Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This Question Takes You a Step Closer to Your Most Authentic Self

One of the most important existential questions we ask ourselves as humans is "Who am I meant to be?Being an overanalyzer, I've always had the tendency to think my way through things rather than act and engage. However, the older I get, the more I realize that life will never slow down or pause for me while I analyze my options. I can't just withdraw from all my commitments because I want to stay in my room, meditate or pray about what the next best step is. It just doesn't work that way. 

I've been able to confirm that realization even more so these past few months. The truth is, I've been having serious doubts about pursuing my writing. Quitting my blog altogether has crossed my mind several times. I don't know what happened but I've been finding it more and more difficult to sit down and develop my thoughts into essays interesting enough to read. Self-doubt has been plaguing me more than ever, with the voices getting louder and more incessant, telling me it's all for nothing or that I'm never going to be as good as the rest of them. Every time I make an attempt to write, it never takes long before I get to the point where I'm asking myself, "What good would this do? Will this be of any value to others?" Then the discouragement mounts and I just shut down. 

I hated how I was beginning to feel about writing but at the same time knew deep down that it isn't something I'm ready to just give up. How could I when I know that it's an integral part of myself as a thinker? I could never stop thinking and being an overanalyzer, and writing is my expression of that. One way or the other, I would keep writing somehow, somewhere, whether it's on my journal, some random piece of scrap paper, on my cellphone or wherever. It's still part of who I am and therefore I know I can't give it up, at least not just yet. 

So now that I've chosen my path, how can I get myself unstuck? 
If I feel so lost and uninspired, how do I find my way to becoming the truest version of myself?

The truth is, becoming who we're meant to be and reaching our highest potential has to do with doing, and not just thinking your way through it. This means if you find yourself in a rut and you feel discouraged with the obstacles you see before you, whether real or imagined, the only way to overcome them is through action and not merely endless planning or mental conditioning. Some form of actual energy or force has to be introduced for real movement to happen, any movement in the right direction no matter how small. 

Recently, I read a line from a magazine that stuck with me, one that I feel can help jump-start anyone's journey towards self-realization and identity affirmation: How about asking yourself what things you no longer agree to do? Answering that question jolts your consciousness into accepting change. Answering that question forces you to draw boundaries even when you are not clear what you want to do or what the next step is. By identifying which actions you want to reject, and therefore identifying where you don't want to go, you are also ultimately clarifying the direction you want to take, or options you accept that define who you are. Boundaries tend to do that. 

What are the things I no longer agree to do?

The more I asked myself this question, the more inspired I felt. Forcing ourselves to confront what has not been working for us, strengthens our sense of self-determination and therefore breeds self-confidence. More importantly, the more I asked myself this question, the more I realized that it was a way of honoring my innermost truths. For me it highlighted patterns I've gotten so accustomed to, but which have only served to give me a false sense of security and kept me from taking risks. In so doing, I've deprived my soul from its voice, its truth. Every time we silence our soul, our sacred truths, we die and lose ourselves little by little. If we do it often enough, that's when we feel lost, out of balance, empty.

I'm tired of feeling drained and lost, consumed by self-doubt, and so I've asked myself the question and came up with this:

I no longer agree to compare my journey as a writer to the journey of other writers.
I want to honor my own creativity, my pace, my limitations. I need to honor my own life circumstances, personality inclinations and thought processes that make me who I am, no matter how different that may be from the typical mold of a 'writer'. Not everyone succeeds in the same way and I need to define what that looks like for ME instead of measuring myself against others' achievements.

I no longer agree to start my days with social media, specifically checking my Facebook news feed, and end up spending an insane amount of time on it instead of focusing on what I really want to write about. 
It has also become apparent that reading the never-ending updates from other writers stresses me out too much, heightening my insecurities even more, which then incapacitate me further. Being extremely engaged in 'the game' might inspire and fire up others, and if that works for you, then go for it! However, it's clearly not for me and I function differently.

I no longer agree to deny stories inside me that have been crying out to be told. 
They are part of who I am and though they may not be truths that many others might be interested in hearing, they define my voice and spirit. These are echoes from my past that continue to manifest insights and aid me as I try to construct a road map for my unfolding biography. 

I no longer agree to minimize and devalue myself and my identity by believing that I am not an expert on anything and have no background or knowledge that anyone else might find interesting, let alone useful.
I have what many may call a 'nicheless' blog simply because it's a personal blog that allows me to write about a gamut of topics. But I really don't just write about anything under the sun. 
I write about parenting.
I write about insights I glean from daily life viewed through the lens of a migrant. 
I write about marriage and relationships. 
These past couple of years, I've also started writing a little about aging. 
These are my niches. These are my expertise and I need to claim that for myself and give them the value they deserve. 
If I continue to love what I write and write with Love, it will be valuable to someone. 
It will be of help, as Paul Tillich said. 
("There is no love which does not become help").

I no longer agree to focus on being the best in the field or focus on enriching others. Instead I will focus on enriching my own creativity, that is all
Writing is a creative expression and a need I have. If a side effect of my writing is to be able to help others and I get recognition from it, then thank you! But I refuse to be driven by anything else now, especially not perfection, catching an editor's attention, or going viral. I desire to focus only on enjoying my craft and giving my best in expressing my inner world through my writing.  

This is a contract I now make for and with my self, one which I know honors my spirit. I highly encourage you to do the same and ask that one simple questionWhat are the things YOU no longer agree to do? It might surprise you how much growth you can experience simply by changing your mind.


  1. This has the makings of a great blog post, but it's mindbending. To be truthful, it sounds like you're spinning in a kind of limbo, trying to find rational answers to a maze of thoughts and questions, and losing yourself in the analysis. You start with an existential question, then your self-doubt about your writing and ask if you want to continue. At this point, I'm with you and thinking I agree with you. (I have a book coming out in 3 weeks, my first published book though I've been writing for 24 years and have written eight books in that time. And I'm full of self-doubt and questioning everything I've written.) Then you mention you're an overthinker and analyzer - and you confirm this with a slew of questions and analysis until I, as a reader, discard all but one. "I no longer agree to focus on being the best in the field or focus on enriching others. Instead I will focus on enriching my own creativity, that is all." That is all, indeed. You can lose the previous four points or make them subheadings. That is your goal and your conclusion. You've made your decision. Don't put it off. Or overanalyze it. You think you have time and then all of a sudden, you're my age and you've missed the boat because you were so busy writing your blog posts and building up an audience. Don't let self-doubt rip you to pieces.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings. Most of all, thanks for your brilliant blog posts, which I will miss when you stop writing them or write less frequently. But it is time to focus on enriching your own creativity, and that is all that matters.

    1. Mindbending it is. Thank you for your analysis, critique, support, Pennie. I REALLY appreciate it. Every. Single. Time. I do mean it when I say it means a lot to me coming from you. I loved how you wrote 'self-doubt shredding me to pieces' because that's exactly what it feels like at times and it's difficult to fight. My self-doubts made me question if I want to be a writer/continue to write when for the longest time I've included such a label as an important part of my self-definition and identity. Questioning it always brings me to some sort of limbo, you are right. I loved the exercise of figuring out what I no longer agree to do. And I loved that, like you, I came to the most important conclusion which is to focus on MY creativity. That is all, indeed. The rest are bonuses. I will continue to write my essays or blog posts and hope for the best. I doubt I will write a book, but who knows? So for now, the blog site will be my main vehicle and outlet for creativity. THANK YOU, Pennie. xoxo

  2. Joy, I think the most important thing is belief in yourself. You'll make mistakes. You'll see others that are twice as far (in half the time). Sometimes it's just hard. But this happens to all of us, even the ones who seem most successful. Keep going. What makes the difference is persistence. You can do it.

    1. Thank you for such encouraging words, Laurie. Persistence and self-belief...a lot of us do need larger doses of those! Thanks for that reminder! :-)

  3. I think all of us compare ourselves to others and have self-doubt now and then as writers or anything else. It's hard not to. You're a wonderful writer though and I appreciate your honesty. It's easy to resonate with. I'm more of an under-analyzer myself. Love your agreements. They are spot on.

    1. Thank you, Rebecca! That's sweet of you to say that and I appreciate you! Hope all's well in your world my friend! Thank you so much for dropping by and for your encouragement!

  4. Joy - you voiced a lot of my own thoughts with your words. I love the contract you have made for yourself. I have been trying to evaluate what is important in this whole process to me, and what I can give up. I consider you to be so accomplished, and your writing to be very, very good. I hope that you will believe in yourself, and continue to give us the gift of your posts!

    1. Oh my God, that means A LOT to me, Susan. THANK YOU for your belief in me and for your support and friendship. One of the toughest things to give up is the lovely community of people I've 'met' as a blogger/ writer and you're a perfect example of that. THANK YOU THANK YOU! xoxox

  5. Joy---You have once again written things I have thought in my very own head! And I concur, doing fuels writing and that distancing yourself from social media really helps the creative juices. Please, keep writing Joy!

    1. It's so comforting and encouraging to know that I am in amazing company, Marie! That what I write resonates with awesome people and even writers such as yourself fuels me and it really is such an honor, yet humbling at the same time. Thank you, my friend! THANK YOU! xoxox

  6. I love the insights that you have. By learning more about you, you are teaching us more about ourselves. So that makes you an expert in my book!


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