“You are perfect. To think anything less is as pointless as a river thinking that it’s got too many curves or that it moves too slowly or that its rapids are too rapid. Says who? You’re on a journey with no defined beginning, middle or end. There are no wrong twists and turns. There is just being. And your job is to be as you as you can be. This is why you’re here. To shy away from who you truly are would leave the world you-less. You are the only you there is and ever will be. I repeat, you are the only you there is and ever will be. Do not deny the world its one and only chance to bask in your brilliance.”
(Jen Sincero, "You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life")
So a trusted friend recently told me that I might be lacking in confidence.
From the outside it often looks like I have got it all together: I am a teacher of young people and love nothing better than holding a mirror up to my students to show them their brilliance; I regularly post new art work up on social media with no apologies for the continual saturation of my images and I have plans and dreams for the future and talk about them to whoever will listen. And I am relatively poor in pocket but rich in spirit and try and focus on the latter when I get too down about the former.
But my friend was right.
I have some learning to go through when it comes to ACTUAL confidence in myself. Working with students I often find it easier to shine a light on them (as that's my job after all). I always walk away feeling ten foot tall after those classes where students "get it" and sink into their own selves with new found confidence. But when it comes to my own life and my own dreams (although I nut out at them every day), my self talk is not always positive. I try, but I often miss the mark. I'm too this or too that or I perhaps I really don't deserve to have this or experience that and I guess my lot in life is just this etc etc etc. I have my good days but I also have the days when it's all just a bit too hard.
Perhaps you know what I'm talking about. Perhaps you too have these self flagellating talks? The self doubt?
My friend pointed me in the direction of a book called "You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life" by Jen Sincero. I have to admit I am not a fan of reading self help books. I always start with good intentions but get bored and frustrated too easily and go back to reading my fantasy novels where I can lose myself.
Hmmm. Interesting turn of phrase.
There's a time a place to lose yourself (and I will continue to read fantasy novels and enjoy every moment of it).
But there's also a time and place to find yourself.
And THIS I have decided is the time to find myself. To move up to the next level of self awareness and harness the power of being to really find true confidence and pave out the awesome life I know that I want to live.
So I am reading this book.
Actually it's the second time I am reading it.
The first time was a couple of months ago. I got about ten pages in and thought "This is too hard, where's that book where the maiden is a kick butt sword fighter?"
And I closed it. And went back to my maiden-slaying-the-dragon tale.
But it's been sitting there at the back of my mind that I need to make some changes within myself.
So a week ago I went back to the book.
And lo and behold this time it's resonating.
I'm reading it slowly, letting all the words and concepts infiltrate in a day to day way. I don't normally read slowly. I'm a speed reader (I did a course when I was eleven and it stuck).
This time though... no speeding.
Purposely reading every page at a slower pace.
And I'm letting myself be a glorious work in progress as I go.
I haven't nearly finished the book yet.
But I will continue to be open to it and continue to read it and just go on this adventure.
And in between the pages I am taking time to write down personal affirmations. And to draw words that I want to infiltrate into my life and into my work.
Here is a video I made on the weekend of me drawing the word LOVE:
It was the first time I have ever made a time lapse video of me drawing. The video shows what I drew during my lunch break. It's interesting to see the seeming confidence in my hand when time speeds up. My hand knows what to do and enjoys the process of just taking the pen for a twisty, curly kind of walk across the paper.
That night I finished the drawing.
I added in more line work and then immediately regretted it.
"That was too much! Why didn't you just follow the grey lead pencil you had underneath? There's too many curls and leaves now!! Ahhh! It's just too much. I'M just always too much!"
Then I stopped. I realised the negative/self doutb path of thinking I was going down was not helping at all.
So I allowed myself to stop thinking and closed the sketchbook and listened to music for the rest of the night.
The next morning I opened my sketch book and found that I actually really liked what I had added. I actually LIKED the extra line work my hand confidently decided to add in.
All that initial negative thinking was just a waste of brain power.
Good thing I stopped when I did and let myself be immersed in music.
I thought: what if I applied this to the rest of my life?
So yesterday I decided to make some music. I wouldn't call myself a musician as such - more of a lover of music and an avid in-the-car-in-the-shower singer. Last year I bought myself a ukulele to have as a sing-a-long instrument. It's relatively easy to play the basic chords and after a few months of playing my novelty uke I decided to upgrade and buy myself a non-novelty instrument. I had a fantastic summer playing and learning new songs. But I haven't picked it up in earnest in almost six months. So I took it out of it's case and let my voice just sing what it wanted to sing. I ended up singing "Smile" (music by Charlie Chaplin) and started thinking about my network of friends and those who really could use extra love and energy in their lives right now. So without thinking, I hit record on my laptop and made a video. And hit upload to my Facebook page.
I then let it go for a few hours while I played my little heart out and just enjoyed having a Sunday music sesh.
When I checked on my Facebook a while later I had over 25 beautiful comments from friends. And at last check about 75 likes! No one said I was "too much". No one said I sung out of key.
People actually thanked me.
Thanked me! For singing my heart out!
So here is the video (again, posting it without letting my thoughts go down any negative track).
There is a powerful lesson here for me.
I am letting it sink deep into my being today as I prepare to go and teach a public speaking class to young people.
Wherever you are when you read this give yourself permission to speak of yourself with love. You are the gardener of your thoughts. You can choose what you propagate and what you weed out.