Indecent Expectations: A Revelation

I’ve come to the realization that I’m much too hard on myself for not getting things done. Has this ever happened to you?

I’m not talking about the basic functions we do to survive, or at least appear to survive as properly kempt versus unkempt individuals–all the cooking, the laundry, the cleaning, the getting up on time, the putting in a good show at work so you can afford to keep sitting on the couch.

I mean the grander things, or at least what I think of as the grander things for me: Writing. Singing. Creating in general.

The old me.

I used to do the first all the time. Words poured out of me since I learned how to read and write, sculpting the lands I created in my mind, peopling the world before me. Unafraid, I explored different forms of poetry, writing styles, subjects, and scenes, and thrilled to see my name in print even if it were just for a school publication.

I also delved into fanfiction, finding many wonderful, thoughtful, brilliant people along the way, and enjoying the stories I created in worlds others so generously lent.

Singing came later in the timescale, manifesting in high school and continuing on past college, at least in a more professional sense (if you’re curious to hear me, go here), and once again I explored all manner of styles and subjects, immersed in sheet music, theatre, and state-wide competitions.

If I did all that for so long and so consistently, why not now? Why do I sit, not writing fiction, not getting together with musicians, not expressing myself in the ways I know best?

I’ve been stuck.

It was today that I realized it: I’ve been putting an indecent amount of pressure on myself to fulfill my own expectations without allowing for changes in my life.

When I was doing most of my writing, for example, it was in a structured environment or with a definite purpose surrounding it. It was much the same with singing; I had teachers and concerts to guide me. With structure comes not only practice, but discipline.

Life has that funny way of changing and taking us with it before we know what’s happening. As different things happened in my life, the original structure and purpose surrounding what I was doing also changed–but I didn’t change with it. I didn’t even think of it. I just kept expecting myself to follow the same track within all these changes.

When I inevitably failed, I’d feel terrible about it. I got locked into a cycle of self-flagellation that didn’t do a thing to get me either back on that obsolete track or forge a new one. Negativity takes up a lot of time and space.

Getting unstuck.

So now that I’ve realized all this, what next? Well, I hope to–no, intend to!–shed the cloud of negative reinforcement, and start a new, exciting journey, unabashed and unafraid.

I may even be able to draw on this experience for a book. After all, writers are often told to write what they know best.

What’s been your experience for reinventing or reforging yourself?

I am indebted for this post to Erin Harris’s Productive Procrastination post, which I encourage you to be productive and read.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Becky,

    I appreciate the thought that went into this post. You’ve made a big discovery about yourself that I hope will lead you to feel great about what you’ve already accomplished and look forward to making choices on what to build into your schedule.

    It sounds to me like you’ve been living the tyranny of the possible. Capable people see options and future accomplishments everywhere. Sometimes those possibilities morph into “shoulds” when we’re not looking.

    Susan

    • Beautiful comment–you’ve added to my enlightenment! “The Tyranny of the Possible” is exactly what it is (and what an evocative phrase).

      Thanks for commenting, Susan! Good to see you.

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