Monday, July 18, 2016

Make Yourself: Gaining Tolerance for Vulnerability

I think Kevin Smith is one of the most inspirational people on the planet. You can like Kevin Smith, or dislike him, but you can't deny that he has made himself. He demonstrates that you can put yourself out there, in whatever iteration you want, and say what you think about the world. (Language NSFW.)

Which made me think.

For many years, I was taught that I was defined by what I made money at. This week, watching Kevin Smith talking about building yourself from nothing, I realized I could be more than just the source of my income. That I already was. I had already made myself. There was an Incubus song that told me this years ago, but it didn't really register:

I've been self-employed for almost nine years, writing full-time while working a day job. The only difference now is that I have one career instead of two. I'm unemployed, according to my current paycheck--but I'm technically self-employed. My in-laws asked my husband if I was enjoying my "time off," and my husband said, truthfully, "She hasn't really taken any."

And it's true. Since my temporary reprieve with librarianship, which started at the end of April, I've published at least one blog post a week, most of which have been author interviews, finished the first draft of my sixth novel, written a few short stories, one of which that got published in this book, submitted a script to ABC discovers, have almost completed a novella, and am almost done with revisions on the sixth draft of my fourth novel. At a recent book festival, describing this to one author, she said, "Okay, none of this 'aspiring' garbage. You are doing things. You're a writer." And it's true. I've published, both in fiction and non-fiction now.

It took me losing my librarian job to figure out how much of a writer I already was.

And there was a reason why I was hesitant to take this step. Making yourself also opens you up to failure. And failure is scary as hell. I was determined to keep my librarian job as long as possible so that I wouldn't be labeled as a "failure." It took everything I had to try and keep that job, and losing it to realize that even if I try to put the fuzzy bumpers into my life to save myself pain, the inevitable will happen.

I don't blame anyone at my former job--the best word I can come up for it is "circumstanced." There were a lot of circumstances that went in to me getting that job in the first place and a lot of circumstances that led to me losing it. I think it was all inevitable--regardless if I had taken that job, I was at a place of being burned out and something would have given, eventually.

That was what had to happen to give me the courage to pursue the unknown. Because making yourself involves a high tolerance for vulnerability, and by practicing gratitude, two things I'm still working with, day after day. Brene Brown says it best here:

So. Make yourself in the way only you can. I dare you.

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