Baby, Have I Got News for You … Good News.
I’m having a hard time is a tough place to start.
But alas, it was true for me a while back. I’d been trying to walk a path of love and trust, but my (metaphorical) feet kept slipping.
Do you know the feeling? That feeling you get when you want to snap out of a critical mindset, but it’s just really, really hard? The way you know better than to judge yourself and others, but you keep doing it anyway?
It was like walking along an icy street in winter. I have good balance; I was a competitive figure skater. Even so, I was … slipping. I didn’t fall, but for a terrifying time, I’d slide into unhealthy thoughts.
You’re not good enough. Your writing isn’t either. Your last post was lackluster. You’re not where you thought you’d be with the blog and reaching a wider readership, and it’s because you’ve screwed up irrevocably. Good luck getting back on track, or ever seeing those crazy dreams come true.
I managed to right myself, but still, I was shaken. I wasn’t comparing myself to others, exactly. Instead, I was making comparisons with an imagined, ideal self … and I was falling short every time.
When I realized that my thoughts were going crazy, I tried to get quiet and listen. When I did, this letter is what I heard. Something tells me that I have to be brave and share it. Someone else might share this struggle; someone might need to read this today. If so, this is for you.
I hate to break it to you, but you’re scared, honey. There have been some really positive developments in your business and blog lately, and they’ve brought up some old insecurities. You’re afraid, and you don’t want to feel that fear, so you turned to self-blame. I understand.
You are making progress. If there was no progress being made, you’d have no reason to feel such anxiety. In fact, you’re anxious because you’re making progress, because that forward motion is triggering old hurts.
You want, so desperately, to feel legitimate. (And also, you want to be able to spell legitimate without consulting spell check.) You want to feel validated. It’s not subscriber numbers or fame you’re after, not really. Underneath all that, you just want to feel like you’re OK as you are. Loved as you are.
Given this, I have good news and bad news for you. The bad news is, all the acclaim in the world won’t give you what you really want. How do you know this? Read the Praise page on your website. You have so many glowing recommendations that a friend of yours actually cried when she read them, because she’s so proud of you.
Yet those acclamations – from fellow writers, clients, and New York Times bestselling authors – haven’t dispelled your fear. They can help you feel encouraged, honey, but they can’t help you feel worthy.
I know you want more of that praise, and I’m glad you’ve received it. I want you to have every good thing. But that’s not what’s needed now.
What is needed? Beginning again. Feeling what you feel. Telling the truth. Doing the next right thing. Connecting with real friends, the kind of people who cry over your website because they love you so much.
And that’s the good news: you already have everything you need. You are already everything you so badly want to be. You may wrestle with that, but it’s true. You already have that acceptance, that validation, that love. It is where it has always been, where I have always been: right here.
I am always with you. Don’t be afraid.
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About Caroline McGraw
I'm a would-be childhood paleontologist turned full-time writer, digging for treasure in people and uncovering sacred stories in ordinary days. I grew up in New Jersey (think peaceful suburb, not Newark), graduated from Vassar with honors, then served as a live-in caregiver and program director at L'Arche Washington DC. Nowadays, my husband renovates our historic 1901 home in northwestern Alabama, while I try (& fail) to keep our cat Bootsie from developing an epic tuna fish addiction. It's a beautiful life. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.