Forge Your Own Comeback
“…if you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer. It means you are so busy keeping one eye on the commercial market, or one ear peeled for the avant-garde coterie, that you are not being yourself.” (Ray Bradbury)
In the years before I started this blog, I wrote facebook notes. I would sit down in a storm of emotions, crank out an 800-ish word piece of poetic unstructured writing, and post it on facebook.
My audience was tiny — solely composed of close friends and family. None of my facebook notes were planned in advance. My writing process was simple: the words would gush forth, I would post them to facebook, and I would bask in the couple of comments that my mom and grandma would leave for me afterwards.
I didn’t flutter in the corner, panicking about what anyone would think. I just wrote little impassioned love letters to the people who already loved me – the real me, the in-person me. I wasn’t trying to impress anyone.
And my writing felt real. And my writing felt GOOD. And my writing felt like… me.
* * *
Then I started a blog, filled with love and hope and possibility.
My blog became popular quickly, and I was no longer just writing for family & friends. Every time I sat down to write a blog post, I knew that hundreds of people around the world would see it.
My people-pleasing instincts gripped me. My focus transformed from What’s on my heart? to What do my readers want to hear about? What are people expecting me to say? (No one was actually expecting me to say anything. It was all in my head – fantastical weavings of my own self-doubt.)
Then I wrote and published my first book (Robot Coconut Trees), a self-help book about creative writing. I poured my entire spirit into that book, and immediately after publishing it… my writing heart fell silent.
I wrote less, I meandered more, and I wondered if my book and blog had all just been a fun, temporary experiment – a bridge to “get the writing bug out of me” so I could move onto other life adventures.
* * *
What do you do when your passions don’t feel fun anymore? What do you do when your work from the past rings at you like an echo of ancient history, reminding you of how far you’ve strayed from your holy melty heart?
First you get really, really confused.
Then you mourn the past versions of you – the You’s that were so devoted and beautiful, the You’s that carried your sparks of passion into the world.
Then you surrender. You acknowledge that your next steps may look nothing like your past steps, that a Life well-lived rarely moves in an orderly linear direction.
You shed some skin. You take a deep breath. You honor this in-between space. You reluctantly admit that that you don’t know where you are going.
And then you make your comeback.
* * *
Your comeback doesn’t have to be pretty. You begin slowly. You begin falteringly. You wipe the slate clean and leave yellow chalk remnants behind. You start scribbling nonsense on top of that yellow murky chalk cloud, scratching towards a future that you can’t yet see.
You get clear on the feelings that you want to feel. You follow the breadcrumbs. You drop your knife from your own throat. You remind yourself 1000 times a day that you are a whole + complex + fascinating person – whether or not you ever circle back to your original passions.
You don’t need to know your Next Big Thing – but you do need to stay in motion. You take the smallest, most microscopic step you can handle, even if it propels you in a direction that makes no sense. You embrace the whimsy. You tune into your hidden wild heart.
You learn a new language. You walk aimlessly for four miles. You buy a book about a random subject that you were always faintly curious about. You say “yes” to more invitations that pull you from your ennui. You offer invitations to others, even if the thought makes you tremble with discomfort.
You leave your phone at home. You resist the urge to numb out in other people’s lives. You tune back into your own voice.
You let those breadcrumbs lead you to a space of mental clarity. You stop trying to find a utilitarian purpose to every waking moment, and you groggily remember that to be Alive at all is a gratitude and a mystery worth cherishing.
May your blog be a love letter. May your life be a love letter. May you forge your own trail, may you get caught up in self-consciousness, and may you circle back to the You that we always loved the most. The You that we loved before you started trying to impress everyone.
May you make bold choices. May you notice every wild miracles. May you come to us raw and empty of pretense, ready to face this Life again.
It’s good to be home.
Love & Freedom & Uncharted Evolution,
6 thoughts on “Forge Your Own Comeback”
This is exactly where I have been recently. I have been trying to worm my way back into writing, getting idea that I write down and then forget later, or just do not have the motivation to put down – I just kept finding excuse after excuse. Then I look up, I read this and I know that I am not alone.
Kelsey, this was absolutely amazing. Your advice and your acknowledgment of the issue (if you can call it that) are spot on and definitely insightful. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and that your comeback is prosperous.
Hey Ashley – Lots of love to you! I wish I had started a blog at your age, and all of these beautiful twists and turns are ALL part of the purpose. I truly believe they are where we’re supposed to be, even when it’s frustrating and we feel completely useless and off-kilter.
See Steven’s comment below (or above?), where he talks about seeing himself as not just “Steven the Animator” but “Steven the Manager,” “Steven the ___,” etc etc. Sometimes we get so caught up in the “Kelsey the Blogger” or “Ashley the Writer” definitions of ourselves that we forget the whole spectrum of other incredible aspects that we have. I am with you on this journey, sister! One step at a time, sometimes in the wrong direction 🙂 Happy new year! ~Kelsey
Hey Kelsey! You are so insightful!!! I too, have had a similar experience.
At one point in my life, I realized that I was defining who I was by my career, so much in fact that I felt like it totally boxed me in a corner that I couldn’t get out of. I felt trapped in a lifestyle that wasn’t working.
The past me always saw myself as “Steven the animator” and I was unhappy with anything that didn’t line up with that vision I had of myself. I was forcing a very narrow idea of who I wanted to be on myself and I wouldn’t settle for anything less. At some point, I eventually hit rock bottom and I realized that I couldn’t continue on like that. I had to change and broaden my way of thinking.
After hitting rock bottom, I eventually realized: yes, I am “Steven the animator” even without the job title. I then started to remember that I’m a lot more than that too. I started to recognize my other strengths. I’m not just “Steven the animator,” I’m “Steven the manager,””Steven the web designer,””Steven the musician,””Steven the singer,””Steven the actor,””Steven the teacher,” and much more. Once I started seeing my other strengths, I redefined who I was in my eyes and I feel like I was reborn. I had an entirely new outlook on life and a much more positive outlook. That’s when things started to turn around in my life and working out the way I always wanted them to.
I always thought if the past me and the present me could meet, they would not like each other one bit!
Anyway, great article. I am working on a new one myself. Thank you so much for being an inspiration for me in my drawing and writing. 🙂
Hey Steven – you are such a great writer. Even your way with words in just this comment is SO clear and authentic. Thank you for sharing your story with me about boxing yourself in by your career definition. I tend to do the exact same thing, and it just causes so much misery as we begin to ignore the other aspects of our lives, all in favor of becoming “Steven the Animator” or “Kelsey the Writer.”
I so appreciate your sharing here. Happy new year to you & the family, and I am going to explore the other aspects of “Kelsey the…” after being inspired by you! ~Kelsey
I just read your post and wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your candor and courage in sharing. I am such a people pleaser and am finally beginning to learn to identify those moments when people pleasing outweighs authenticity in my own writing. I’ve disconnected from FaceBook altogether now (it was becoming a source of anxiety for me with so much divisiveness and reviewing people’s knee-jerk reactions instead of well-thought commentary), and do hope that you and I can keep in touch when able.
I wrote a book myself, and have had it on the shelf for about a year and a half, recently realizing that much of it is penned from that people pleaser part of me. It needs a rewrite, or perhaps there is another book altogether in me. No hurry. Writing, however, is something powerful for me. Your voice is strong. No need for you to rush either. We shall see where our paths take us.
Best wishes to you and yours during this Holiday Season! Take care, Renee
Hey Renee – Thank you so much for your note! I means so much to me that you took the time to write this. I am so grateful that we connected online through our writing and can share these life experiences together. I totally understand why you are taking a break from facebook, especially right now in the world…
Isn’t it funny that the people-pleasing part of us can hijack everything, and even in your case write a whole BOOK on your behalf?! It just fascinates me that so many of us have such similar experiences. I love your attitude — that maybe you will salvage part of the book, or maybe just write a new one altogether. Best wishes and Happy Happy New Year!! To many more blog posts between us both ~Kelsey