Every time I start a new project, I am terrified I will not be able to do it.
Every. Single. Time.
This terror is not my initial response. My first response is elation. Excitement. Passion. Thrill.
This is a delightful and short-lived phase of my process. Much sooner than I would like, the excitement and celebration morphs into abject doubt and fear.
Suddenly, I am overwhelmed by the work ahead of me. My mind makes it all seem like an enormous mountain that I am at the base of, seemingly without any equipment or wherewithal of how to surmount it. It is like some weird fog of “forgetting” comes over me and seduces me into believing that:
- I do not have any business embarking on this endeavor, and
- I do not have a clue as to how to do anything.
I am grateful to have a partner in life, my husband, who very fortunately has borne witness to my process over and over again. (He was actually the first person to point it out to me.)
While his reminder to me that this is “just a part of my process” does not in any way change my process, it does allow me to find somewhere within the knowing that “this too shall pass.” The knowing that this is not the end of my process. That this is actually letting me know, in a way, that I am on my way. As in, the fear and doubt kick in because I am entering into my creative process. It is a sign I am doing what I love.
That knowing makes moving through that phase a bit easier. Then I can recall, if need be, that I have felt this doubt and fear every time in the past. I can reference back and remember that every time in the past, I not only survived, but that I even succeeded in accomplishing what I took on in the end.
Awareness is everything, they say. That I have found to be true. If only awareness erased the anxiety! But I have found that only action alleviates the anxiety (to some degree.) I am lucky to have learned that as well.
My antidote to the fear and doubt is this: when it sets in, as it always will, I make sure to start the work right away. I begin the work NO MATTER WHAT, and as soon as possible, and I continue to work at it daily. I do it in chunks, and in this way, I navigate the treacherous waters of the part of me that wants to interfere with my creative endeavors.
The part of me that Steven Pressfield writes about valiantly fighting. If you are not familiar with his work, do yourself a favor and check him out. His books have been invaluable to me in my learning how to work with myself and my resistance.
And so I prevail. Not in spite of the resistance, but alongside it, through it, with it.
I am writing this as a reminder to myself as I have just begun a new project and after being very excited about it for a day or two, just about an hour ago, I got really scared and filled with doubt.
What the hell was I thinking? I cannot do THAT! I am not equipped. I cannot handle it. Reasons flood my mind as to why it was a bad idea. Dread filled my gut.
So what did I do? I took two actions in support of the project before I could fall into paralysis or start dreaming up ways to get myself out of the commitment. And I am writing this. And I am feeling somewhat better.
The jitters and the fear are still there, just waiting to take over. But for today, I have held them at bay and given more attention to my work. And somewhere in the mix I feel inside, there is a knowing.
After all, this is all just a part of my process. I am right where I supposed be.
The man who moved a mountain was the one who began carrying away small stones.
Ancient Chinese Proverb