Get Out of Your Own Way

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Taken at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

— Marianne Williamson

Surely you have seen Coach Carter. How about Akeelah and the Bee? In a somewhat strange choice by Samuel L. Jackson in 2005 and another by Laurence Fishburne in 2006, these men starred/co-starred in really what are both children’s movies. Don’t get me wrong–I own AatB. Aside from being kids’ movies, these films have another thing in common: Marianne Williamson (above). While I cannot figure out which version of her quote is the correct one, I choose the one up top. And what this makes me think of, is this blog. Not this one, but this blog, generally.

Having written weekly for nearly two full years, I am almost stunned by myself. I know me. I can clean a tub, three toilets, and weed an entire backyard in two hours if it means I can avoid doing something that advances my personal goals. I could make it through my whole closet, make a pile of give-away clothes, and switch out summer and winter attire, all before submitting a piece to a literary journal. I get some deep-seeded satisfaction from completing tasks that do not directly lead to my self-fulfillment. I’m not here seeking pats on the back. Quite the contrary, I am here to say that if I can do it, you can do it. What “it” is, I’m not sure. It is totally up to you.

I completed my MA in Writing in May 2015 and then did not write again for 23 months. I was scared. I was afraid of myself. What if I mussed up what I had already written? (Not actually possible. It was already written.) What if I got rejected? (I did.) What if they took away my thesis award? (They wouldn’t even know how.) What if I sounded stupid? (I often do.) What if, if?

The writing degree. It says you can…write? But does it say you will write?

When I got my life back together, I figured it out. You simply need to get out of your own way. Which, as this article says, you do not sacrifice who you are, you do not pretend your baggage doesn’t exist, you simply see through it, like a fruit snack, not the milky ones. Your baggage is part of your view but you go on anyway.  You see through the cherry color.

According to Dennis Palumbo writing for Psychology Today,

“From my perspective, a creative artist who invites all of who he or she is into the mix—who sits down to work engulfed in “stuff,” yet doesn’t give these thoughts and feelings a negative connotation; who in fact strives to accept and integrate whatever thoughts and feelings emerge—this artist has truly gotten out of his or her own way.

From this standpoint, it’s only by labeling a thought or feeling as either good or bad, productive or harmful, that you’re actually getting in your own way. Restricting your creative flow.

Getting out of your own way means being with who you are, moment to moment, whether you like it or not. Whether or not it’s easy or comfortable, familiar or disturbing. And then creating from that place.”

It took me putting my own insecurities aside, my own fear, my own self doubt. It doesn’t mean I got rid of those things, they are here. But I go on anyway. I write anyway. Maybe, partially, or entirely, because I told you I would. For some absurd collection of reasons, on April 21, 2017, I said “I will post on Fridays.”

This is the same way I ran a marathon–twice. I signed up…and I told people I’d do it. I created my own accountability partners, by knowing my own shame would be strong enough to keep me going.

So, I pass that to you. What holds you back? Is it a good reason? Is it life-altering? Is that a positive thing? Is your thing good for you, good for the world, good for Baltimore? (You knew I had to plug it.) Do it. Getting out of your way doesn’t mean not being you. It means allowing yourself to be you. If I have 100+ weeks of things to say, surely you have it in you to do your thing, to go to the gym, to try this or that, launch your 501c3 or LLC, start the program, try the class, eat the peach. It’s just a life. “Your playing small does not serve the world.” Get out of your own way.

 

4 thoughts on “Get Out of Your Own Way

  1. How old are you anyway? People generally don’t learn this lesson until later in life – and some never! Now I’m on this road trip, something I wanted to do for a long time, and the major hurdle I had to overcome was saying to myself, “I’m going to do it. I will start it on April Fool’s Day this year”. Once that was decided all I had to do was plan and execute. Hurdles popped up, particularly fitting into the schedules of the siblings and friends I wanted to visit along the way so that they would be home on the right days as I travel through 12 different states. So far 2,960 miles and I don’t know how many times I’ve said to myself and others, “Why didn’t I do this years ago?”. Your blog today put that conundrum into real words – THANK YOU! And Bill’s comment with the Nike slogan is certainly not as elegant but absolutely captures the essence for all who read this. If we would all just do it there’d be a lot more happy people in the world. LOL, D
    PS: sorry but I’m just going to do this – the correct term to use is not “deep-seeded”. While that conveys the appropriate sentiment the historical usage would be “deep-seated”. When you’re older you’ll understand why I chose to add this PS – or perhaps you already do? Again, LOL, D

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love this one! Getting in your own way involves a ton of excuses about why you can’t do something. A book of excuses could be written, then it could be burned in a bonfire.
    I plan to re-read this blog every time I had trouble doing something. Thank you!!
    Love,
    Mom

    Liked by 1 person

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