anxious and unsure. The most important thing to remember is that your feeling, though, is not a reflection on the situation itself; it’s a reflection of what’s going on inside of you as a result of the environment and the state of your mind. Work with yourself in understanding them, rather than against yourself. Allow yourself to feel whatever comes your way; your feelings are valid.