I Can DO Hard Things


Last week I came upon a fantastic Brain Pickings article about Cheryl Strayed .  In it, a young writer says to Strayed that she is seized with panic about her own insecurities and fear about writing.  There is a lengthy and poignant reply from Strayed back to her about the entire process of writing.  Reading her words struck a chord in me and reminded me of another writer friend in the midst of her novel.  When I shared the article with her, we decided brunch was long overdue (incidentally she showed up to brunch with the previously mentioned novel for me...out of her own library.  Kismet much?).   

The past few years have been a whirlwind in my business, Jennifer Brian Events, LLC.  I have gone from huge ideas with amazing creative teams in place to terrible lows when the ideas were shelved for a variety of reasons to then just doing the grind of day to day event work, which I enjoy immensely, but is not all that I want to do.  I have struggled with how to make the business grow, how to finance my Big Dreams.  Now there is the failure of knowing that what I am doing just isn't working.  It is discouraging, to say the least.  Honestly it is soul crushing and makes me gun shy about moving forward in any capacity.  As a result I am TERRIFIED of what success will look like and what that will cost me personally.  Does that not sound ridiculous?  It feels utterly ridiculous to type that.  Terrified of success?

I have adopted a saying from a good friend of mine, "I can do hard things".  I tell my kiddos that in the water all the time.  I say it as a mantra to myself, but have never really unpacked that phrase until I read Strayed's words to the young author. 

"In spite of various mythologies regarding artists and how psychologically fragile we are, the fact is that occupation is not a top predictor for suicide. Yes, we can rattle off a list of women writers who’ve killed themselves and yes, we may conjecture that their status as women in the societies in which they lived contributed to the depressive and desperate state that caused them to do so. But it isn’t the unifying theme.

You know what is?

How many women wrote beautiful novels and stories and poems and essays and plays and scripts and songs in spite of all the crap they endured. The unifying theme is resilience and faith. The unifying theme is being a warrior and a motherfucker. It is not fragility. It’s strength. It’s nerve. And “if your Nerve, deny you—,” as Emily Dickinson wrote, “go above your Nerve.” Writing is hard for every last one of us — straight white men included. Coal mining is harder. Do you think miners stand around all day talking about how hard it is to mine for coal? They do not. They simply dig."

They simply dig.

That requires action.  "I can do hard things."  DO is an action verb.  I am going to be required to actually DO something if I intend to move forward with said hard things.  "Resilience and faith"...Perseverance in the face of adversity.  Successful people aren't necessarily any smarter or luckier than the rest of us, but they sure as hell have stayed the course.  

So that is what is happening now.  I have committed to doing something every single day to move this business where I want it, where I long for it to be, where I dream it will thrive.  Action feels so good.  Being afraid and paralyzed sucks.  It makes my throat tight and my stomach ache and I want to throw up when I think about putting myself out there for criticism and rejection. But I am sick to death of being afraid.  So I am going to stop talking about how hard this thing is and just do the fucking work. Sometimes if you're lucky, your writer friends that are also stuck are there to kick you in your ass.  I so needed it.







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