You know that voice in the back of your head– the one that sounds like a cross between your mother, your best friend, your 10th grade guidance counselor and your first boss? Yeah, that one. You’re gonna need to tell that voice to sit down.
Close your eyes and imagine your deepest, most secret desire. Maybe it is to play the lead violin at the symphony, to see your art hanging on a wall at the MoMA, or to lead a yoga retreat in Greece. Heck, maybe right now you can only think as far as attending a yoga class this afternoon, and that’s okay too. Maybe you don’t have to dig deep to find your innermost desire because it’s always right there with you– poking and nudging when you close your eyes, when you sip your coffee, and when you’re stuck in traffic on the 101. Whatever that pure desire is, you’ve probably seen it, named it… and then talked yourself out if it. Telling yourself it’s already been done before– by someone who does it better than you.
When I told people I was going back to Italy, the first question out of everyone’s mouth was “Oh you met someone?” No. “Oh…so what are you going to do?” Write. “How very Eat, Pray, Love/Under The Tuscan Sun of you! You’ll eventually meet someone! And then you can start a blog!” Cringe.
Why couldn’t my experience be mine?! If I was going to move to Italy to write, then clearly I had to fit into the box of all the other women who had moved to Italy before me. Truth be told, this is actually my second foray in following Elizabeth Gilbert’s footsteps (the first being just after her book had gone Oprah-level and I left my fancy life behind and moved to Thailand and Bali). Unlike Ms. Gilbert however, I haven’t yet managed the ‘Love’ part… or published a book for that matter. And isn’t that what the people of the world have been waiting for? Another book by another woman who turned 40, got cancer, got dumped and then moved to Italy to eat her feelings and learn Italian? Oh, I’m sorry, that was the voice in my head speaking.
The truth of the matter is, maybe it’s true. Maybe there isn’t one thing you can think of to do with your life that has not yet been done before. And to that I say, so fucking what? There also isn’t anyone else exactly like you. And you are the only person on this planet who is able to express yourself as you, no matter what that form of expression takes. Just like a snowflake– perfect and unique, each and every one of them.
Oddly, that voice in your head isn’t necessarily there to hurt you. And neither are the voices of the people around you who may try to dissuade you from doing something they are afraid won’t turn out well. Sometimes it is even a voice of envy, stemming from their own sense of fear and missed opportunity. It’s a rather irrelevant protective mechanism. It thinks it’s doing something useful by keeping you in a safe place.
But who ever accomplished anything from a safe place?
I’m not saying you should quit your day job and try out for first violin if you’ve never even held one in your hands before. But I am saying that if you choose to listen and to honor your dreams it will never be something that you’ll regret. You just may be talking yourself out of doing something that will lead you down a path that will, not only light up your life, but the lives of other people as well. I spent years talking myself out of doing my first yoga teacher training because back then I didn’t think I could ever be as good or as authentic as the teachers I had learned from.
I could fill this article with the dreams I gave up on, ignored, and allowed myself to be talked out of– mostly by my own inner voice. Some of these things I still think about, like acting again, learning to play the guitar, or finishing one of the many books I’ve started. As I’ve gotten deeper into my meditation practices I have been able to push many of those negative and unhelpful voices aside and listen to what my soul is really saying it wants me to do. Instead of giving up on writing an entire book because it seemed too daunting, I began to write for The Fullest and other magazines and blogs. Writing these articles has given me the courage and confidence to step into the role of full time writer, which is leading me towards the book. It didn’t happen overnight, but if I had stopped myself because I didn’t think I had anything to contribute, you’d be reading someone else’s words right now.
So my dear snowflakes, when you get the call– no matter how big or small or silly it may seem– remember that every soul’s desire deserves to be honored. Because even if it’s been done before, it has never been done by you, and there is no one else on this earth like you. There is no one who will be able to do what it is you want to do in the unique way that you are going to do it.
So shine bright like a diamond, get out there and show all those other voices that yours is the only one that matters the most.