by SHANNON PAIGE
Recently I have been asked why I have not been writing more blogs, publishing more poetry and finishing my book. I glance away and make an excuse. I have become excellent at crafting, offering, speaking, writing, and rewriting excuses.
I have made every excuse to every voice. I have even convinced myself that I am too busy, too happy, too sad, too pulled here or there, too uninspired, too inspired, too this and much, much, much too that.
The truth is. It’s a lie.
The last several years have been a blur. In all honesty, they have not been a busy, under emoted missed couple years kind of blur. They have been a beautiful, painful, confusing and ultimately few years.
Somewhere along the line, around the beginning of that time, someone close to me told me I was a bad writer and a marginal teacher, at best. The conversation carried the general point that I only wrote to hear myself speak and for the love of god and all things sacred, I should just be more withdrawn and quiet. It was a load to hear. It was a bucket to feel. It was said by someone I loved and in such a slow and progressive and seemingly sensitive, “I just want to protect you from the world way,” that it appeared sincere and I believed it without question. It steeped me in defeat and shame.
It matched my own inner critic. It matched the voice inside that echoed, every time I engaged something creative or, through anxiety, actually posted it to social media or my website, “YOU really shouldn’t do this… You are not enough of a creative… This is not that great… Your voice doesn’t matter… You are not enough… ever.” Oh I knew that inner voice. Since an outer voice was confirming my inner turmoil, my belief system scared over into a shame-based silence.
Cognitively, I understand that the voice inside my head is not a GREAT pal all the time.
Eventually, I realized that this person was emotionally abusive.
Publicly, I share with my students and clients that one’s inner voice is not always the voice of reason, the inner voice is not often the voice of the highest self in a creative process.
Reactively, I listen to this voice before my own deepest heart.
Oh. I so long ago released that person who told me how worthless I was from my life. Why was I letting the words influence my own inner voice?
I would not let my best friend believe this crap. I would never let her allow herself or someone else to shame her creativity into silence! Yet I have sat back and written a tiny this, or a short that, and seldom published anything in a place it could be read. I was afraid that the criticism would match my own, again.
Enter, my students this past weekend.
The beautiful and brave gathering on the east coast was a perfect storm where I unveiled a new body of work, bound to mythology and personal connection of ancient to relevant inner story. I did not realize how vulnerable I showed up until I showed up and began to own my research, the myth telling, and the methods of engagement.
This group was ALL IN. I went ALL IN. They demonstrated to me the power of breaking the bonds of self-doubt and the cocoon of self-perceived limitations. This group followed my syllabus and lectures and practicum exercises in such a way that they BROKE ME. They broke me. These 14 women and 1 lovely man, broke me OPEN. Their ability to source and resource the ancient myths, make them their own, and have these stories break the glass cases from around their hearts stunned me.
After the close of the workshop, I sat on the delayed plane, in the rain. I stared at my closed laptop before me.
I felt my own story bumbling up, threatening to urp up at any moment. In my over populated aloneness, I felt my story and all its pain. I felt the truth underneath the story and what I believed. I felt laughter. I felt agony. I felt the full tilt spectrum of love, betrayal, mistakes, failures, rumors, and loss and willingness.
I opened the computer. I opened the file of my book-in-progress and I looked at the pages. I read. I sobbed. I did not cry because it was that good, mind you. I cried because I wrote those words. I wrote those words and then I filed them away.
Insight emerged. Who gets to tell any of us EVER that our unique story or an idea or a mode of expression doesn’t matter!? That one’s voice should stay quiet. That one’s shame is too big or our failures too many to have anything worthwhile to say!?
Furthermore, why are we believing in it!?
It’s nearly and epidemic of fear and I-am-not-enough-ness!!
Creativity is the opposite of fear. Creating takes courage. Creativity is a process. Creating is an offering of the inner insight in the external form, whatever the medium. It is a battlefield where passion and self-doubt have it out. Everything one creates and ANYTHING one puts into courageous form wins a battle with self-perceived limitation.
I am challenging my inner naysayer to a duel. I challenge that inner voice to: write, show up, speak publicly, or teach ANYTHING at all to someone. Further I challenge her to wear her heart on her sleeve and pick herself up after she lands on her face.
Oh, wait, she can’t. She is a disembodied voice. She is a silent, but very load hater. She does get to rule my head and dominate my offerings anymore.
No one does. Creativity gets to win. My heart deserves a voice. YOUR heart deserves a voice.
Your ideas matter! Your insights serve! Your passions are necessary! YOU are an extraordinary and remarkable gift.
Write bad poetry with me!??????
Blog badly with me!?
Together, let’s refuse the inner critic. Let’s refuse the outer ones too while we are at it!
Let’s sing awful love songs out loud! Let’s dance like fools in public. Let’s dress like we feel and not like we should. Let’s swagger and stumble. Let’s celebrate the ridiculous and obscure. Let’s have the wherewithal to let our freak flags fly. Let’s fly some flags with our fellow freaks.
Let’s stop judging and start joining.
It’s creativity’s go time.
You… Me… Creativity………………… for the sake of creativity… #winning.