So, I did a thing.
Those of you who have been reading this for awhile already know about this thing. Those who know me in person absolutely know about this thing, and may wish that I’d just shut up about it already.
I wrote a novel!
See, here is the thing. I’ve spent my whole life thinking that I should write a novel. That if I just did write a novel, it would be great. But I didn’t.
Why? Because while a part of me thought that a novel I did write would be great, a differet part of me thought that I couldn’t actually do it. No idea was quite good enough. This was a case of my confidence on the big picture being overly enthusiastic while my lack of confidence on the small stuff kept me from ever doing it. And the latter turned out to be more of a problem.
I think we all have that little voice. It isn’t shouting at us about how we are utterly without worth. It lets us see that there are things we probably could do, if only we… .
If only we were in better shape, we could do that marathon.
If only our nose were a bit smaller, we could be a model.
If only we had a better speaking voice, we could get that part in our community theatre group.
If only we made more money, we could get the attention of that nice looking person over there.
If only we were more organised, we could put a proposal before our boss and get the promotion.
If only I had better ideas, I could write a book.
Here’s the thing. That voice is a jerk. That voice does not have your best interests in mind. Those “if only” whispers? They’re lies. Okay, sure, there’s not much you can do about the shape of your nose without resorting to drastic means, but.. maybe you don’t have to.
The “if only” voice is capable of lying to you on two fronts. First, it may be presenting you with goals that you may not actually want. Not always, of course. I actually did want to write a book. But I may not want that hot guy. That promotion it’s talking to you about may not be the actual position you’d be happiest in. That voice can, and does, provide you with a false goal that is not only wildly implausible, but may not make you happy.
Then, it presents you with the stumbling block, and this is where it gets you. This is the part where it tells you that you’re not good enough to get the shiny prize. It wears away at your confidence in what you can do by pointing out what you can’t do, what you don’t have. We all have flaws. Some, we can get rid of with work, and some we can’t. That voice doesn’t want you to think about how to either rid yourself of or overcome those flaws, though. It wants you to focus on just having them. And, let me repeat this, it is lying to you.
Maybe you don’t have a speaking voice that sounds like some sort of angellic bell, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t act. Distinct can be better than generically clear for some roles.
Maybe you’re not making much money, but do you actually want the sort of partner that cares enough about that to turn you down because of it, or do you want the sort of partner whose goals align with yours who will work with you to get there?
Maybe the reason you can’t get a proposal properly together for that promotion is because it isn’t an area that your talent should be put in. Maybe you really should be in an entirely different department where you’ll find the work actually rewarding.
Maybe you’re not in the sort of shape that would let you run that half marathon, but if you start with small, manageable goals, you can get there. If you actually want to, and are not simply focusing on it because others have done it.
If onlies don’t want you to think like that. If onlies want you to focus on what is holding you back, not on what could move you forward.
If onlies told me that I didn’t have good ideas. They lied. I simply didn’t have the right idea yet, but because of them, when the right idea did come along it took me six months to get past the years of thinking that any idea of mine couldn’t be a novel. Sadly, I had some ideas over those years that probably were good enough. Perhaps I’ll remember them some day.
What are your if onlies telling you? Figure it out, and challenge them. Find the lie.
Tell your if onlies to shut up, already.
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