Too Broke to be Insecure
This afternoon I participated in an introduction to freelance writing webinar hosted by writinglaunch.com . Over the past few months, I've been trying to elevate my writing career. While I've been able to find semi-regular work, but bank balance has remained rather low. In order to combat this, I decided to invest in learning more about the business aspects of being a freelancer. It was an informative and insightful session, but I have to say that we all got a little more than we bargained for during the q&a.
While most people asked the host about pay rates for beginners or the best sites to pitch to, one woman asked something else. She asked how could she find the courage to start writing. She disclosed that she has wanted to start in the field for years but was too afraid to try. Now she was out of a job and was desperate to start writing and making money--fast. Yet even with the threat of destitution, she was still too afraid to start.
Yeah, it was intense.
Unsurprisingly, the host couldn't give her much assistance. Dealing with existential crises was obviously out of his area of expertise. He did admit, however, that he too had had the same feelings of fear, but had managed to push them aside in order to create the life he wanted for himself. It was one of the many moments in which I felt as though life was speaking to me. So to myself, that lady and anybody else who needs to hear this, here goes: You are too broke to be insecure.
And if by chance you are not broke, hear this: in order to have the life you want, you don't have the luxury of entertaining insecurity.
I know it seems a little harsh, but when have you ever known the truth exist in any other form? The reality is that being your own worst enemy is a surefire way to lead a broken, pain-filled life.
If you don't believe me, consider this. Maya Angelou wrote in her autobiography I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings that “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” For non-writers or that can be amended to this: there is no greater pain than not fulfilling your potential.
For most of us, this trepidation is probably due to some form of unhealed trauma. Perhaps you had overprotective parents. Or maybe you spent your formative years around people who were rather provincial and unsupportive of the gifts you hold. In any case, no matter how you got this way, you are at a point now where you realize that not being who you really are is slowly killing you inside.
And as Dr. Angelou said, the pain is excruciating. And here I'll repeat, you are too broken and/or poor to keep this going. And if you are already in this much pain, what truly do you have to lose by trying?
Half open Wings
I know what you are thinking--that's easy for you to say. But trust me, I am the queen of self-sabotage and have a virtual ph.D in procrastination. I've known that I wanted to be a writer since the age of 5. Yet every time I take a few steps forward, I end up running back to the end of the line. Fear of the pressure and accountability that comes with being successful has kept me suspended in mediocrity.
But it has gotten to the point that I simply can't live this way anymore.
A few months ago, I wrote that I had quit my job in the hopes of finally wanted learning how to fly. But I'm beginning to realize that you can't learn to soar if you refuse to fully open your wings.
This brings me back to the webinar. Many of the tips the host gave were of course things I had already knew. The hard truth was that the way to create a successful writing career is to pitch directly to the publications that you want to write for. Suffice it to say, I already knew this. Not only did I know the publications that I wanted to write for, I also already had the pieces that I wanted to write fully thought out. Most of them had already been outlined and for some, I had already written the first paragraphs.
But I didn't complete them or send out a single pitch; despite the fact that I had started nearly all of these articles over a year ago. So, yes. I literally understand the pain of containing several untold stories within you. And it sucks.
So here I am in Lisbon living a life that has become a dance between a dream and a nightmare. While I have been finding work, during the webinar I learned that the rate I was charging was far below what is considered an acceptable amount. In other words, I'm broke.
To make matters worse, I am in renting a room in an apartment that is far too "authentic" for my taste. To be clear, I didn't expect to be living in a penthouse only two months into my career. However, I've come to realize that living in a room complete with damp, cockroaches and rats scurrying in the walls is unacceptable. But I can't afford to move. And now I realize what life is trying to tell me--I literally cannot afford insecurity.
I know that I am talented enough to make this life work. But if I don't want to keep living on a base level, I have to push myself. And if you are like me, so do you. And here are a few things that we do about it.
I am not a psychologist, so if you you truly need help please seek out a professional. You can use an online platform like www.talkspace.com. Or, you can find a therapist in person here www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists.
Step 1: Write your Obituary
Yes, really. Why do I say this? Because no matter who you are, where you come from or what you believe, the reality is that this life will one day come to a close. Who is the person that you want to be after all is said and done? Write it down. Acknowledge it. Admit to yourself that who you really are and what you truly want for yourself.
If this is too morbid for you, you can also make a vision board. But the goal is not only to inspire you to act, but to remind you that time is finite. Now that I am in my early 30s, this is something that is truly starting to sink in. While it is never too late to start over, at some point time will run out for all of us.
The cliche goes that hindsight is 20-20, so why don't you give yourself a head start? Look back on your life while you still have the chance to make some changes. Speak your true self into existence. Allow it space to grow and give it the energy to release into the world. Once you face your biggest fear, you will recognize how false they really was. And slowly over time, these trepidations will begin to melt away.
Step 2: Give yourself a Challenge
This doesn't necessarily have to be related to what it is that you want to do, but it will be great practice for you to push yourself. Make it something that is both rigorous yet attainable. It could be something as demanding as signing up for a 5K or even a marathon. Or perhaps keep it simple and just challenge yourself to do a few hundred squats a day. It doesn't have to be fitness related, but that is a great place to start. It just has to be something that you do to push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Giving yourself something to focus on will be great practice getting yourself in gear for whatever it that you want to do. Hold yourself accountable. Give yourself the gift of learning discipline. It will help to lay the foundation in order to help you to build the new you.
Step 3: Be Kind to Yourself
This may seem counterintuitive to the previous step, but I assure you that it works. I once read that procrastinators are not, in fact, as apathetic as many believe them to be. Instead, they generally hold themselves to impossibly high standards that they can never fulfill. They are so overwhelmed by the possibility of what they need to do or who they need to become that they put off starting in the first place.
So every time you achieve a goal or complete a task essential to your growth, give yourself a pat on the back and a word of encouragement. And I mean go IN. Baby yourself, encourage yourself. Acknowledge how difficult it was to whatever you did and you got it done. You are growing--and growth is what you need. Let's keep it going.
Step 4: forget regret
The great philosopher Beyonce Knowles once sang, "This is for them bitter somethings. Stop living in regret, baby its not over yet." I'm tempted to just leave it there, but I'll elaborate to ensure the message is clear. Sometimes we can become so engrossed in our failures or short-comings that we forget that life isn't done with us yet. We still have time to start over. Life may have disappointed us or let us down. Or perhaps we were the problem. We didn't do the right thing at the right time or perhaps we didn't learn the lesson fast enough. But that doesn't have to be the end of the story.
Ask yourself what you want more, to hold on to the story of your pain or to open yourself up the possibility of happiness? Whatever it is that happened or that you did, it doesn't have to be all that happens to you. Forget your regrets, process you pain, and release your bitterness. You don't need it where you are going.
Step 5: start
There is no getting around this. The reality is that there truly ain't nothing to it, but to do it. Start. Begin. Try right now. There will never be a perfect time or moment. There is no need to wait for the ifs and whens or untils. The time to begin is right now.
Believe me, I'm taking my own advice on this. I've made my bed and now I have to sleep in it--literally. And it sucks. My current circumstances are enough to motivate me. But not everyone does well with a sink or swim mentality. So, start slowly. Anyone who has ever achieved any level of success while tell you that the true key to it is not talent it is tenacity and consistency. Anything that you practice, you'll get good it. It is time to practice being the person you need to be.
So, swallow your pride, tell you fears to take a seat in the backseat and just begin. You can't afford not to.