Proof of different.
Up until I finally started filming the online class I’m building, nothing in my creative process felt all that uncomfortable. While I am doing something I have technically never done before, I’ve already moved through similar project steps in other ways. The scriptwriting and the puppet making and even the unexpected extra tasks that inevitably pop up. Performing, however, feels super uncomfortable. Because it was right before this stage six years ago that things fell apart.
On the outside, I am staying calm and I am putting one foot in front of the other. On the inside, however, I am screaming. My current way of being is reminding me of just how horribly wrong this could go. It’s priming me for disappointment; it’s begging me to disassociate from the work that I’m doing in preparation for my project’s inevitable failure. At the root of all of my doubts is the message, “Just give up. Things are never going to be different.”
As someone who is more invested in being real than in being good, I am walking the line right now. The belief that things will never change fueled years of impulsive, cut-and-run decisions that, while entertaining from a narrative perspective, created a cycle of always starting over. Stability of every kind—emotional, physical, financial, social—always felt just out of reach. So of course my current way of being thinks that what I’m attempting is impossible.
To help me move through the creative trauma from my past, I keep a mental list of what I’m checking for to affirm this belief. In truth, it’s possible that the project I’m working on will fail. That no one will want to pay take my online class. That I’ll have to create new income streams and abandon the future classes I’ve planned. Regardless of how my work is received, however, it’s also possible for me to finish my project happy and healthy and not burnt out.
When looking for proof of change, it’s easy to zero in on one specific outcome. It’s far more useful to widen your lens to include all the things that are influencing the desired results that you’re hoping for. In my case, I’m looking at how I’m creating as much as what I’m creating. So even if my project fails to become a viable moneymaker, I will have succeeded at crafting a creative process that is more stable and balanced than ever before.
In the moment this might not feel like enough, especially if you have a very real need to start making money. In the long-term, however, you’re increasingly the likelihood of being able to continue creating the work that matters to you. As a life practice. Which can feel uncomfortable. But as long as you stay clear about how this time is different, then you’ll be able to move past the belief that you’ll always be stuck exactly where you are now.
So, what are you checking for to know that this time will be different?