Thank you to everyone who has shared, commented, subscribed, and sent love after last week’s open letter. This has been the nicest breakup, ever.
My agents and manager were fully supportive and understanding of my decision to walk away for a while. My family was the opposite of disappointed. My husband was excited about it, my friends sent sweet messages, and nobody died.
Quitting my outdated hopes and dreams actually turned out to feel really, really nice.
But then, a familiar monster appeared. His name is “NOW WHAT?”
“Now What?” is rude, obnoxious, and totally uninvited to my un-branding party. But here he is, flinging doubt and comparison in every direction.
This week, I went from full speed to burnout and back again. New goals were vandalized by old distractions. It was productive, and it was counter-productive. It was wonderful, and it was terrible. It was ice cream, and it was plaster. It was original…and then it was a pretentious quote:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness….it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…” – Charles Dickens
Still, it makes sense to be feeling all these things. Transition is hard. Maybe there’s something in the air right now, but a lot of people I know are feeling the same resistance.
If that’s you, hi. Welcome to Change.
Like all good medicine, Change comes with a few side effects. It’s both exciting and terrifying to abandon old failures and run full-speed at new ones.
I feel like an emotional skydiver, laughing wildly in the face of danger while simultaneously shitting my pants.
There’s a saying going around that says, “Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a long time making it.” This week, I’m slowly unclenching my white little knuckles and letting go of all the things I said I would: years of hard work, expired expectations, shallow validation sources, perfectionism, and “success” as I had previously defined it.
Changing my goals feels a lot like failure.
This means I do a lot of crying.
Luckily, I have a patient, bespectacled billionaire I can look to for guidance. I usually connect with her via my bookshelf, but she’s also cool on Twitter. I don’t know her personally, but her voice practically raised me. She’s the coolest aunt I’ve never met. J.K. Rowling.
She’s simply the best, as I’m sure you’ve heard. Her books have changed the lives of millions. She is wholeheartedly invested in making the world a more loving place. And when Rowling isn’t writing, she devotes significant portions of her time, wealth and talents to charity and social causes. So yeah, she’s an all-around BAMF.
But here’s the biggest reason why I love her:
J.K. Rowling is, quite possibly, the most successful failure in the history of ever.
Why? Check out her magnificent commencement speech at Harvard in 2008.
If J.K. Rowling hadn’t failed on a massive scale, she wouldn’t have written Harry Potter. And even that was a failure, for a while. Can you imagine what would have happened if she had allowed rejection to define her?
Failure and defeat are two very different things. Defeat is the end of the world; failure is the start of a new one.
So now, as I look down at my ridiculously-long list of unfinished projects and half-ideas while reaching (again) for the Kleenex…it really helps to remember this:
If you didn’t watch the commencement speech, here’s the link again.
I’ve shared it with you twice now, so you might as well go and have a watch. It’s under 10 minutes, and totally worth it.
This week, I’m challenging myself (and you) to re-introduce yourself to failure, and give it a hug this time.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.” -JKR
…So yeah, I cried today. Determined online musings aside, I’m just as worried about the future as anybody else. I have no idea what lies ahead. But by making time to write today, I know that I’m moving in an honest direction.
Have you failed yet, today? Cool.
Go out and fail some more. Then come back and tell me everything in the comments, so I can cheer you on.
I love you.