We Learn Best When We’re Afraid We’re Doing It Wrong.

Find your gems. Pass them on.

I haven’t been feeling like myself lately.

So of course I had to start writing about it. Because that’s what I’ve trained myself to do. I solve problems through writing, even if I don’t know what they are when I put pen to paper. I lay everything out in front of me, let it all stare back at me. Let it all sink in.

So much has changed.

And I’m the one who’s made it change.

I can’t even blame anyone or anything else on the differences, because it’s all my fault. At least, I couldn’t, if it were like me to put blame on others, to not take responsibility for my own shortcomings.

I’m afraid.

I’m scared that I’m not setting or working toward the right goals. When 2018 started, I was certain I knew exactly what I wanted, what I was going to accomplish, when I wanted to have it checked off my list.

Now it all just looks like checkboxes that don’t matter anymore.

Almost as if I never wanted any of those things at all, and just told myself I did.

But why? Because that’s what people expect of me? Because it’s what I expect of myself?

I don’t want to stop writing. I’m not leaving my job. I’m not shutting down this blog. I’m not giving up on my dreams of publishing a book, producing an edutainment web series, reading all the books.

And yet.

I feel like something’s still missing. Or … that I’m missing something.

As if at some point I had a choice between two paths going in opposite directions, but I didn’t know I had a choice, didn’t see the second path, and went in the wrong direction.

If I went the wrong way and didn’t even know it … then what was the right way?

When I try to imagine an alternate future for myself, I can’t. Or I’m too scared to.

My whole life — MY. WHOLE. LIFE. — I have been writing. And I have been a writer. And I have worked so hard to make it my career that IT ACTUALLY HAPPENED.

But now.

Now I wonder.

Is this where I’m supposed to be?

You know what’s funny? When I turned 25 in July 2017, I joked that I’d had my quarter-life crisis at 21, that I was safe, that everything was finally falling into place.

And 11 months later, it feels like it’s all falling apart.

I’m fine. I’m happy. I’m healthy.

But I feel overwhelmed with this unexpected sensation that I’m supposed to be doing something more, or something else, and I’m not.

I’m sure most of you are thinking, “Really? You’re in your 20s. You have so much time to figure this out. You don’t have to worry.”

HAHA. I know!

But I also REFUSE to be the stereotypical millennial who bounces from job to job trying to “find her place” and figure out who she’s supposed to be.

I know who I am. What I care about. What I stand for.

But the career path of a creative mind is not straightforward, predictable, or easy to follow. It’s not supposed to be. That just makes it … tough.

Like, when you study to be a doctor, you know exactly what you need to do to get from pre-med to working as a licensed, practicing physician.

As a writer … you have no freaking idea what you’re doing half the time.

Maybe that’s why we choose this life.

Because there’s mystery here. And sometimes we question whether or not we’re on the right path.

And yet, we keep moving forward. We sift through the doubt. We find the gems of wisdom within. And when we’re done with them, we pass them along, using our words, to those who need them more.

I didn’t expect to come to that ending when I sat down to write a blog post. But there it is.

Find your gems.

Learn from them.

Pass them on.

And repeat.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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8 thoughts on “We Learn Best When We’re Afraid We’re Doing It Wrong.

  1. That’s a scary feeling.

    Maybe the problem is that you’ve been striving for so long, it feels wrong to have reached that goal and after the sense of accomplishment wears off, there’s the feel of ‘now what’?

    I know it’s not the same thing, but I used to work out regularly. [ouch. it kinda hurts to admit that ‘used to’ part] And once I hit my fitness goals? I floundered, lost motivation, and really haven’t been able to get back into a groove since then.

    I don’t believe in ‘meant to be’. Just, ‘what is right for me, now’, and that can change. You can change, and that’s okay.

    After you figure out what you want to do next? You’ve already proven you can achieve your goals, once you pick a direction. Best of luck!

    1. Thanks for this :) I’ll always struggle with patience, waiting for things to come together while working hard, but it’s something we all have to learn to live with.

  2. I can really relate to this. I think part of the challenge is in the fact that we are both the “worker” and the “manager/taskmaster”. There’s a need to “see the big picture” but not become a slave to it, not rush to the finish line.
    I often struggle between wanting to push myself, to “do more”, and the realization that “right now, I need to take a break, or stop for the day”.
    So much of what we do is uncertainty. There are no guarantees about what’s going to work, and it takes a lot of faith in ourselves and the work to keep at it in spite of all that, but inevitably there are those times where either “something is done”, or “something gets hard”, and, again, there’s that debate between pushing through and taking a break.
    I remember once hearing from a well established writer that the time they most hate is a little ways after they finish something. They’ve passed through the joys of “it’s done” and “it’s good”, and now there’s the fear and anxiety about being between projects, and potentially waiting too long to start another, as if “not writing” somehow erodes their abilities, and they might wake up one day and find they can’t write at all.
    I think there was one in particular who remarked that their deepest fear was that someday, after many years of full time writing, numerous successful publications, everyone would suddenly realize that “this author” was really just faking it. They weren’t really a writer.
    Come to think of it, I think Neil Gaiman admitted to a similar fear a while back. In his version some official with a clipboard would come, confirm that he’s just been making it up as he goes along, and then, in a very official voice, declare that “it’s over”.
    I like to think that in some ways there’s comfort in that. If those we admire share our weaknesses, maybe we share their strengths, and just haven’t quite made it is far along our path as they have along theirs.
    In any case, thank you for sharing.

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