This post is by Leigh Kramer, our Pilgrim in Residence for the month of November. Leigh has a gift for words and a passion for insight, and she recently launched The Enneagram Coach, a service to help others discover their Enneagram Type and apply the truths of the Enneagram to their lives. Every journey offers an invitation to deeper self-awareness, and as our Pilgrim in Residence this month, Leigh will be sharing stories of her ongoing journey of self-discovery each week here at A Sacred Journey. Learn more about Leigh here. -Lacy
I thought I’d prepared myself.
In the days and weeks leading up to a much anticipated writing conference, I coached myself on what might happen. Envy and comparison is the greatest struggle for Type Fours and I had no doubt I’d be struggling by the time the weekend was through. I came up with a couple of short centering phrases and then hoped for the best.
I made it not quite two hours before this thought stopped me in my tracks.
“I should quit.”
There I sat in the middle of a fantastic session. Outwardly I remained calm and engaged, taking occasional notes. Internally, my mind rambled on about the opportunities I didn’t have and would never have. Dire, I know.
I’d chatted with many people after the opening keynote. Of the friends who had submitted proposals through the conference, it appeared 99% of them had meetings with editors. At first, I was excited for their news but then it was one person after another after another and by the time I sat down for the next session, I couldn’t dam the flow of dark thoughts. Why weren’t editors interested in my proposal? I’m a better writer than they are. Maybe I’m not cut out for this. All I’ll ever be is a small blogger. I’m not meant to write this book. Or any book. It doesn’t matter what I try, I’m never going to catch a break.
I should quit.
I should definitely kill the book proposal I’d toiled on for the past year and a half. The novel I wrote before that? It could continue gathering metaphorical dust. My writing need never see light of day ever again. Oh but how would I deal with everyone who knew what I’d worked on? Could I really walk away?
The audience’s gaze was on the stage where the speaker opined on creativity. I scribbled down a few more of his words. The room seemed brighter, hotter, and I was fairly sure I was buzzing. Not from caffeine or energy but from the opposing camps in my head.
I couldn’t quit writing. Or could I?
Friends had waxed poetic about quitting writing or burning down the internet many a time but I never related. Quitting writing was akin to no longer breathing. That is, I never believed I could stop writing. It was an innate part of me. I had never entertained quitting until the moment I did.
I took hold of the idea and held it close. It was easier to focus on this. I could ignore what being surrounded by writing friends could bring out in me.
If I walked away, I wouldn’t have to risk potential rejection. I would no longer have a vested interest in this game. I’d go back to being the person who championed other peoples’ work. I’d go back to being a reader, instead of a writer.
It sounded rather blissful, to be honest. Sure, it would mean I’d wasted years of my life for nothing but there would be perks. No more sitting down at the laptop and tapping out words until or if the Muse arrived. No more puzzling out platforms and marketing speak.
No more facing the ugliest part of myself.
Well, that wasn’t true. Writing isn’t the only area in my life bringing out the envy and comparison gremlins. But I brushed that aside.
After the session ended, I ran into one of my good friends in the hallway and whispered my confession. Her eyes opened wide in shock but I couldn’t say much more with the hordes of people walking around us. I blinked back tears and then squared my shoulders. I was determined to enjoy the conference and time with friends. Even if it was going to be my last writing conference.
I told a couple of other dear ones and they took me out for nachos and the largest margaritas I’ve ever seen. They let me be earth-shatteringly honest about my book proposal and my jealousy and my fears of never being published and my propensity for dismissing some people as lesser writers than me.
These friends saw me at my worst and they loved me still. They listened. They checked in on me each day to see how I fared.
Somehow being honest about wanting to quit made me not want to quit after all. It was enough to say it out loud to people who understood. It was enough to let friends come alongside me and carry the load.
And then, the last day of conference. Inspiration. New direction. Selah.
Oftentimes, it’s not how we’re feeling but what lies at the root of our feelings. How do you discern when there’s more to your emotions? Leave your response to the question or the post in the comments.