I am patting myself on the back for making it through Week One.
One of my biggest personal struggles is motivation, taking that first step and keeping momentum. I am exceptionally good, I have realized, at rationalizing. I can pretty easily convince myself that, not only whatever excuse I have come up with for not doing something, but the bargain I have made with myself to make up for it tomorrow, are totally legitimate and acceptable. Any attempt to convince me otherwise will be struck down with more rationalizations, excuses, or entirely dismissed as offensive. It is surprisingly self-destructive.
I have faced that challenge more than once this week. The big leap of actually starting wasn’t too difficult, I was (and still am) pretty excited about this project. This week in my everyday life has been tumultuous and exhausting. I am back at work and the boys are back in school. Any semblance of structure, organization, or routine had been blithely shoved aside by the holidays. This week has been a blur, and I have been changing proverbial hats more than a supermodel changes clothes– Mom, wife, employee, therapist, friend, volunteer, sister, chef, maid, chauffeur… eat, sleep, rinse, repeat. At the end of the day it is hard for me to feel motivated, or particularly inspired. (Who am I kidding? Even first thing in the morning it is hard to feel motivated or inspired!) It would be so easy to talk myself into giving one weensy, little, drawing a pass for a day. Most of the time my first opportunity to sit down for any real amount of time isn’t until after 10 pm. I had a long day, I tell myself. I have a long day again tomorrow, I tell myself. I really should just sleep, I say. But I have persisted, and made myself work on a sketch. And those few seconds of mental sparring are a fight to the death, winner takes all, and the stakes are my dreams.
Who would I be letting down? Where’s the harm in letting just one day out of a few hundred go?
It is all too easy to let myself down in the beginning, to write something off as doomed from the start. But this is an opportunity I have created for myself. Not just a whim, not just an passing phase, but a small step toward something greater for myself and for my family. This is bigger than a New Year’s Resolution, this is truly about opening myself up to parts of my life that have mostly just lived in the part of my brain labeled as “wouldn’t that be nice” or been disregarded entirely to the cobwebbed center of the part labeled “will probably never happen.” Perhaps one of the pitfalls of being so incredibly right brained is that I imagine all of these lovely fantasies and dreams and the creative ways I could make them happen, but my poor, atrophied, left brain isn’t given the chance to actually logically plan out and act upon them. Besides, it’s much simpler to dismiss them and trade up for the newest dreamland scenario.
I can’t afford to give myself a pass, not even for a day. I know myself well enough to know that. One day will lead to another day somewhere in the future, and then that day might lead to a couple days in a row, until a month later I look back and realize that I have stopped drawing again, and another dream has slipped away. That’s when I get disappointed in myself. I hold high standards of myself, and a little voice in the back of my mind slowly shakes its head and frowns while saying I know you could’ve done that, you can do better than this. And it is worse, even, than when I got that parental lecture in my teenage years. This isn’t someone else’s projection of their expectations or their perception of my capabilities. This is the truth. This is my Self, saying Wow, you really let me down. Each time I have had to fight against old habits of my nature, and have chosen to do what I told myself I would, I feel a small wave of victory wash over me, energizing me, and building my confidence.
My confidence in this project still waivers, it is so new that I find myself unsure of the direction I want it to take. My confidence in sharing this journey with my close friends, family, and the world at large is still shaky in these fledgling days. But that I can handle. Far more bruised, is my confidence in my Self that I can start a project both by myself and for myself and see it through. It feels as though the more I reflect on what this project is and what it entails, the scope of the true meaning and the real impact this potentially has (on so many levels) becomes so much greater and more of a challenge than I would have imagined.
At this point, I guess I will just have to keep taking those small victories of Self over habit. I have to trust that I am inspired for a reason, that this is simply an opportune way to face down the challenges and growth that need to happen. And all I can hope for is that being able to focus on my creative outlet will help ease some of the growing pains.