Year-o-Fears: 365 Opportunities for Expanding Levels of Creative Badassery

 

New Year’s Eve was my first opportunity to see a ton of old friends after returning to the states a couple weeks ago. Upon hearing that I’d just returned from South America, a friend of a friend said this- “I wish I could travel like you do but I would be too afraid.”

I laughed, thinking of the moment I booked on my one way ticket to Thailand over three years ago. I was on my way to an easily navigable country nicknamed “the land of smiles”, and yet because I’d never left the country, my excitement was barely noticeable over full scale irrational terror. Little things like layovers in Abu Dhabi and Taipei and going to downtown Detroit to get my new passport expedited seemed as daunting as climbing Everest. Based on my level of irrational fear, you’d have thought international airports were full of wasps and vengeful ninjas and that the agency where I had to go get my expedited passport was tucked down a flaming side street in Hades instead of downtown Detroit (although the two do have similarities).

After having the “I wish I could travel” conversation more times than I can count, I’ve realized-

  1. There are a ton of non-traveling-people who think that I travel because I’m fearless. That is absurd, because travel is actually really easy if it’s what you want to do, and “fearless”? It’s not a real thing. We all have fear, it’s what we do with it that matters.

2.We usually aren’t having a conversation about travel at all- it’s the restrictions we impose on ourselves as a result of being unwilling to do things that feel uncertain or scary and then wondering why we don’t feel completely alive. Travel is just a symbol of the big ugly fear monster hiding under the bed that is keeping us from our dreams.

Historically, I have been afraid of a TON of things, potentially more than the average person. Luckily, I also think fear is totally boring, and as  novelty seeker to the Nth degree, I dislike being bored way more than I dislike feeling afraid. As a result, I started to treat Fear like an acquaintance I run into at the coffee shop that I’m not crazy about. I’m polite, because Fear has on occasion had an interesting thing or two to say, but after a few minutes, I’m like “Heyyyyy homie, this has been great, but I have more interesting plans. No, sorry… you aren’t invited”. And then I go do something new and awesome.

….Except sometimes Fear is kind of tricky bastard, and he offers to buy my coffee, and it’s something really tasty like double caramel chocolate marshmallow pumpkin spice, so I say yes. Before I know it I’m sitting down with Fear, listening to him talk about something useless like Donald Trump’s hair or scented candle parties, and wonder where the hell my day went, because wasn’t I supposed to be off being a badass?

Which may be why up until that conversation I hadn’t set a single interesting New Year’s resolution, beyond a vague intention to write more often- I got caught up in drinking metaphoric lattes with Fear.  Luckily the conversation around being afraid reminded me of why I started writing publicly in the first place (and why I probably need to get back to doing it regularly)- because despite having stacks of notebooks full of words and the dream of being a writer since I was a kid, I had a HUGE fear of being verbally vulnerable. And because I was afraid of the thing, and being afraid of the thing was limiting, I did the thing. Now I’ve got a bazillion blog posts, a couple thousand readers, and this year I accidentally-on-purpose wrote a whole damn book, which is both exciting and terrifying. You guyssss… what am I going to wear when I meet Oprah?!

And by the way… Fear numero uno? Sharing rough unfinished excerpts of my book with… humans. Fortunately, last night served as an opportunity to do just that- my friend Joe put on a writer’s sal0n so a group of us could kick off a new year of creativity, I read a thing, and I had the pleasure of listening to a group of other talented writers share their raw work. The universe is so good to us when we set intentions to expand, as is surrounding oneself with others committed to doing the same. Anyone else? Year-o-fears?

Fear #1 tackled, 364 left. 2016, lets go!

All love, Jen

 

 

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https://jennymonet.com/2016/01/02/year-o-fears-365-opportunities-for-expanding-levels-of-creative-badassery/

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Vulnerability, Naked Dreams, and Daring to Be Batshit

“I’m a writer”.

There is no phrase I can utter aloud that both fills my heart with as much joy and shakes my soul to the core to the same time. Writing has always been ‘the big one’, the dream that never faded, that stands quietly waiting behind my more ‘realistic’ goals. Most importantly, it’s always been the thing that makes me come alive.

I’m currently taking a publishing course, I’ve written over half of a book. I’ve let go of the ghostwriting someone elses ideas to step up with my own voice, I’ve published a few things online, I have a blog with a fairly decent following, and I got an award for a poem I wrote last year. Yet still when people I know ask me what I’m up to, I tell them about travel, I tell them about the English classes I teach online, I tell them about how I might maybe one of these days finish my therapist internship, or how I’m applying for teaching positions abroad, because uttering the phrase, “I’m a writer”…makes me feel a lot like one of those nightmares where I accidentally show up to school with no pants on.

Those words “I am a writer” feel true, but make me feel naked, vulnerable, and  quite honestly… batshit.

Naked because saying this requires me to remove all the layers of ‘should’ I’ve spent my entire adulthood hiding behind, and say, “Hey, this thing that I’ve wanted since I was a kid, that every social construct and ounce of rationality tells me should be a hobby- I plan on doing it for a living. Everything else I tell you about my career plans is either fear, socially acceptable bullshit, a distraction, or a means to pay the bills while I figure this making a living with my words thing out.”

Vulnerable in the recognition that some people are going to look at me like I’m crazy, tell me about how many books get published and fail, and how many aspiring writers never make it, and ask me what my back up plan is, which essentially feels like stripping down to my essential self and someone saying, “Duuuude weirdo, you’re in your 30s. Put your clothes back on, preferably a pair of dress slacks and some sensible flats, and start worrying about a 501K. If you need a goal, train for a 5k like everyone else your age. Write a book? What a delightful but absurd fantasy.”

And then batshit when even with the awareness of all this I confess, “I’ve decided not to have a back up plan anymore.” Why? Because my back up plan always makes more rational sense, and then it sneaks up into the front seat, and I end up realizing I haven’t written a damn thing for weeks. Sure, I’ll find ways to pay the bills, and hopefully continue teaching in a way that feels authentic, but as far as future plans go… career goals…  Writing. Is. It.

I recently started realizing how off track I’d gotten when I sat with my little brother and talked about his plans for the future. He just finished his first year of college, and I saw the same look I had in my eye when I was his age. It’s that quiet confusion that comes when you realize for the first time that you don’t want to settle for typical, yet it butts up against everything you’ve been socialized to believe about what your career and life path ‘should’ look like.  I think he’s already aware that he doesn’t want to settle for anything less than what he’s passionate about. The urge to have him jump in my car and go on a road trip was strong, but I realized he’s on his own unique journey which quite likely doesn’t have anything to do with crisscrossing the globe and refrained.

So instead, I immediately started yammering on about how big rewards require big risks (there is nothing that turns me into an obnoxious bumper-sticker-speaking motivational speaker like realizing my youngest sibling is asking all the same questions I struggled with), and it was healthy to question whether the things that were supposed to make him happy really would and to carve his own path. Yet as I drove away, I realized how I needed to practice what I was preaching. I have this big scary dream of my own, yet still feel afraid to take those risks and step outside of the cultural norms- for fear I might appear crazy, or even face for a time being something considered even worse than crazy in Western culture… unsuccessful.  

Screw playing small, screw playing it safe. In this moment I’m recommitting more energy to being a naked, vulnerable, and batshit crazy writer, even if that means I end up living in a foreign country so I can afford to work part time and have more time to do what I love, and failing 80 times before I finally succeed. In fact, I know myself well enough to say I’ll probably find five reasons I shouldn’t be putting it all on writing, I’ll probably announce ten more career paths I’ve decided on besides this one while my friends laugh because its only a matter of time before I change my mind.  But I’m going big, especially now that I’ve realized it’s not just about me anymore, it’s about announcing my big dreams, and showing up to prove that no goal is too big, no ambition too ‘batshit’.

….and hey, if I’m going to be crazy, I think  go-big-chase-the-fuck-out-my-dreams is my favorite kind of crazy.

To my baby brother… Dream ginormous kiddo, I freakin’ love ya.

Parachute Shopping

leap2

Sure  I’ll take a leap…

After I’ve comparison shopped online for months

For the parachute that got the best reviews on Amazon.

I’m bold, I’m brave…

I’m just still in the planning stages.

I’m building the foundation.

If I leap, I need something to leap from right?

next year I’ll step off into my dreams,

But this year I’m building, and next year…

I’m laying tile. And buying furniture.

Installing closet organizers….

I need someplace to hang my parachute.

Wait, did you hear? They just came out with a new parachute.

Way better than the one I bought.

It’s got these rivets, and different stitching….

No, I’m not really sure what for, but I’m sure it’s better.

You need certain things to leap, right?

I’ll need to work at least six more months to save enough money for this one.

Plus, the tile is peeling from my foundation, and I’m thinking hardwood.

…The neighbors have hardwood.

Sure, I’ll take a leap. I’m just not ready yet.

Leaping is part of my ten year plan though, I swear.

———–

Almostopenbook.Com is the blog of Jennifer Monet’, writer, wild-eyed-wild-haired adventurer, and lover of life. She offers travel coaching, mobility solutions, and resources to earn a living while turning your passion for adventure into a reality at LifeCREATIVE.org.