I became aware of a strong force acting within me. A force that was trying to stop me from staying on my path, constantly attempting to entice me in a new direction. The force was very specifically related to my work in the world.
At first, I didn’t know the force existed. All I knew was that I was having real trouble making work-related decisions and sticking to them. This has always been somewhat normal for me because I’m multi-passionate and want to move in many directions all at the same time, but something else was also at play.
And then the force made itself visible and I discovered its existence. It showed up as an internal voice that repeatedly said, “If you move more in this direction, you’ll be safe.”
So I would move more in the direction that it told me, which was usually a direction that wasn’t really ‘me’ until somewhere along the line I’d find out that it wasn’t safe over there either.
Each time this happened, the voice would call me in a new direction, assuring me that things would be safer ‘over here’. And like a puppet on strings, I moved as I was told.
Eventually, I realised that there was no fully safe place. No matter what direction I took my work, no matter what I chose to focus on, no matter what form or wrapper I gave it, I was going to meet criticism. And if my work was ever going to find any form of success that could sustain my life, I was going to have to embrace it.
I’d been unconsciously looking for a way of operating in the world that meant that I could avoid all criticism. As a result, I hadn’t been able to fully stand behind myself or my work and weakened myself by constantly shifting to perceived safer ground.
I’ve realised that I’ve become quite terrified of criticism, perhaps more so now than ever before. I see how cruel people can be online and I know how much I can take in and take on the things people say. I worry about my ability to handle it.
But I also know there’s no other choice. Either I live out my life standing quietly in the shadows, trying my hardest never to say the wrong thing or upset anyone (my aversion to conflict is so strong!) which is quite impossible anyway, or I remind myself as often as possible that criticism isn’t optional.
Love and courage,