I’ve sat down to write a post no less than 20 times over the past 3 months. It’s almost comical how many open tabs I currently have in Chrome beginning with the titles like “5 steps I have taken to…”, “The best 3 ways…”, and “The most effective methods for…”
I’ve been told ad nauseum from business coaches, blogging courses, insta stories, and facebook webinars for fearless female entrepreneurs that using numbers draws readers in. Giving individuals a simple guide to follow based on your experiences will guarantee readers and clients. Creating a sense of scarcity is crucial so that people are compelled to act quickly for programs, coaching, or collaboration. These are some of the “rules” I was following despite not feeling the least bit connected to them. I would type a few sentences, stare, check my phone, type maybe 2-3 more, find another distraction, rinse, and repeat. I felt like an unproductive, procrastinating, passionless robot. I was trying to fit a square peg (in the form of me, Paige, a woman who loves to write stylistically and with almost brutal honesty about the issues I face) into a round hole (in the form of “guaranteed methods for success” which included but were not limited to the methods shared above). These methods work well for plenty of people, but clearly they weren’t a fit for me. That being said, I was sure as hell going to push as hard as I could while blindly disregarding the obvious. It’s the only way my old habits and beliefs would have it.
Such is the plight of the recovering perfectionist. We try to be perfect at the process of letting go of perfectionism. Then we are frustrated and borderline offended by our lack of progress. Logical, right??
I needed a good slap across the face, figuratively of course. I had a moment of clarity after many months of existing in a thick fog of anxiety, fear, and disappointment over my lack of forward progress. It became painfully apparent that I’ve been hiding behind the guise of strategy and practicality when the truth is that I am afraid.
I am tired, I am lonely, and I am afraid.
There’s my truth, out there for the world to see. I anticipate a massive vulnerability hangover tomorrow when I wake up and realize I posted this. It wasn’t just a dream after my usual anxiety inducing nightmare likely spurred on by an addiction to murder related shows and documentaries. Hi, my name is Paige, and I am an SVU-aholic. I have been sober for maybe 24 hours. Maybe. #stablerandbensonforever
Back to that moment of clarity that I mentioned…
I was recently visiting my family in Houston and I sat down for coffee with a friend I haven’t seen since we graduated high school. I will soon be 34 so that was almost half a lifetime ago, a fact that we laughed about over our iced lattes (it was already in the 90s in our gulf coast hometown). The reason we got in touch is because my mother asked me to stop by her family's house to drop off a large pot of vegetable soup. Again, it was in the 90s so I made one of my standard snarky comments regarding the absurdity of dropping off a hot meal. Nice one, mom! Only the joke was on me. My friend’s parents had both been diagnosed with cancer, one of them with stage IV.
We have the type of friendship that allows for over a decade to pass and yet the conversation picks up as if we’ve only spent weeks apart. We knew each other through the awkward years. We know each other’s families in an intimate way that you can never truly grasp with those friends you meet as an adult. We saw behind the curtain, felt the tension when things were difficult, celebrated joyful life events, and forever became a part of the childhood years that set the foundation for who we are as adults (although I sometimes still feel like an 11 year old pretending to be all grown up). To hear that this family was facing the ultimate trial of strength was heartbreaking.
We sipped our lattes, we shared stories about our first shitty apartments after college, we opened up about the struggles we’ve faced, and we even shed a few tears conveniently masked behind our RayBans in the Texas sun. We were being raw and real. We created a space between us that felt safe to just be, and it snapped me out of my obsessive, inauthentic trance.
I swore when I started sharing my story that I’d always be honest, and I’ve thus far managed to do so. I believe the reason I couldn’t find the words to share on my blog lately is because I wasn’t speaking my truth. Why??? That was something I needed to think over. Which I did. While drinking several more lattes from the comfort of an air conditioned room this time.
So here goes…
I’m tired. I moved to New York which has always been one of my dreams, but when I arrived I questioned my decision. I often feel like I wake up, shower, walk to work, work, walk home, watch Netflix or type a few words in one of my countless open blog post tabs, and go back to sleep. The days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months. I’ve now been here for almost 6 months and much of that time is a blur. It makes me sad to think that I am living in one of the most amazing cities on Earth and yet I don’t wake up with the passion to explore it. When I have a moment to breathe I typically want to sleep or distract myself with something mind numbing. I’ve also turned to wine much more than I care to admit.
I’m lonely. The most perplexing thing I have found about New York is that despite being the most densely populated city in the US, I have never felt more alone. I have less personal space than I have ever had in my life, and yet I feel detached. The loneliness has triggered old feelings including low self-worth, body negativity, and a longing to belong.
I’m afraid. I am scared that if I write the words that flow from me in the style that comes naturally to me that no one will read my work. No one will want to work with me. No one will respect me. No one will be inspired to face their own issues.
I paused to process these feelings and focus on my mindset since the move. I have the tools and the self-awareness to work through these feelings (something that was not the case 5 years ago), but my mindset has been doused with fear and set ablaze into an anxiety ridden firestorm. I have doubted myself at every turn because of my lifelong fear of not being in control instead of trusting in my work and letting go of the outcome. From here on out, I will not subscribe to more strategies that aren’t aligned. My story, whether it resonates with 1 person or 1 million people, will be shared in my own words.
My new mindset will be soaked in gratitude.
I am tired, but sharing my story gives me strength because I know somehow that it will help others. I trust that knowingness.
I am lonely, but I am getting the opportunity to get to know myself in a way that was never before possible.
I am afraid, but this fear assures me that my dreams are waiting on the other side. I just have to work through the fear, not hide from it.
If you’re feeling like you’ve taken 1 step forward and 2 steps back, you are not alone. If you question the decisions you’ve made, you are not alone. If you know that you should not wear a mask for the world around you but you struggle to take it off, you are definitely not alone. You simply have to check in with yourself, determine what your blocks are to living authentically, and face them with grace and self-compassion.