There’s this myth that if someone really wants to do something — something creative, usually, like acting, or writing (for some reason, it’s usually mentioned in the context of writing) — that they’d make time to do it. In short, that if they really wanted to do it, they’d be doing it already.
This is so wrong, for many reasons. Because there are a ton of reasons that seem perfectly rational that we all tell ourselves keep us from doing what we really want to do.
These reasons may not be rational, strictly speaking, or valid from an objective viewpoint. But they seem plenty real to the person doing the rationalizing, and so they stay stuck in this ugly neverland of Wanting But Not Being Permitted To.
And that? Sucks.
I know, because I was there for a long, long time.
Once upon a time, things were really bad for me. When I say “really bad,” I mean financially, personally, professionally — everything had collapsed. My life was a shambles, and I was in dire need, abject poverty, and bad health.
Once the immediate crisis had been smoothed over somewhat, I went about rebuilding life from the ground up. This time, I told myself, I’d only construct what I really had a passion for.
In other words, no more “law school” type decision.
And, to an extent, it worked. I don’t mean to make this sound like an easy or simple process, because it was neither. It took a lot of time. It took a lot of patience. Things got better, then got worse — three steps forward, two back, four forward, three back. That’s how it went. And it was hard, hard work.
But the point is: my life was simplified in many respects, and the new version — Life 2.0, if you will — contained only the things I loved. My commitments had been wiped clean almost overnight — how many of us get a gift like that? And I was able to renegotiate new ones, and do a better job picking them in the process.
Except, there was one thing missing: my chief passion, writing. The one thing I really felt passionate about besides being a business coach and content marketing consultant. (Which is fabulous, and I do love what I do — but let’s face it. Even the work you feel most passionate about isn’t going to completely sustain you alone if you have that creative streak and burning desire to create art.)
So why didn’t I write at all during that long, horrendous time? I mean, we’re talking years, really. If I’m all that passionate about writing, why didn’t I find time to do it? Why didn’t I just write?
- I was afraid of failure
- I was afraid of what other people would think about me spending time on a passion when life was so messy
- I was too caught up in survival crises to be able to dig deep enough emotionally for the kind of writing I wanted to do
- I wasn’t in the best of health and I literally couldn’t muster the energy
- I was, in all probability, slightly clinically depressed, though it thankfully resolved itself
There are a lot more reasons I could add to this list, but let’s just stop there.
Some would say these reasons are valid. If you’re freaking out about putting food on the table, finding time to create isn’t really a priority.
But still, I fretted. Did this mean that I wasn’t “serious” about being a writer?
I’d fallen victim to that myth, despite my issues with it. Even though I didn’t believe the myth, and wrote comment after comment on blog posts asserting this “truth” protesting its falsehood, I still let myself begin to believe it, at some level.
Human psychology is just more complex than this myth would have you believe. We’re just not that simple, when you get down to it. (Or, to put it another way, we’re all way more neurotic than that.)
If you’re fighting this war yourself — if you want to write, but can’t find time, or want to paint, but are too afraid to pick up the brush — you have to be willing to go deep inside yourself to get to the root of your own neuroses and fears. You have to be willing to accept a picture of yourself, when all that inside-exploring is done, that may not align perfectly with your image of yourself.
Go deep, though. It’s totally worth it. The death of a dream doesn’t always — or even usually — happen all at once. It’s a slow, agonizing process — day by day, every day you choose not to work towards that dream, the dream dies a little bit. It’s worth getting to the cause of the symptoms before you wake up one day and find the plug’s been pulled when you weren’t looking.