On Motivation and Inspiration
I Don’t Need More Motivation, Inspiration, or Positivity Stuff
Seriously. I don’t need more motivation. I don’t need to be more inspired. I don’t need to read (or make) any more lists and journal entries about how I’m not doing enough.
Sometimes, I think our culture wants us to buy into the illusion that if we can read enough self-help articles and enough memes with pithy and inspirational quotes, that little switch in our brain will flip to the off position and magically send us out of our funks and freak outs and push us into action.
See, the thing is that nobody really wants to talk about it when it comes to being motivated and inspired, successful, productive, our ‘authentic selves’ or all those little buzzwords and phrases that have come into vogue: you are as you are until you’re not. Period. As Popeye said, ” I yam what I yam”. I begin to change when I want to change. I become different when I want to be different. I grow when I’m ready to grow. I put things into action when it’s time to put things into action. There’s no secret. There’s no timeline. There’s nothing I can do differently sometimes. That’s just how it happens.
But really, what I believe I need more than anything is: the grace to be wherever the fuck I am while I’m there.
I Don’t Get to Control Everything
I’m not an automaton. I can’t just create motivation when I don’t have it. Sometimes I’m going through something. Sometimes life happened. You know that thing we’re all involved in? Life. It teaches me things and schools me about stuff and even makes makes go the long way around for my biggest pain-in-the-ass lessons. It makes me so anxious, I squirm in my seat and so uncomfortable in my skin, that I want to escape, go away, disappear.
I used to escape by drinking copious amounts of alcohol and snorting white powder up my nose. When I didn’t do that anymore, I used food; pretty little petit fours and other sugary French pastries mostly, until my body blew up to a hefty quarter of a ton. Not only that, I learned that I had given my pancreas a run for it’s money too with all that sugar and I was diagnosed with diabetes.
What helps with the anxiety is remembering the first rule I learned in Cocaine Anonymous when I was learning how not to get loaded because life happened: I don’t get to control everything. In fact, hardly anything at all
I’ve learned that I can do what I think I should be doing or everyone else thinks I should be doing every single second of every single day until I’m tired, worn, and broken, but if the words don’t show up on the page or the artwork or the ideas don’t want to come whooshing out, they won’t. I can show up every day with my best and brightest intentions, but if it’s not the time, it’s just not the fucking time. I just end up “shoulding” all over myself. I need to remember to give myself permission to be a human being, not a human doing.
Maybe the book is not ready to be written because I haven’t met the inspiration for my story yet. Maybe I need some more life experience before I can shape that magnum opus into something that feels real and true and raw; something that resonates deeply with other souls. Maybe I didn’t fall in love that time because whatever I needed to know about who I am was only knowable through being alone. Maybe my sadness does wrap around me because it is, in many ways, the masterpiece upon which I have created my life.
I Am the Same Until I’m Different
I’ve also come to know this: Experience cannot always be manipulated and yet, I don’t behave as though I know this truth. Sometimes, I try so hard to manipulate and control my life, to turn creativity into a productivity game I must win, or try to shortcut success because someone else said they have, to attempt to process emotions and map uncertainty as if they are journeys to be traveled as the crow flies.
I don’t get to game the system of my life. I just don’t. I don’t get to control every outcome and circumstance as a way to never feel the uncertainty and unpredictability of something that’s often beyond what I understand. It’s the basis of being present: to show up as I am in the moment and let that be enough. Even if it doesn’t feel that way.
I learned that 30 years ago, and yet, I don’t consistently behave in a way that supports that way of life, 30 years later. Somehow, I forgot and made it complicated. Somewhere, I learned to fill every minute with productivity tools and read bullet-point lists on how to kill off my own natural, human impulse. I often forget that I am as I am until I’m not. I am the same until I’m different. Sure, I can move that a bit further by working at healthy habits and show up to my life in a way that fosters growth, but I sure as hell can’t control time.
Time is the one thing that we often forget to accept.
Maybe It Will Make Sense Someday
Living with a “condition” like depression teaches you that things are dark until they’re not. A lot of my own unhappiness stems from the belief that my life should be different than it is. Really. I just said that. I’ll say it again: A lot of my own unhappiness stems from the belief that my life should be different than it is. I have come to believe my self-loathing and self-hatred comes from this idea that I should be able to change my circumstances, that I should be richer or thinner or better or happier.
While accountability can be empowering, it can also lead resentment and bitterness that I don’t need to be holding onto. I remind myself sometimes that putting in my best efforts and giving myself the reminder to let whatever happens to happen–and to work at not feeling so directly and vulnerably tied to its outcome– is the best thing I can do for my sanity. Opportunities, blessings, and gifts don’t always look like we imagine they will nor do they arrive in the way we think they will.
I don’t need more motivation or inspiration to create the life I yearn for. I need less shame around the false idea that I’m not doing my best. I am learning to stop listening to people who are in vastly different life circumstances and life stages than I, who tell me that I’m just not doing or being enough. I’m learning to let time do what it needs to do. I’ve learned to see lessons where I once saw roadblocks. I’ve grown enough to understand that right now becomes inspiration later. Right now is the important thing. Wherever I am right now is what becomes who I am later on.
What Is It?
Sometimes I believe I might not be the person I need to be to be in order to accept the desires I have, yet. That ‘yet’ is important because I believe that sometimes we have to let ourselves evolve into the place where we can allow what we want to happen to transpire.
Let’s just say that I want what I want when I want it. So much so, in fact, that I’ve made myself sick and tired and miserable in order to achieve it. What would happen if I just allowed time to do its thing? Maybe my motivation isn’t the problem. Maybe, just maybe, it’s that boulder I keep pushing up the muddy mountainside that only grows steeper, more slippery, and taller the more I push.
I believe there’s magic in the Universe around us that works in ways we can’t understand. We can’t control it. Often, we have to just let it be, to take a fucking step back for a moment, to stop beating up on ourselves, and watch how it works. One day, right now will make sense even if it makes no sense at the moment.
Trust that. Believe it.