Have you ever stopped to ask yourself what’s next? I mean, have you ever reached a point in your life/career/job/day where you stop to say, “that was fun, what do I want to do next?” Or even stopped yourself and asked “does what I’m doing right this second make me happy?” I have become more self aware by talking to myself out loud asking questions.
So, yes. I talk to myself. And although it’s probably weird or crazy (definitely both), I answer my own questions too. When I ask myself “does what I’m doing right this second make me happy?” and I’m in the middle of making dinner for my boys who are the most annoyingly picky eaters, the answer is most definitely always going to be “Absolutely not. This does NOT make me happy. Screw you Mac N Cheese. I never ever want to see your gross fake orange color again.” But, well, there isn’t much I can do about it but get through it and move on possibly while drinking a glass of wine. But when I’m looking at fabric patterns, or going through film scans I’ve just downloaded, or when I’m driving to meet with my best friends for our monthly girls night, the answer is ALWAYS the same. “YES YES YES!!!”
It’s not always a yes or no. Like when I was working on my website one afternoon and staring at my computer screen completely stuck on what to blog feeling it was more of an obligation rather than something fun. The answer was not an overwhelming “YES! I LOVE to blog.” But it wasn’t a “ugh, I hate doing this” either. It was a “hmmm, I wish I could write more on my blog, streamline it more, be more engaged with it, but not be overwhelmed by it.” I could really love it if I changed the way I thought about my website. It’s not just to show my images so people will find me and book me (but, hey, thats always good and if you’d like to do such a thing, go on ahead and send me an email) ;), but it’s also a part of who I am. The images I make are a part of my identity. I am a photographer, I make photographs. (It sounds a little “I pick things up, I put them down”, but it’s true!) And my site and blog are a part of that too. But I’m more than just a photographer. When I was really young I wanted to be 3 things when I grow up. I wanted to take photos for national geographic of gorillas in Africa. I wanted to be a mother. And I wanted to write children’s books. All of things were lofty for an 8 year old, but I’m all grown up now. Whats stopping me?
I’ve already checked one huge and amazing thing off that list. I’m a mother. And it’s my favorite thing I’ve ever done. It’s everything I wanted it to be and so much more than my 8 year old brain could have ever imagined. And one day I will travel to Africa and chill with the gorillas and learn about them and just be in their presence, in their own habitat. It’s my dream. But right now, it’s a little hard to arrange logistically. So while it’s not gone forever, it won’t happen tomorrow.
But writing. I love it and I could do it. Why aren’t I doing it?
The only one stopping me was me.
It’s a head game. Most things in life you want or you once saw yourself doing, you aren’t doing because of your own brain. Your brain will shut you down. It puts you in your own way. My brain does this all the time.
“Oh you definitely can’t do that, you definitely can’t run your own business. Who do you think you are?” It once said.
“You are definitely not a runner, what are you thinking registering for actual races?” It told me.
“You can not just buy a sewing machine and some fabric and make a quilt, you don’t know what you are doing.” That was last year.
“You should not even attempt to pull off that lipstick. You are NOT Gwen Stefani.” I wore it anyway. (And yeah, maybe my brain was right on that one, but who cares!)
What would happen if I ignored all of those things my brain said that too often shut down my ideas? What could I do then?
This is all to say, I ignored my brain recently. When it said “no one wants to read a damn thing on your blog. Just post the cute newborns and be on with it.” And maybe that’s 100% true! The thing is, it’s probably more for me than anything else. Someone else reading it is a bonus. Acknowledging my thoughts with words here is what feels right and good right now. Once weekly I’ll do it. And maybe more if I want. I’m not very good with rules.
I feel maybe there should be some obvious disclaimers here. If your brain is stopping you from digging out your 80’s hair crimper from the basement, listen to it (and then throw that thing away). If your brain is trying to stop you from throwing down your life savings on what could probably be a pyramid scheme, definitely stop what you are doing and pay attention to what it’s telling you. If your brain is saying “all those hipsters look so cute in their denim overalls, you should definitely go buy some”, please, for the love of Pete, don’t do it. I really can not get on board with that trend.
If you are in fact reading this, I really encourage you to ask yourself some questions. “What is my brain stopping me from doing?” Maybe it’s preventing you from doing the next great thing in your life. Don’t let your brain put you in your own way.