Why I didn’t write *almost* any blog posts in 2018

I almost didn’t post any blog posts in 2018 despite feeling an intensely bothering itch to do so. It won’t be wrong if I say that I thought about it almost daily. I found myself giving in to the fears despite having wonderful things to share, amazing ideas to bring to life, having incredible stories to tell, share the insights and valuable lessons life has been teaching me all along, offer my support and encouragement in your journey… I didn’t. Maybe using the word ‘couldn’t’ would do much more justice in this sentence. I am very well aware that I had the choice, a choice to show up anyway and a choice to do nothing about it and look away, a choice to not make a choice at all and the realization that not making a choice is still a choice came just a little late to me. I guess, I opted for the later knowing unknowingly.

Why?

I am about to deconstruct it by your side.  I’m going to explore and share my experience of going through this crossroads and hopefully gain better insights into what needs my attention moving forward so I don’t find myself doing it again in 2019. I am sharing it in a hope to make you feel just a little less alone in your journey – if you yourself have had trouble in showing up in the best possible way you can but still couldn’t. This is my encouragement for you, there is still hope.

Are you still with me? I hope so. While working my way through this online endeavor over the course of 2018, I met incredible humans doing the most needed work in the world by showing up, sharing ideas, stories, wonderful creations, their art, and their insights and almost all of them had one thing in common, their experiences with resistance; internal or otherwise. In my case, mostly internal though.

I realized the biggest thing standing in our way is our own fragile self, destined to keep us safe.

Resistance shows up in many forms and ways, often disguised as something else. I was unable to name it as resistance until earlier this year. Reading ‘The War of Art’ and then ‘Do The Work’ helped me in not only naming it but also in understanding ways and patterns in which it shows up for me.

Whenever I thought about sitting down and penning down my thoughts, I ran into a feeling of discomfort and overwhelm. The kind of discomfort that you feel constantly but it is rather hard to point out. I thought I didn’t have anything interesting, worthy, valuable enough to share with the world. I constantly felt overwhelmed, overwhelmed because I thought the work I do, what I have to offer, what I have to say doesn’t matter. Even though I wholeheartedly believe that all of us have something awesome to share with the world. As the headline of this website of mine suggests,

‘I believe, you have something amazing to share with the world’

and I really do believe it to be true but somehow there is a part of me that I found standing against it and I needed to get to the root of it to be able to take that leap of faith. I know what this part of me is after. It is after my safety. It is trying its very best to protect me in ways familiar to it. It is stopping me from playing big so I don’t end up failing, hurting or lost in the aftermath.

I needed to have a conversation with it and ask for its (sort of) permission and (more of) support to take the next step. I didn’t want this part of me to decide for me how I choose to show up in the world, in my work and life. Do you recognize a similar very sincere part of you hidden somewhere deep within you that makes you play small so that you don’t end up embarrassing yourself?

Being able to understand it intellectually and being able to put your knowledge into practice in real life is totally different and way harder but not impossible. I comforted myself with the thought that learning to recognize and verbalize it is the first step and I dared *greatly* when I named it as resistance.

I let the thirst for learning more and learning new things stand in the way of how I was showing up. I labeled myself as someone who didn’t know enough which made me keep looking and searching for answers, going in circles on the internet, rabbit holes and back to square one. We all have been there quite often than we like to acknowledge. The truth is, we are capable of so much more than we ever give ourselves credit for. Committing to becoming a lifelong learner is the best possible gift you can give yourself but by letting it stand in the way you are showing up in your work and life, you are not only depriving yourself of wonderful growth that you are capable of by honing in your craft, by practicing on daily basis but you are also robbing the world of your gifts and the contribution of your unique way of perceiving things.

I needed proof that I was worthy enough and knowledgeable enough before I positioned myself as a creative coach even though I knew in my heart deep down, I was always meant to be one. I was a creative before anything else and I spent more than 9 years after graduating (as a Product Designer) building on my skills in the corporate design world before finally choosing to say goodbye and follow my heart. I participated in courses that I thought would give me that validation. I shared about the courses and what I learned from them here. In a way, it was a great choice to invest in myself but I came to a realization that you maybe don’t need anyone else telling you what will work the best for you as there is no one solution that fits all. You are the best judge of what you need in whatever season of life you are in.

Most often the things we long to hear from others are the things we need to give ourselves.

In this case, it was validation. Learning to develop confidence and trust in your abilities and what you are capable of is a choice that only you can make and no one else can make that choice for you.

From my very own experience of going through design school, I can say our school systems are built on metrics to make us fit in. As an artist, your job is to stand out, make the crowd pause for a moment, just for a moment to make your point across whatever medium of expression you choose to show up in, be it a painting or a beautifully crafted blog post. We are conditioned to validate how much we are knowledgeable by counting how much did we score in our tests and how many degrees we scored while working our way through those school systems. It is far complex than I was able to portray through a couple of these sentences. I most certainly let that need to have a recognized coaching degree, that external validation that I am good enough to be a coach stand in my way before I could start showing up.

After struggling through this for more than a year, I have finally come to a realization that maybe I’ve got it all wrong. I can choose to show up, help creatives like myself by sharing my journey and insights and I don’t have to be a certified ‘expert’ to do that. I just need to be open about my experiences and what I am learning from them.

If you are letting this kind of external validation stand in your way, I encourage you to start unpacking it. You become better at something, anything by choosing to do it, by showing up and by practicing it on an on-going daily basis without any excuses. By no means I am suggesting that you are making excuses, all I am saying is, you are the best judge of knowing when you are making any excuses and when you genuinely are in need of gentle hand-holding to guide your way through and out of it.

I was convinced that I need to have all the answers in front of me before I even take the plunge. I waited and waited for the clarity of thought to come so I could start hitting publish. I need to know who is it that I’m trying to write for and who is it exactly that I’m trying to connect. I kept looking for answers thinking that I need to know first who am I writing for instead of focusing on why I want to write. This experience of feeling stuck, almost paralyzed, frozen to death to take any kind of meaningful action, an action that would lead to a better understanding of my why; why I want to do something instead of who I want to do it for. The motivation that you need to keep going, moving mountains, overcoming obstacles that might come your way comes from your very own reason for choosing to do whatever it is that you are trying to work towards.

This doesn’t suggest that it’s okay to be blind about the people you are here to connect. This only suggests its an on-going ever-evolving process and not set in stone. You possibly can’t get ahead of the line without climbing all the steps. The grind of the process is what is going to bring you the clarity that you require but do not mistake that need for clarity as a reason to stay in one place forever and not move ahead at all. Writing down my manifesto helped a lot in gaining the clarity I was longing for. I suggest you give it a try if this is something you are longing for too.

I was too hard on myself to be perfect, have it all together, try and test before sharing, be an expert and experts are not allowed to make mistakes. Ah, the perfectionist in me. I have no idea how I got this false belief so deep-rooted in me that experts don’t make mistakes, aren’t allowed to make mistakes or there is no room for making mistakes. I don’t even remember when I picked it up and held this close to me, close enough to make me blind to see its existence. Everything that I read led me to question this very belief. I learned that I’m not entitled to success and not everything is going to work out. It is okay if something doesn’t work out. In fact, it is great if it doesn’t work out as it teaches you valuable lessons that you’ll not stumble upon otherwise. When I look back, I can recall all the moments I thought I had lost it, the worst experiences of life, the terrible realities, they all taught me incredible lessons about myself, my capabilities, my resilience, and my strength. They made me who I am today. They played a much bigger role in shaping up my personality than any successes that I ever had in life.

An important lesson that I want to share with you in the most compassionate way possible, embrace failure with an open heart. You are not entitled to success and making your dreams true. None of us are. All great artists that you know of, took incredible risks. You can try, give it your best shot and see what comes to the surface but there are no guarantees. It might work, it might not but you’ll never know if you’ll never try. It’s plain simple hard work, actually, smart work. If you have a deeply embedded desire to grow as a creative, the very first realization you’ll come across is learning to embrace the process. It might or mightn’t work. Learn to embrace it. That’s the beauty of it.

I let the expectations I had when I first started to ruin the momentum. In fact, never letting the momentum to build. I found myself afraid of commitment, a commitment that I will not be able to fulfill and I will let people down. While writing this I realized it was more about pleasing people and the fear of letting them down that stood in the way of me making a tangible commitment and following through. A reality check: you can’t possibly make everyone happy. You will always fall short if this is what you are after. I learned this a long time ago but somehow had forgotten about it. Consider this as a gentle reminder if like me you needed to hear it too.

It’s finally time to talk about the inner critic. The inner critic in me… I kept doubting, re-editing, censoring and second guessing myself. We all have an inner critic and I allowed mine to define how I show up in my work and life by not showing up at all.

Sometimes we don’t make a choice deliberately to avoid facing the consequences that might follow for making one but at those times we forget that not making a choice is still a choice.

Often times, we choose one that we find ourselves most comfortable with. It was easy to doubt myself as it seems like a default setting in my brain but it is oh so hard to learn to trust myself and to find the courage to dare greatly. I was scared to play big so I opted for playing small, hiding and never taking a risk big enough that will make me come out of my own shell or would make me play big but this is not how I want to show up in the world. I have found that knowing what I don’t want helps me identify what I really want. I want to be courageous, dare greatly and see what I can bring to the table.

For 2019, my word is ‘courage’. I am sharing what inspired me, what it represents and means to me and how I am planning to cultivate and embrace it moving forward here.

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  • Hira, did you read Playing Big by Tara Mohr? Helped me tons on my journey. And another thought- what if you put your regular practice that you’re struggling with aside for a bit and pick up something else that might spark creative energy? Might be a way to trick the block so to speak. Rooting for you! 💛

    • Maria, I haven’t but I’m going to. 💙 Thank you for sharing. While I was deconstructing these fears, I landed on a realization that it is not a place to stay and I have a better understanding of how I can rewrite the story and change the narrative. I plan to focus more on honing in the art and not the fears.

  • totally loved the article. Plus it was as if I read all what I have been through since always and I overcame it last year Alhamdulillah, and your words were helping me a lot to overcome.

    • I believe it is an on-going process and an unavoidable part of the creative journey. I’m glad to be of help on your journey.

  • Loved every word of it. I think I have been going through the same ordeal when it comes to writing something. No critic ever says that artist should not have made something altogether, right? Failures or faults help you refine your art. Perfection is meant to be pursued, not achieved. After all, what would you do afterwards, if you managed to achieve it :P.

    • Your comment made my day. I read something somewhere about ‘The Gap’, a gap between you are and where you expect yourself to be as an artist and it takes years to overcome that gap. I guess I was feeling discouraged by that gap and sort of impatient to get there already.
      ‘Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.’ – Salvador Dali
      It is easier said than done, Sam.

  • This is exactly what I have been going through and keep telling myself of letting things go and starting fresh and do whatever I feel like and be good at it.

    Totally relate to this post!

    • Sumreen, I am glad it resonated you. As you said, doing the work, honing in your art makes the difference and you eventually become good at it. I hope this insight helps you in your journey.

  • Sumbal Tasawwar says:

    – Even if you write less, you always remind me of how similar your struggles are to mine and that I’m not alone. Thank you for this post 🙂

  • Oh gosh this speaks to me so much, this part especially:

    “I needed proof that I was worthy enough and knowledgeable enough before I positioned myself as a creative coach even though I knew in my heart deep down, I was always meant to be one.”

    I have slowly been realising myself doing exactly the same thing this year, being too scared, too fearful that what I had to offer wasn’t enough and constantly seeking approval elsewhere. I guess the question is how do you start to find approval within and what is the best way to fight the fear?

    I have felt so paralysed this past year because I don’t know what I want to do, even though there is a small part of me that knows I can do more.

    Thanks for sharing this and helping me realise it’s not just me going through this. I decided my word for 2019 would be “vulnerability” as a way of fighting my fear and letting myself lean into the worries. I can’t wait to see youcontinue your journey!

    Best,
    Giulia (mycitynotes on Instagram)

    • Giulia, thank you for sharing your thoughts and leaving such a thoughtful comment. I understand how it can be paralyzing wondering if you are on the right path or not and what is it that you want the most.

      One thing that I have learned after digging deep into what’s stopping me – Figuring out is an important step but don’t stay there rather focus on honing in your art instead of focusing on your fears. I hope that helps.

      I sent out a letter just today to the Newsletter community about this very afterthought. If you are interested in reading send me a DM and I will share the link with you. ‘Vulnerability’ is a great place to start and as Brene Brown suggests courage comes from a place of vulnerability. It seems we are on a quite similar journey here and I am looking forward to seeing you grow.