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trusting our magic
giving myself permission to fail and try again.
“Would you ever say that to your daughters?” uttered my therapist, as I recoiled with embarrassment about how long had passed since I sent out a newsletter, despite missing writing. The truth is that this has been a common occurrence throughout my life. Leaving projects half done, pouring water on my spark midway through because I lose faith in myself. I start fearing no one cares, or worse—that it doesn't matter. When I carve out time to work on my art I fear I’m being selfish. When I don’t do it, I dread being seen as “flakey.” It never ends.
My inner critic’s voice—let’s call her Beth—has been a looming companion that awakens consistently every time I dive into my magic and feel the urge to create things. Beth seems to be a common phenomenon for artists everywhere, showing up uninvited to berate one’s work mid-process and then sitting there to watch us not finish, until we give up and she lends a hand to clean up the space. This feeling parallels the wave of mom guilt we’ve been warned to expect, which wells up uneasily as soon as we dare to act any differently from the expectation set upon us. Beth loves to surf this wave too, of course.
“No! No, I would never tell my daughters they shouldn’t try again.” I told her, unaware that saying this out loud would soon ignite an inner revolution. Feelings old and new have bubbled up since. Growing up I was often encouraged to tone myself down. Sing, but not loudly. Draw, but not professionally. Think, but do not disagree. Any time I wanted to pursue something that was far from my family’s comfort zone I had to do it perfectly, or not at all. I needed to prove without doubt that making my own path was ultimately the correct choice. And so I’ve learned to tie it all up into a pretty bow. My words, my art, and I had to be perfect or I would be wasting my time and everyone else’s. But motherhood is messy, you know? So these past 2 years I have been slowly unwrapping those layers. I’ve been constantly trying, and failing, to escape the perfectionism trap. It’s not easy to let go of the comfort that not taking a shot provides us. You can’t fail this way. And as I have contemplated this state of being for far too long, I have had to face the fact that I do not behave this way with anyone I love. Actually, I’m usually that one friend that pushes others to put themselves out there and repeat to them ad-nauseam that the journey is worth the risk. Yet, I wince when someone compliments my work and often put myself down by pointing out all the mistakes I can see at any given moment.
In the journey of trusting more deeply in our magic, all kinds of painful stories are likely to arise. The times we failed, the times we got lost and the times we felt shame as a result. Still, I look back at that discomfort and can only see big leaps that have taken me to where I am today. I know wholeheartedly that it has been all worth it.
So today I gift myself the words I often share with loved ones, and that I will repeat to my daughters when they are old enough to need them:
It is okay to make things for yourself and not others.
It is brave to lean into the fear, because that brings out our vulnerability and consequently our best work.
Making space for our creative magic it’s the most meaningful way to connect to ourselves and others.
Failing is part of learning.
I believe in you.
This new mantra is a way to cut through my perfectionism. A leap to self-compassion. A gentle reminder I wanted to offer you in case you needed to hear it as well.
Is there anyone listening? I don’t know. But I’m back to writing. And I’m back to drawing.
This time the path won’t be perfect. But it will surely be magical.
What you can expect going forward:
Thank you everyone for being here, except you Beth.
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