To Anyone Who Thinks They’re Falling Behind
You don’t need more motivation. You don’t need to be inspired to action. You don’t need to read any more lists and posts about how you’re not doing enough.
We act as if we can read enough articles and enough little Pinterest quotes and suddenly the little switch in our brain will put us into action. But, honestly, here’s the thing that nobody really talks about when it comes to success and motivation and willpower and goals and productivity and all those little buzzwords that have come into popularity: you are as you are until you’re not. You change when you want to change. You put your ideas into action in the timing that is best. That’s just how it happens.
And what I think we all need more than anything is this: permission to be wherever the fuck we are when we’re there.
You’re not a robot. You can’t just conjure up motivation when you don’t have it. Sometimes you’re going through something. Sometimes life has happened. Life! Remember life? Yeah, it teaches you things and sometimes makes you go the long way around for your biggest lessons. You don’t get to control everything. You can wake up at 5am every day until you’re tired and broken, but if the words or the painting or the ideas don’t want to come to fruition, they won’t. You can show up every day to your best intentions, but if it’s not the time, it’s just not the fucking time. You need to give yourself permission to be a human being.
Sometimes the novel is not ready to be written because you haven’t met the inspiration for your main character yet. Sometimes you need two more years of life experience before you can make your masterpiece into something that will feel real and true and raw to other people. Sometimes you’re not falling in love because whatever you need to know about yourself is only knowable through solitude. Sometimes you haven’t met your next collaborator. Sometimes your sadness encircles you because, one day, it will be the opus upon which you build your life.
We all know this: that our experience cannot always be manipulated. Yet, we don’t act as though we know this truth. We try so hard to manipulate and control our lives, to make creativity into a game to win, to shortcut success because others say they have, to process emotions and uncertainty as if these are linear journeys.
You don’t get to game the system of your life. You just don’t. You don’t get to control every outcome and aspect as a way to never give in to the uncertainty and unpredictability of something that’s beyond what you understand. It’s the basis of presence: to show up as you are in this moment and let that be enough.
Yet, we don’t act in a way that supports this lifestyle. We fill every minute with productivity tools and read 30-point lists on how to better drive out natural, human impulse. We often forget that we are as we are until we’re not. We are the same until we’re changed. We can move that a bit further by putting into place healthy habits and to show up to our lives in a way that fosters growth, but we can’t game timing. Timing is the one thing that we often forget to surrender to.
Things are dark until they’re not. Most of our unhappiness stems from the belief that our lives should be different than they are. We believe we have control — and our self-loathing and self-hatred comes from this idea that we should be able to change our circumstances, that we should be richer or hotter or better or happier. While self-responsibility is empowering, it can often lead to this resentment and bitterness that none of us need to be holding within us. We have to put in our best efforts and then give ourselves permission to let whatever happens to happen—and to not feel so directly and vulnerably tied to outcomes. Opportunities often don’t show up in the way we think they will.
You don’t need more motivation or inspiration to create the life you want. You need less shame around the idea that you’re not doing your best. You need to stop listening to people who are in vastly different life circumstances and life stages than you tell you that you’re just not doing or being enough. You need to let timing do what it needs to do. You need to see lessons where you see barriers. You need to understand that what’s right now becomes inspiration later. You need to see that wherever you are now is what becomes your identity later.
Sometimes we’re not yet the people we need to be in order to contain the desires we have. Sometimes we have to let ourselves evolve into the place where we can allow what we want to transpire.
Let’s just say that whatever you want, you want it enough. So much so that you’re making yourself miserable in order to achieve it. What about chilling out? Maybe your motivation isn’t the problem, but that you keep pushing a boulder up a mountain that only grows in size the more you push.
There’s a magic beyond us that works in ways we can’t understand. We can’t game it. We can’t 10-point list it. We can’t control it. We have to just let it be, to take a fucking step back for a moment, stop beating ourselves up into oblivion, and to let the cogs turn as they will. One day, this moment will make sense. Trust that.
Give yourself permission to trust that.