Creatives: Stop Rushing to Prove Yourself

The ego can really get you moving sometimes. Bless it’s heart.

Today I found out a fellow writer got a job I’ve always dreamed of having, working with one of my personal heroes. We started writing around the same time, so naturally I immediately felt inadequate.

I also felt a strange energy churning within me: urgency.

I abandoned all of the important items on my to-do list in favor of one goal: hurry up and be a successful writer.

Never mind the fact that a few moments ago (before I read this news), I was totally comfortable with my current place in life.

Moving with anxiety bordering on panic, I flung open my laptop and started furiously brainstorming. I needed a brilliant piece. Something that would go viral. I needed a win.

This sense of urgency is a familiar one. It happens every time I see someone succeed at something I dream about.

The words just weren’t coming. I was uninspired, and becoming more and more agitated as the cursor blinked on the blank page. When the words did come, they were stiff, forced–contrived.

With a deep sigh I decided i’d take a break and read a book I recently picked up at the thrift store. Boy, am I glad I did.

The book is called, “Do What Love, The Money Will Follow.” By Marsha Sinetar.

In it, she says:

“The insecure, neurotic person is often crippled in his or her ability to be patient with self-development. He visualizes grand and flashy progress through many idealized goals. His real desire is to impress others, not to improve the quality, tone, and character of his life.”(p. 52)

Wow.

What was the motive behind my sudden desperation to instantly produce brilliance? In those frantic moments, was I really working toward improving the quality of my life, or was this a desperate attempt to prove myself to others?

Is this desperate, insecure energy breeding the passion and creativity that naturally gives rise to brilliant, inspiring art?

No.

It’s ironic. My comparison to this other writer made me feel my life was unacceptable–so I started working harder, trying to force success–and the results were uninspiring.

But in those rare moments when I am completely accepting of myself and my reality–when I rush to my computer, my heart yearning to express my authentic personal truths–that’s when the magic happens.

Creativity naturally flows when I stop trying so hard to prove myself.

The book also says this:

“Self-actualizing persons follow the often slow and difficult path of self-discipline, perseverance, and integrity.” (p. 14)

Slow. Difficult….Magical.

These words calmed my restless ego and reminded me that those of us who truly want to reach our maximum potential are playing the long game. It’s not really a game it all, we’re simply making our lives be about what we value most, and in the real world, that takes time. It also takes courage to defect from the frantic scramble of the rat-race and move at our own pace.

Living an authentic, creative life means sometimes having to sit patiently while others zoom past us. It means learning to breathe slowly and deeply, and rest in our own personal truths.

In the end, it will all be worth it.

Image Credit: 123RF