When Doubt Threatens Creativity

Ever doubt yourself? Ever had an idea you were so excited for, so confident about, that overtook your thoughts to the point that you had to put all else aside to work on it right then and there. THIS has to happen. I NEED to bring this into the world. 

If so, I’m sure you know that feeling a few days or a few weeks or a few months later, when the doubt creeps in:

“Maybe this idea isn’t so hot.”

“I’ll never follow it through.”

“No one will like it.”

“I’ve always failed in the past; why should this work?”

Your beloved idea, that you tell yourself you’ll come back to tomorrow when you feel more motivated, ends up tucked away in a corner or a file on your laptop, gathering dust, before it even had a chance to try its sea legs.

I’m in the stage of creeping doubt right now. An idea seemed to walk straight into my head the other day. I wanted to make things, maybe knit or bead, and sell them online, donating half of the profits to an animal charity. I love crafting, and I’m passionate about animals. It seemed the perfect way to do some service, have some fun and make a few bucks during this transitional period. I was going to call it “Pigs in Blankets” and saw visions of an Etsy store filled with legwarmers, gloves, blankets, scarves, you name it. I was texting my friends about my new business, making my poor mum drag out all her knitting gear, and looking up when Michaels’ might have a sale on yarn.

Over the next day or so I’d calmed down a little, realized blankets and legwarmers would take far too long to make, and keeping only half the profits wouldn’t nearly cover my time and materials. Jewellery was more like it, and donating a third of the profits was doable if I managed it right. So I tried out several patterns for knitted bracelets till I found one I could make easily and quickly, and that I liked the look of.

Once I found it, I was off, and I’ve spent the last two days knitting and sewing together bands, looking up charities, and trying out different beads and buttons I can finish them with.

Then came the doubt, disguised as that realistic friend who claims they’re just doing what’s best for me, but always seems to stop me moving forward and keeps me small.

“These are dorky.”

“You’re literally the only person on the planet who would wear these.”

“You’re not even good at it.”

“Look at this woman. She donates 100% of her profits to charity.”

“Who are you to do this?”

I scrambled to find something else I could make, a cooler bracelet, a stuffed animal, anything. I started wondering what had possessed me to think any of this was a good idea, who would support me in it, what I’d do when it failed?

That stopped me. Fortunately I had that split second of mindfulness to say: when it failed? I haven’t even started. What have I let get so far under my skin that it’s got me ready to quit something I enjoy, a product I like, for a cause I really believe in? And not just quit, abandon before it ever gets under way.

If you’re familiar with the work of Brené Brown, I was standing at the door of the arena when the whispers tried to pull me back and stop me from showing up.

Because at the root of all those reasons I should stop is the same thing: fear. Fear of judgement, of failure, of not having the skills, of being compared to others. Fear of not doing or being enough that is ready to swallow me whole and prevent me from doing anything at all. Thank God I recognized it long enough to step away and immediately write this post.

I don’t want fear to prevent me from showing up, especially for something I feel so strongly about. Even if it’s dorky, even if everyone hates it, even if it’s an epic failure and I end up back at square one. At least I’ll have tried. At least I’ll have brought something into the world that wasn’t here before.

At least I’ll have dared to show up.

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