I think a huge part of learning to trust yourself is celebrating where you’ve been and how far you’ve come. You cannot change where you’ve been, but you can use it to steer you where you’re going. For instance, yesterday I had the immense privilege of attending an afternoon masterclass and evening lecture led by world-renowned composer Eric Whitacre. If you aren’t familiar with his work, you should find a way to become familiar with his work, because it’s some of the most beautiful music in the universe (check out his TED Talk Virtual Choir performance — you will be blown away)!
He spoke of his journey into music and composing. He couldn’t read sheet music until college when he joined a choir for the first time. He got into Julliard for graduate studies based on merit and composition skill alone in his mid-twenties. He told us he didn’t truly accept and embrace his vocation as a composer until he was in his 30s. I, too, feel like I’m finally reaching a point as I near age 30 where I am done fighting who it is I feel I am supposed to be in my heart. I spent my 20s trying to prove to someone, anyone (probably mostly myself) that I “could do it!!!” whatever that meant. I wish I’d arrived at this point sooner, but this calling of embracing my full and unique creativity and helping others embrace theirs had to find me the way it found me. No other way would do. I want you to look at yourself and what you love, what makes your heart sing, and I want you to give yourself permission now to celebrate that you’ve gotten to a place where you are finding out what that is and how to do more of it.
CALMING ACTION STEP: Take a moment now, close your eyes, and think back 5 years. Start with: how old were you? What were you looking for more of in your life? Where has your path taken you since then? Breathe deeply and celebrate–you kept going, you champion you! If you have a small sheet of paper and a pen near you, take a moment now to write 2 or 3 sentences to yourself from 5 years ago. Congratulate the person you were on becoming the person you are! I imagine you’ve come farther than you think. I’ll share my letter with you below.
Dear Katie from 5 years ago,
Hey, it’s me! Guess what? We’ll be 30 in four months–can you believe it?? The chapter of our life that was “our twenties” is coming to a close. Don’t be afraid, because this is a great thing. I wanted to take a moment and look back to you, so we can celebrate everything amazing you’ll do in the next 5 years.
Right now you are 24, almost 25. A lot is about to change. In a month’s time you will be moving home again, something you never imagined you would do. It will be the best thing for you, but you will feel like a failure. Don’t. You are putting so much pressure on your 20s and your “success”. The good news? You will learn to let that go. Other people’s accomplishments next to yours do not define your worth. You are on your own path, and it’s a good path. Right now you are constantly anxious, overwhelmed with fear and uncertainty about your parents’ health, and your career, and everything you think you’re not doing. Please believe me when I say you’ll be blown away by what the next 5 years will bring you.
- You will fall in love. You will be scared to say yes to it, and it WILL be a rollercoaster, but you will find it isn’t nearly as scary as you thought it’d be. In fact, it’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to you!
- You’ll find that your voice is worthy of being heard too. That you’ve had the knowledge all along to bring to the table. Trust yourself. Trust your process. Don’t pull away and convince yourself it’s all impossible. Don’t wait for permission. You already know the answers.
- You will go through frustrating periods where you feel like you aren’t moving forward. You ARE, whether or not you feel you are holding too tight to the sameness and safety of your childhood home.
- You do not need to worry about what everyone else thinks. You must stop hiding. I know it feels safe to isolate yourself against the universe, but you are not as lost as your brain has led you to believe. You will find your way through.
- The most amazing new friends are going to come into your life, and your circle of family and friends will continue to grow in ways you cannot imagine.
- You will wish more than once that you could go back to college, to that magical network of friends and choir and theater, but (I know you don’t want to hear this) it’s okay that it’s over. You get to design your life now.
- If you don’t want to do something, if it feels wrong for you in your gut and heart and soul, then give yourself a pass.
- You are so afraid. Tired. Embarrassed. Unsure. Exhausted. You’re really good at hiding it, but you will remember you don’t need to, and with the help of an amazing therapist and wonderful psychiatrist, you will come back to yourself again.
- It will be a challenge, but keep learning new things. Keep loving with your heart open. Trust your WHOLE self, your delightful inner child to your lost 20-something. Love. Trust. If you do nothing else, love and trust yourself more every single moment of every single day. You are worthy of that. Practice it whenever you can.
- Love your laugh, smile, body, humor, stuffed animal collection. Everything that makes you YOU! It will be the best thing you ever do for yourself (instead of listening only to the voices of anxiety and depression).
- You are so much more than just one thing. You owe yourself credit in all areas of your life. You are a wonder, my dear. You don’t know it yet, but it’s deep down within you. Keep breathing and keep moving forward.
I hope your letter brings you clarity, even if you aren’t exactly where you want to be just yet (and don’t worry, none of us are). Share your note in the comments below–and don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss creating your Calming Creativity Manifesto next week.
Keep being brave!