PODCAST: ON SABBATICALS, IDENTITY, SPIRITUALITY AND PERMISSION TO CHANGE
…AND WOMEN All AROUND THE WORLD SIGH #MeToo
When I was a child, I was a math kid through and through.
Numbers were my thing. No one could solve an equation quicker than me. Words, though? Words were my weakness. And I don’t mean that in the romantic sense, I mean I was terrible with words; inept. My high school English teacher would fall of her chair if she ever found out I’m now a writer. (Pretty sure she thought I was lazy and untalented)
For YEARS I believed I wasn’t good at English.
I failed the exams (literally – in my first college class I got a big fat F) and developed a story that “I wasn’t an English person, I was a Math person.” So I avoided it. I skipped classes thinking it was a waste of my time – what did it matter if I was a math major anyway?
My school papers were full of grammatical black holes. I didn’t know how to string two sentences together without violating a hundred rules.
But, you know….
Everyone as “that book” that changed their life.
Or at least every writer does.
When I migrated from the UK to the US in my teens, I had no friends and a LOT of time on my hands, so decided to see what this “whole reading thing” was all about.
It was the first time I opened a book and read it cover to cover without being bored out my mind.
I wasn’t bored at all. I was amazed.
Something finally clicked.
The author’s voice was loud in my mind. Her words moved inside of me, awaking parts of myself that I didn’t know existed. I discovered beliefs I didn’t know I had; pain I didn’t know I masked; desire I wanted to explore. When I put the book down, one thought dominated my mind:
I WANT TO BE A WRITER.
To learn whatever witchcraft and magic lay in those pages. To time travel and whisper in people’s minds like literary telepathy. I had never been more sure about anything in my life, and it happened just like that. Inconvenient considering how bad I was at writing.
So I made the decision to get better. To go from dysfunctional to someone who can least clearly express their ideas. It took years of practice. And changing my degree. The first 50 essays I wrote were awful. Red marks all over the place.
I worried I made a horrible mistake giving up something I was naturally good at (math) for something I struggled to be competent in. But a stubborn desire kept me going.
I still have that desire and still write lots of awful things. I want to be able to do for people what that writer did for me.
Benjamin Hardy wrote in his recent articles that people who don’t believe they can do something have what psychologists call a “fixed” mindset. He says “These people have been over-sold on the idea of having a domineering “identity” that cannot change. Nature is god and nothing can be nurtured”.
Over-sold on the idea of having a domineering identity.
I see how close I came (and come) to having a fixed mindset… that “why learn if I don’t believe I can actually learn and evolve?”
That question, man.
It’s the devil on our shoulder. Yours, mine.
It’s SO HARD to believe we can achieve something when we’re at the bottom of the ladder. Or sitting at rock bottom in a dark cave with no light in sight. It’s a longggggggg way up. (You can almost hear the echo, right?)
We need faith.
Not necessarily in the religious sense. But faith that our desire is worth acknowledging and faith that we have the ability to make it happen, even if its a long way up and we have a long way to go.
This was written as part of #my500words