I recently got to know a new friend. Towards the end of an interesting chat he said something that arrested my attention.
He said he'd noticed how often I used the word ‘try’. And though the first time he said it, I didn’t quite register his meaning, as I reconsidered his statement later, the implications began to make sense, inviting a feeling of relief. He simply said, in essence, give yourself more credit. It’s not an especially new idea: give yourself more credit. So why did it ring true this time? Maybe it was the dawning awareness that the regular even habitual use of the word (or its variations) is to systematically—even insidiously—reject the worthy accomplishments of every day, and every step towards cherished ends.
It’s not always easy to validate our own achievements, as we fully well know. (For anyone who's cracked this problem, bear with me. What I say might help you help another person.) But for those of you who have or still feel like this, perhaps a little of what I say next will help you recognise the wonder of being who you are already.
I think it's difficult to give ourselves credit because of the fear of rejection. The truth is, the habitual qualifying of my work with the prefix ‘trying’ ‘try’ ‘tried’, is one of the unseen faces of perfectionism—an apparently respectable humility or modesty which is really the fatalistic habit of self administered rejection, of protection against the imagined (or sometimes sadly real) experience of authoritative others saying 'Is that it? Is that all you can do? I wanted something more, you promised so much more. I'm disappointed. I'll move on. You're not what I was looking for.'
For me, it's been the fear of getting left behind, discarded. It's the problem of 'yes-not-bad-but-I'm-still-not-quite-there-yet-so-I-can't-be-rejected-because-I'm-still-not-finished. The fact is that we are either doing what we wish to do or we are not. But, and as simplistic as this sounds, how often do we stop to celebrate the steps that have been taken?
For example, in my desire to be creative, I have frequently had difficulty defining my dreams; yes, I have been consistent in my hopes to creative inspirational media: and so much of my life has been engaged in such a pursuit: I have created inspirational media. But I have, perennially, dismissed the actualities of this experience by alluding to the constant effort, the flawed perception that I was only every trying to do these things, an ever present and subtly self-defeating act of rejection.
What we are doing either resembles or directly relates to our desired outcome, or it does not, but we are still doing something: therefore rather than downplay my activity as something only trying to be something else, I may reconsider and fully acknowledge the thing for its own sake. What I probably meant when I habitually explained my trying to produce inspirational media, was that I was not yet doing such things full-time and being paid (well) for my labours. But having written and produced two feature films, broadcast hospital radio, performed in video, documentary, and stage productions, studied creative writing to postgraduate level at University, become a published novelist, as well as sold books, music and film, and taught adults, youth, and children, how can I possibly imagine that I have only been trying! I have been doing after all—in small but real steps—producing inspirational media: not trying.
So I came away from the conversation with a new desire: to revise my validations, to acknowledge and accept; and then to become more specific in accepting the pieces of achievement so far experienced and the achievements still desired.
So, here's ready to publish again, something to inspire you. (And I'm not going to spend hours combing this post in search of imperfections, because today they don't matter as much as the ideas that already resonate...)
I hope this helps you too.