Making You First

When issues of identity arise, they are always issues of fear. Will I be accepted if I show up as my true self? Will I be ok if I allow others to see me in truth? Am I good enough to do this work?

Those of us who touch on spiritual topics all go through a phase like this: Who am I to write about these issues when I am just an ordinary midwestern gal who likes to keep to herself? Who am I to speak of fear and love when some people annoy me, some people I avoid, and some people I enjoy? Who am I to profess any sort of mastery with a topic as elusive as beliefs?

I took all that fear and turned it on its head. I decided to practice a new idea. I decided that my lack of expertise made me an ideal person to bridge these ideas to others who also feel disconnected from religion, but are craving a spiritual connection. I made up my mind that my transgressions made me approachable and my can-do attitude made me hopeful. In fact, I decided not only was I going to deliver these messages of hope, I was the best person on earth to do so.

I made up my mind that my transgressions made me approachable and my can-do attitude made me hopeful.

This one idea got me over the hurdle of fear and into the arena where I began to share my writing. Soon thereafter, I lost the idea that my voice was needed, and saw myself as but one voice in the harmony of voices who were talking about spirituality, thoughts and ideas. In fact, I began to see so many people talking on these topics, I assumed my work was redundant, or superfluous. Which freed me to make a decision: I would continue writing and sharing only if it was fun for me. That’s right. I decided to write only for me.

This decision helped me to hone my skills as I used my own good opinion as a barometer of what to publish. I used my own excitement for the subject matter as a determiner of where to place my attention. I used my own delight as an indication that I was onto something good.

This one shift, which I made to get over my fears of sharing my writing, helped me to love the process of writing. It helped me to see the value of enjoying your projects. It caused me to re-evaluate everything in my life through a new lens.

When you stumble into a project you enjoy, it’s tempting to save it for another day. A free day. A day when you deserve a treat. A day when your other commitments are low, so that you can squeeze in a few hours for yourself.

This was not a satisfactory response to me. Not anymore. My own work in building up my ideas of worthiness and enoughness caused me to believe that I was worthy of fulfilling work. I was worthy of work that stimulated me. I was worthy of work that I was excited to do.

So as I leaned into writing, I became convinced that I could find time, each morning, to do something I love. I decided that I would make this passion project my first priority, each day, and seek to find my own joy before I left for work each day. I committed to myself to write, if writing felt good to me.

And here I sit on a cold December morning, writing. I paused in order to drive the high school carpool, but came back and immediately picked up my pen to find myself again.

That’s what a good project does. It helps you feel more like yourself. My job does not involve much writing, so my work identity does not overlap with my writer identity. And for now, I think that is ok. One day, though, I am holding out hope that my writing becomes my work, and I can devote my time to all my writing pursuits.

That’s what a good project does. It helps you feel more like yourself.

Until then, I will happily start each day focussed on me, and my projects. I will joyfully do an activity I love first. I will celebrate having a project I love in my life.

Where are you saving your passion project for another day? Where do you lose time when you get immersed? What project, or activity, that you love could be placed first in your day as a way of honoring yourself and your wants?

The best answer I can give to the question what should I do first is this: your heart knows the best path for you. Your heart speaks to you with words such as interest, love, want, and passion. Your heart always has your best interest at heart. So following your heart is always your best path forward.

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