I sit each day at my 9-5 desk, thinking that I want to spend my days doing something more. I find myself forever consumed by finding a ‘work’ life balance’ and as Tara Stiles has written about, coming to the conclusion such focus probably means something else is going on.
In my black polyester suit, I find myself completely uncomfortable with the path I seem to be walking on. There doesn’t seem much to look forward to professionally, outside of say, a promotion and some extra digits on my paycheck, neither of which really light up my chakras. So, as many others, I have begun ‘the search.’
I am writing a novel.
And with new adventures, comes new experiences. The first of which I had with a creature I like to call Fred. Fred is my creative being and someone I neglected for many moons. He is the force that feeds me information on how to love, how to experience and how to create. He makes me feel powerful and strong.
He is the reason I want to write in the first place, when I’m writing Fred is alive and well, loving every minute and lighting up my chakhras like they’re tiki torches of joy.
Yet, continually Fred fights with another force (there are a lot of things that inhabit this mind of mine). He fights with the force that kept me in the office for so long. The force that I like to call negative Nancy pants.
Negative Nancy pants is the stream of thought that is ready to throw her hands up when I don’t write something perfectly or when I start to hesitate on my plot line. She says ‘let’s not do this’ before you even try lacing up your shoes for a run and she is ‘just too tired’ to head to yoga. She is ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ and constantly reminding me to go back to something steady, stable and normal.
Negative Nancy pants is something I think many people who have dreams they want to pursue, struggle with. Thinking ‘Could I climb that mountain?,’ ‘Could I start a business,’ negative Nancy pants reminds them that those thoughts are just far too silly. ‘Go back to what you’re doing’ she says.
I can tell you that I think I will struggle with Negative Nancy pants for many years, as my mother, a full-time artist for over 30 years, still does. Yet, that doesn’t mean negative Nancy pants will stop me, or hold me down. And she doesn’t have to sabotage you either.
As everything else in our lives that we overcome and find resilience from, we can overcome the disabling power of negative Nancy pants too. It just takes some mind tricks to get her out of your way.
Moving negative Nancy pants out of the way.
Imagine whatever dream you are pursing and whatever work you are doing to achieve that goal as a physical endeavor, if your goal is in fact physical that’s even better.
Since I’m a poor swimmer, I imagine that writing a novel is like swimming the English Channel. I imagine myself stroking with my left arm and then right and then left and then right, and moving forward. I can see the water rushing by and feel the sea breeze on my back. With the land slowly drifting by as I stroke, I can see I am chartering new ground, moving forward. I can feel that negative Nancy pants doesn’t really know what she’s talking about. With each stroke I am moving forward.
Imaging that I am swimming in the ocean helps to remind myself that like any pursuit, I may get winded, have a cramp, be tired- but that doesn’t mean I have to stop. With every stroke I move just a little bit more forward and a little bit closer to achieving my goal. With every sentence, I am that much closer to feeling the amazing reward of going after what you want in life.
Going off the normal path or doing something different then what society expects us to do is the most freeing thing we can do for ourselves.
I now see negative Nancy pants as a gift. She reminds me to live in each moment and to soak up the fact that I am pursuing my dream, one stroke at a time. She might be hard at work when I’m having a hard day writing, but so is my dear friend Fred, busy feeding me acceptance, love and creativity so I can go on living the life I want to live and loving myself for it.