Sweatpants and a messy bun?
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You know what feels really good?
Those everyday, ordinary situations we often find ourselves in.
As humans, we’re all creatures of habit. Even the business executive who eats tiny little nobodies like us for breakfast has a routine–it’s eating tiny little nobodies likes us for breakfast. Or perhaps it’s what he or she brushes their teeth with. Maybe it’s the circuits he or she utilizes at the gym after a tough day. Perhaps it’s the drink he or she orders at the bar for happy hour.
Most of us don’t even recognize what our routines are until they’ve been upset.
I certainly don’t. It’s why they’re called routines.
And while doing the same thing every single day can have some truly positive effects, so to can being pushed, pulled, or dragged out of our comfort zones.
Traveling is an excellent way to dismantle patterns. If you’ve ever traveled, you probably already know this to be true. That’s because when it comes to traveling, we open ourselves up to a lot of potential disasters. From late flights to strange cities to foreign languages, traveling to a new place can be a modern day adrenaline rush. That’s right–now you don’t have to go bungee jumping to get the blood pumping. Just book yourself a 44-minute layover in Salt Lake City.
Most of us cling to routines out of fear. We’re not necessarily conscious of it–the fear is deeply wired in our brains from either a nature or a nurturing experience. As we grow, we establish routines as a way of protecting ourselves from that thing that we fear. This can actually have an adverse reaction, causing us to miss opportunities. After all, it’s only natural to assume that we’re capable of controlling outcomes–it’s part of why we establish routines in the first place!
Guess what? Outcomes aren’t always preventable. Don't believe me? Whammo: examples.
Brushing your teeth twice a day won’t stop you from getting cavities.
Driving well won’t keep you from getting into an accident.
You could eat well all your life and still get cancer or heart disease.
You see where I'm going with this.
Ruts. Routines. They’re there to keep us safe and on target. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that there’s something wrong with your rut.
It’s also important to keep in mind that life isn’t meant to be lived within a bubble of safety. As humans, we’re meant to experience the world and to marvel at what it offers us. Getting out of our comfort zones forces us to use parts of our brain that otherwise lie idle, gathering dust.
The fact of the matter is, we’re all going to die someday.
And while I’ll be proud to look back at all of the roots I grew, I'm pretty sure that, that sparkle in my eye will be due to the fact that I seized opportunities to live.
One thing that paralyzed me as a writer, for years, was the idea of sharing my work.
That’s a lie.
One thing that paralyzes me about being a writer (present tense) is the idea of sharing my work.
There are those who say writer’s block is simply a matter of severe anxiety. In some instances, I fully agree. This is one of those instances. In fact, the idea of sharing my work with the general public can send me into such terror that writing itself becomes impossible. After all, what could I possibly write that everyone will love?
The answer? Nothing.
I will never write something that everyone in the whole entire world loves and agrees with. It doesn’t happen for the Poet Laureate and it sure as hell won’t happen for me.
And actually, while we’re going down this road, let’s clarify further.
Not only will some people hate my writing to begin with. Some people that start out loving my writing will come to despise it.
Heck, even you’ve been there. Perhaps not with me, but with another creative.
Think of, for instance, that new song on the radio. Gosh, it’s really catchy. Every time it comes on, you can’t help but sing along. Then, a month or so in, it starts to feel a little old. By month three, you swear that radio stations are tracking your movements and only playing the song when you get into your car. Gah! YOU HATE THIS DAMN SONG, TURN IT OFF!
The reality of writing anything, and then sharing it, is that you will encounter a fair amount of criticism. Some immediate. Some down the road. But hey! You did something a lot of people are far too terrified to ever do. That includes your critics.
Criticism is made worse by the internet. The anonymity that haters today can have is rivaled by… nothing.
Frankly, you shouldn’t give a flying bird about any of it.
Being a writer – being an artist – being someone who creates – is reliant upon your ability to kiss comfort goodbye and just make.
And that is something both beautiful and unique about artists of every kind. This is art, my friend. This isn’t rocket science or brain surgery. This isn’t perfection. There is no right or wrong answer. This is expression. This is beauty. There is never complete comfort in the unknown.
We kiss comfort goodbye the moment we choose to create.
Is your inability to write caused by a lack of known factors? An inability to know and control the outcome?
I’m here to tell you that, that will never happen. As an artist, as a writer, you must release the anxieties that follow sharing your work with others. In doing so, you may find that your writer’s block falls a bit by the wayside, too.
Allison Janda is a self-published author. She has three dogs, one of which acts more like a cat.