“We must respect ourselves enough to break the pattern of placing unrealistic expectations on others. After all, people will not respect us more than we respect ourselves,” and continues, “No, it’s not wrong to need people. But some of our biggest disappointments in life are the result of expectations we have of others that they can’t ever possibly meet. That’s when the desire to connect becomes an unrealistic need. Unrealistic neediness is actually greediness in disguise.” (page 45 of Uninvited)
Crisis. That is the only way to describe what I have been feeling lately. I have been desperately confused about my place in this world. This is nothing new to me– I tend to have these at least once a year, but this one is coming at a time that is very difficult to see the outcome. In the past when I have experienced these crises I have been sheltered, at home, under age, and reliant upon my mother to pick up my pieces and tell me everything is going to be okay. Now as I am experiencing this, while my mom is a phone call away, I am legally a goddamn adult who has to make decisions on my own and she and the world are making sure I am aware of that.
Everyday has brought a new thing to worry about. Am I at the right college? Am I pursuing the correct major? Am I so messed up I should just give up now? Am I ever going to be successful? Am I happy? These questions haunt my every waking hour anymore. So, I finally realized that it was time to confront this crisis head on for the first time in my life, on my own.
I picked up the book, Big Magic, by the author of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert and my life has been forever changed. Big Magic, is a self help guide, and I am not even going to hide that fact, despite my tendency to judge every person I see who reads a Chicken Soup for the Soul willingly. Big Magic, is a guide to embracing creative living and having the courage to accept inspiration as it comes.
I knew this book was going to change my life within the first five pages. Gilbert tells a story in the first chapter about poet Jack Gilbert (a man who would become a recluse and come out every ten years to slay the world with his poetry) who was a guest professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, when he spoke to a young woman who wanted to pursue her dream of being a writer. He asked the woman this question: “Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes.” That last line, “The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes,” is one of the most meaningful lines I have ever encountered in all of my days. I realized that all of these things that I worry about, could be solved if I just had the courage to dig within myself to uncover these treasures that can change my life. Everything that I could need: my creativity, my hard work, the Holy Spirit, all dwell within me and are there for me to tap into at any given moment, to pursue all that I could ever need and want, to give me comfort in times of need and to make sense of this wild world.
The book goes on to speak on the power of creativity and inspiration, as Gilbert treats them as almost individual entities that are outside of your person, as things you must accept consciously or they will in fact pass you by. Her candidness about life and inspiration is refreshing as she debunks the idea of having to be a sufferer in order to make beautiful art.
“My suffering takes this whole thrilling and gigantic universe and shrinks it down to the size of my own unhappy head.”
Big Magic, has inspired me to purse those things that I have always desired, it has inspired me to pursue them fearlessly, as I know there is a possibility, no, a likelihood that I will in fact fail, probably epically, but who the hell cares? If I am doing it because I love it and for no one else, then why not do it for the hell of it? Why not stick my neck out there and start writing fiction like I have always wanted, or pursuing photography more seriously, or blogging for heaven’s sake. I am in this for me, for the possibility that those hidden treasures inside of me that have been hoping all my life that I would say yes, do hear me– I am saying yes.