Support groups tend to be nondenominational. I found this out the first time I sat in a circle in the back room of a Church. You are holy adjacent, but not required to be holy. You are invited to speak, but if you have no words, you’re given space to simply exist.
When the hour-long meeting is coming to a close, the Serenity Prayer fills up the room. The idea of prayer also takes on new meaning within those walls — less of a plea to step into holiness and more of one to step into your own life.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
Grant me courage to change the things I can.
Grant me wisdom to know the difference.
The first time I heard it, it was a lightbulb moment with the question, “where had this prayer been my entire life and especially throughout my entire career?” I’m in and out of support groups for reasons other than creativity, but let’s not complicate a good thing. The Serenity Prayer is a lifeline for anyone creating, writing, ideating, supporting, generally putting themselves out there in the creator economy.
The list of things I cannot control is long and if I let it nerve-racking. Every guru on the Internet makes a buck and change out of selling the notion that if you just try hard enough, the code can be cracked, will be cracked, has already been cracked in a different life if you pay enough attention to the stars.
I don’t know if they’re right or wrong, but I do know that the foundation my anxiety and mental health rest upon can’t take a constant sledgehammer of me believing that I control all things. I know because for so long it’s how I’ve operated.
If I was a perfect little girl in school or at home then maybe the adults in my life would act differently or show up better.
If I was the perfect student then maybe I would fit in better in school.
If I checked all the boxes in my career then maybe I would get everything I wanted on the other side.
There are things I can control. There are things that I can do that have ripple effects of positivity or negativity on my life and circumstances. I have agency, after all.
But, in the same breath, it’s freeing to admit that there are things I can’t control and I shouldn’t pretend I can.
Instead, under the umbrella of “Things I Can’t Control” — right alongside “death” and “the price of guacamole”— needs to exist “what other people think of my work,” “when someone else will green light a project,” or high-level (and most gut-gnawing) “what other people think of me.”
Knowing the difference between what you can and can’t control is a muscle you strengthen over time. It’s why I like the third part of the prayer the most. “Grant me the wisdom to know the difference.”
It’s not grant them (whoever that may be in your life) the wisdom to tell you what the difference is, it’s grant me the wisdom to know the difference in my own life. When to start, when to stop, when to leave it in the hands of the Universe.
Whether you believe in god with a capital G or the word “God” as a stand-in for the forces that you subscribe to, I hope it brings you wisdom and also peace. Aim to fold it into the habit of your every day creative life not because it will help with work-life balance (what is that even?) but because it can be the difference-maker between your sanity and insanity.
In the meetings, it’s a reminder that the only person I can tend to, control, or heal, is myself. Bringing that into perspective helps make life more manageable.
I write about mental health, grief, and how to cope with life’s every day challenges on vivnunez.com.
Follow along on my instagram.com/vivnunez for mini-essays on the same topics.
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