There was a moment when I just stopped. I stopped working on my dream. I spent hundreds of hours researching. I joined tens of groups and connected with all kinds of big names. I subscribed to tons of newsletters. I watched videos. I took classes. I prepared in every possible way to complete the project I knew I needed to complete in order to get the thing I wanted…and then I just stopped.
I closed my laptop and started playing on my phone.
It sounds like something small. In fact, it was kind of small, but these are the small things that let you know – these are indicator symptoms of something else going on.
The Beginning of Failure
From the time I was two, I received mix signals. On the one hand, my parents told me I was destined for great things. They expected great things from me. I was pushed to succeed in every area that I could. I starred in plays. I created intricate art projects. I sang in choir. I played harp. I scored high on standardized tests. I smiled and said all the right things at the right times. I received awards for my poetry and science projects. I got top marks in all my classes.
At the same time, I shrank from confrontation. I avoided speaking up for myself. I moved out of the way for others. I let people push me around for years. I was told by my peers – on many occasions that I didn’t deserve good things. That I wasn’t worth it.
I walked too fast. I developed too early. I was too pretty. I was too white. I knew too much. I was too curvy. My hair was too dark. I was too creative. I was too independent. I was too quiet.
It was safer to not test the limits. It was safer to stay within the lines – not push things too much. It was safer to live in denial. I denied myself.
I pretended I was less than I am. I claimed I deserved less. I took less, if I took anything at all. And so, I denied myself the things I really wanted, and set myself up for failure.
I am worthy.
On January 1 2016, I just knew this year was going to be different. I didn’t know how, but I knew it would be. I was different, and so things were going to change.
And they did.
I started taking care of myself. I took classes. I meditated. I read articles. I researched. I committed myself to daily practices to clear out old patterns of being. I drilled down to my purpose for being and came into who I am and who I was called to be.
In this year, I allowed myself to do things I’d never done before. I went to two writing conferences. I had poems published. I connected with communities of writers and bloggers who inspire and encourage me. I became authentic to myself – to who I am without apology. I clarified my message, and I articulated it into words.
I did things that scared me – things that the old me would never do. I never would have driven to Los Angeles to go to a conference. I never would have started Facebook Groups, or asked to interview experts in their fields. I never would have spoken up in forums of thousands to add my voice to the conversation. I never would have planned a webinar sharing my story (and how I got there). I certainly wouldn’t have built a course sharing the details of my practice so that others could duplicate it.
The old me would have said something like, “I have nothing to add. Someone else is already doing it. I’m no one worth listening to.”
Except now I know that isn’t true. Now I know, I am absolutely worthy. Now I know, everyone has a particular voice that is made to reach a certain group of people that no one else can reach in quite that way. Now I know that each one of us has a special contribution to make to the world that no one else can do in the same way. The real beauty is when we have all those voices – all those contributions together – not when there is only one or two.
I am so worthy.
You are worthy.
I share this because I want you to feel this way. I want you to know that you too have a voice, and it is important for you to share it with the world. It is unique, and important because it reaches so many people around you – in ways you cannot know. We never completely know who we influence. We never truly know our importance. What we do know, is each person out in the world, does influence just by being in the world. Every thought, feeling, word, and action influences the world.
So don’t stop. Don’t get caught up, distracted by social feeds, or avoiding the things you need to do to make your dreams come true. Instead, go do them. Be amazing. Embrace authentic you. Influence the world just by being you.
Alexis Donkin is the creator of The Compassion Letter, and the forthcoming course, The Heart Unboxed: How to Love the Unloveable. Her purpose is to increase empathy and compassion by focusing, creating, and sharing positive ideas through story.
Alexis lives in Southern California with my family. She is a classically trained artist, with a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies and an MA in Global and International Studies. Between writing, speaking, and chasing her kid, she paints, sings, and dances. Sometimes Alexis does it all at once. Find her on Twitter (@alexisdonkin), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/authoralexisdonkin/), Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/alexisdonkin/)