I feel like I’ve been waiting all my life. I waited for my mom to get well, but she never did. After she died, I thought everything would be okay. Her mental illness had been the source of chaos after all. It didn’t get better.
I waited for my dad to realize that I mattered and I spent the twenty years after my mom died trying to prove my worth to him. He never saw it.
At the same time, my sister started living with a guy who was emotionally abusive. I tried to be there for her and help her, but she wouldn’t take my help. She stayed until she was completely broken and then spent several years learning how to heal herself. Her teenage daughter came to live with me. She needed stability and to get through high school. She’s all grown up now, my sister has found her groove, and Dad died in February and guess what? Yep. I’m still waiting.
I have no one else to use as an excuse anymore. It’s all me now. Here’s what waiting looks like now:
- I’m waiting too long for people to return my calls before I call them back. Don’t want to be a bother.
- I’m waiting until I take enough classes to feel like I’m worthy of taking small design jobs. Maybe even art jobs (eek!), but that’s way in the future.
- I’m until I take an illustration class before I start writing the book that’s been gestating in my head for the past four years.
- I’m waiting to take a painting class, even though I have the paints and I can paint any time I want.
- I’m waiting until I have time to sit down and relearn to play the piano that I HAD to have because I missed playing piano. (I have time.)
- I’m waiting until I move to a new city to practice my photography skills because I’m tired of looking at the same stuff day after day, though if I tried, I’m sure I could find something new to see here. I just don’t wanna.
I’ve been waiting so long to give myself permission to do what I want to do that I don’t know what to do with the freedom.
In my defense, Abraham Hicks tells us that we can’t expect a train going a hundred miles per hour in one direction to turn around and go a hundred miles per hour in the other direction all at once. The train has too much momentum and “it would be hard on the contents of the train.” I have forty years of “waiting” momentum to slow down before I can head off in the other direction. I think I’ve got it slowed down, but now I’m idling at the train station and I’m not exactly sure how to get it going again.
Recently, I’ve noticed this word popping up on social media: hustle. A number of artists, athletes, and entrepreneurs I follow use the word a lot. Hustle is pursuing your passion with gusto. While I’m not as intense as entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, I wholeheartedly agree with his definition of hustle. Gary says that hustle is “putting it all on the line […] putting all your effort into the goal at hand.” (Check out GaryVee on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL91-bUf7iI) Apparently, hustle is a new concept to me. I’ve always believed that people either got things or they didn’t. I believed that if you had talent, someone would recognize it and give you the means by which you could achieve your dreams or at least encourage you and guide you along the way. I’ve been waiting all my life for someone to recognize my worth so that I could start pursuing my goals. Funny thing is, people can’t support you if you don’t know what you want. I think I was also waiting for someone to tell me what my passion was, too. However, most people are too busy pursuing their own passions to care too much about anyone else’s. That means, it’s all up to me (sad face) and it’s all up to me (yay face). I don’t have to wait for someone to give me permission to do what I want to do.
There’s another part of hustle that’s just as important as hard work and that is vulnerability. Vulnerability is “putting it all on the line.” Or as Brené Brown says, it’s allowing yourself to be seen. I want to be seen–badly–but with years of waiting comes years of standing at the back of the room trying to be invisible. Old habits are hard to break, but someone showed me that vulnerability was what people really want from you.
A few years ago, I was drawn to the blog of a bicycle builder who also happened to be an amazing photographer and chef. Everything he did was a work of art. He started blogging as a way to update friends and family on his battle with cancer. His blog was different than most. It was so self-effacing and rarely did he complain or feel sorry for himself. He wrote about his day, how he was feeling, and what he was working on. He was just a dude writing a blog, who also happened to have cancer. He took a daily self-portrait, no matter how horrible he felt or how bad he looked. He took photos of his scars and his colostomy bag and told us of the mishaps he had draining things. It wasn’t very pretty sometimes. This guy was the very definition of vulnerable, yet he was the most courageous person I had ever encountered. He taught me that vulnerable didn’t mean weak. In fact, he showed me that vulnerability was extremely brave. He also taught me to do what I loved with wholehearted abandon and to love fiercely no matter what, because in the end, that’s all there is. He lost the battle with cancer, but I’m sure his only regret was having to leave so soon. I’m certainly sad that he did.
I have no neat little tie up at the end of this post. No wise words to give you about overcoming the wait, because I’m still working on it, but I’m gathering a little momentum. I’m writing more. I’m drawing. I’m not waiting for people to call me or respond to me. I’m demanding–in a nice way–the answers to my questions. I’m not relying on classes to teach me the skills I need to design or paint or do illustrations. Everything I need to know is on YouTube. I’m done waiting. I have no more excuses and that’s the scariest part, because now it’s all on me. It’s my turn. Now what?
Post script: I watched an interview today between Marie Forleo (www.marieforleo.com) and Seth Godin (www.sethgodin.com), both brilliant entrepreneurs and marketing gurus. One of the topics up for discussion, appropriately enough, was not waiting for the right moment to begin. Seth publishes a blog post daily and he thinks everyone should do the same. Not only does it get you in the habit of producing work, but the more you write, the more clear your focus becomes. I don’t know where this blog is going, but I’m going to take his advice and publish daily. Not every post will be profound, but I hope it will be interesting. I might even put up an image or two.
Post post script: Sorry to name drop so much, but these people really inspire me and I thought you might find them interesting, too.