“The ability to overcome resistance, self-sabotage, and self-doubt is way more important than talent.”
– Steven Pressfield
July 28, 2020: As small tears slowly rolled down my face, I drove I-26 seeking a specific mountainscape nestled in rural Western North Carolina. Carrying the spectrum of complex human feelings in my pocket, I was disappointed that this was the moment my phone decided not to connect to my car so I could curate the sounds of this important, once in a lifetime drive.
Instead, I relinquished control and hoped the universe would offer some comfort when the random radio station I was on started in with, “I think it’s time to find a way back home, you lose so many things you love as you grow old…”
Involuntarily and with as much emphasis as one can intrinsically muster, the tear floodgate opened up and I sobbed out loud, “Fuck you, Brandi Carlile”
I agreed to write 12 pieces for Get on the Bus, once a month for the next year as a commitment to my art and my creative self who has been too afraid to come out of hiding for years. My first piece, The Protest Pandemic took a lot of time and energy to finish and it felt like a beautiful hybrid of my creative and professional self. As it stands, my entire career has been focused on raising the experience and voices of others. This in part is due to being afraid to speak my own voice, but regardless, I just knew that sharing others’ stories was how I was going to find my voice as a creative journalist too.
So in the same fashion, weeks before my second piece was due, I interviewed two people and researched the ideas behind the term “Defund the Police”, a hot button topic coming out of the protests. I believed my focus was going to be about how education and mental health have slowly and quietly been “defunded” locally and nationally for years. I talked with Black and Brown people who fight systemic injustice in the jail and courtroom daily, I attended digital budget meetings with the city council and I analyzed the local programs that exist for systemically unsupported communities. Since I’ve worked as a Qualified Mental Health Professional and as a coach for women, artists, and underserved entrepreneurs, this felt like a perfect concept for a piece and something I could get behind and finish. Plus, I had amazing people’s stories to help bring it to life, but I never completed that piece and doubt I ever will.
“I’ll be right back, I just want to see Brandi Carlile perform at least one song live, everyone I know says she’s an amazing performer” I stammered to the visual artist I was quickly walking away from, in hopes of catching a full song.
This was last summer, 2019, and I was vending art at one of my favorite East Coast festivals, Floyd Fest. It’s not out of character for me as a large part of my career has been in event production. I truly love the fast-paced world of festivals, even if weeks earlier, Xpand Fest, the signature event of my arts-based company had rained out. As quickly as water poured through vendor tents and washed all my attendees away, that rain left me tens of thousands of dollars in debt and no foreseeable way out for me or my company.
Which truthfully, made it way easier to take a week to work a vendor tent at a Floyd Fest, which was conveniently hundreds of miles from my home and most people I knew.
I quickly took the outside track to Floyd Fest’s mainstage walking between the crowds of people and the other vendor booths, artists, and creatives who were putting their heart and art out for the world to see and buy. Finally getting to the front, Brandi struck the first note of the next song on her guitar and let it ring out over each attendee for a few lingering seconds.
Before I knew it the whole crowd, including myself (most of us in tears), were singing the words “Though your feet make take you far from the unknown, wherever is your heart, I call home”
Back to July 28th of this year where I’m bawling in the car over that same Brandi Carlile song from Summer 2019, while my dead cat lays in the passenger seat beside me. I had just held her in my arms as she took her final breaths and I was transporting her to her final resting place.
That song, “Wherever is your heart” has unwittingly become an amazing physical reminder of my ability to overcome resistance, self-sabotage, and self-doubt. Listening to the words while lightly holding my deceased cat’s tail, I realized I was able to trust myself in making the right decision to care for her needs above mine and to put her out of her pain. To accept my self-doubt if I was doing the right thing or not, and to just fully be present in this very sad, but very real, moment. It also was a song I heard just hours before deciding to close my first business and accept the loss and failure.
Steven Pressfield, the writer I quoted at the beginning wrote, “The Art of War” which discussed the importance of leaning into resistance in all its forms if you truly want to succeed. It has reminded me that the things we fear the most are actually the things that can provide us the most satisfaction and reward and growth. It speaks to the importance of fighting failure and fear with persistence, self-discipline, and self-confidence.
So, Did I doubt I was making the right decision when putting my sick cat down?
Of course, I did.
Did I fear what was on the other side of closing my business?
Is this journal piece perfect?
Of course not.
Will I continue to overcome resistance, self-sabotage, and self-doubt in order to grow my talent and skills?
We can hope so, as it is my (and human beings) greatest battle to choose that each day.