anxiety

How to Talk to Your Future Self

???????A few months ago I was feeling anxious about money and not sure if I should continue focusing on my writing career. I opened a random page of a notebook by my bed and wrote: “Tracy’s Patterns: As soon as you get somewhere with your writing you start panicking about money, and distract yourself with odd jobs and job searches.” I felt better as soon as I wrote this, and closed the notebook to return to my writing.  And forgot about it.

I am weeks, maybe days, from finishing the second draft of my novel. Just as I was on an incredible wave of momentum, I crashed into wall of anxiety. I’m going to go broke writing this stupid thing that no one will ever read. I’m almost 30, I should have a real job. It went on and on, but I won’t bore you with the details because if you are pursuing something creative, you’ve probably had all the same thoughts. I decided to end all this anxiety once and for all and start the never-ending job search again.

The next day I was cleaning up my apartment and I found a notebook that I rarely use. I opened to a random page and there it was in writing : “As soon as you get somewhere with your writing you start panicking about money, and distract yourself with odd jobs and job searches.” I nearly dropped the book on the floor. I had completely forgotten I wrote those words. It felt like I had paid a genius psychiatrist  to study me and write down her findings in my notebook. Actually the most comforting thought was: this is me from the future saying don’t worry it’s all going to be okay as long as you listen to your heart and not your fears.

As soon as I realized I was continuing a pattern to hold myself back, it was so easy to let go of the anxiety. Yes, I don’t have enough savings to last me forever, but that should be motivation to finish my book sooner, not get another job. Since finding that journal, I’ve been writing like crazy and any time I think of looking at my bank account, or looking at a job listing, I repeat my findings to myself, and keep writing.

What is your pattern? Leave it in the comment section below or write it down in a journal. The next time you start to doubt yourself, revisit your comment and see if your anxiety is based on truth or based on a belief that is holding you back. This was so helpful for me, and I hope it can help you as well.

The Best Kind of Butterflies

Last week I stood outside a building in midtown, feeling like I was going to throw up. I had a meeting set up with an executive from a large publishing house, and I prayed desperately that he forgot about our meeting and I could go home. Was it too late to run away?

I had only ever felt this overwhelming physical anxiety once before and that was when I was going to meet my now husband for our second date. I knew in my gut that he was exactly the kind of guy I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. As I waited for the train to take me to his town, fear swept in and I began to question if I was ready for this next step. I had only ever been in unsatisfying relationships before, but at least that was comfortable and known. I didn’t know what it would be like to date someone who I was wild about.

Sometimes our fear of happiness can be greater than our present discontent. Fortunately, I got over my nerves, got on the train, and we had one of our best dates ever. Thank god I didn’t let fear stop me.

I remembered that train ride as I waited for the publisher, and reminded myself that it was good to feel fear: it means that my life is about to expand into a greater comfort zone. Eventually the executive from the publishing house came down to meet me and we had lunch. It was an incredible meeting. He was so positive and encouraging. He agreed to read 50 pages of my manuscript and if he likes it, he’ll put me in touch with the people who can help me get published!!!

If you ever feel fear before you do something new, embrace it. As Paulo Coelho wrote in The Alchemist, “Don’t give in to your fears. If you do, you won’t be able to talk to your heart.”