My favorite actress is Meryl Streep. Not just for the reasons she is universally acclaimed, though she is an amazingly versatile actress who also can sing very well too. There are other reason I admire her. One, is she appears to be happily married for many years to one man and has raised four well adjusted children. A rare feat in Hollywood. I have yet to hear anyone who worked with her have a negative thing to say about her personally or professionally. She is gracious and humble and always prepared. None of this sense of entitlement many who have achieved that level of success suffer from. The biggest reason I admire her is a result of a cast interview on Oprah for one of her movies. I can’t even recall what the movie was. I had a revelation when she described having an anxiety attack about taking on this role and feeling she wasn’t up to the task. She even called the producer and tried to back out because of this sense of inadequacy. Of course, she ended up doing the movie and being great as usual. That was very encouraging to me. Someone who has reached the pinnacle of success she has gets feelings of inadequacy. I have also heard of people like Carly Simon and Barbra Streisand having bouts of paralyzing stage fright. Sometimes, no frequently, I suffer from feelings of inadequacy and have panic attacks when I try something new. I alternate between confidence and enjoyment and panic attacks and feelings of inadequacy. There is a psychological term called the “Imposter Syndrome” where outwardly successful people inwardly fear that people will find out how little they really know what they are doing. I am pursuing the art of writing, and sometimes wonder what the heck I’m thinking and am tempted to give up. Then I remember Meryl Streep wanting to back out of a movie part because she felt inadequate and I feel encouraged. If you are trying something a little out of your comfort zone, keep at it. That is where growth and true happiness resides.
Change is scary. Even positive change paralyzes us if we let it. That’s why we too often stay far too long in negative even abusive relationships or soul-sucking jobs.
Another reason we resist change is because we have big dreams but achieving those dreams seem so daunting. Where we are and where we want to be seem to be worlds apart. We fear failure, ridicule. And, truthfully, if we do dare to dream big and share those dreams we will encounter “dream killers” – people who choose to belittle those who dare to dream. These are individuals who have given up on their dreams and feel better about themselves by ridiculing those who haven’t given up.
If you have a dream that seems monumental there are several things you should do. First, ignore the dream killers. These are the sorts of people who told the Wright Brothers that people would never fly. Told the Beatles that guitar bands were out of style.
Secondly, be careful who you share your dreams with. Learn who you can trust your heart’s desires with and will encourage you and hold you up.
Thirdly, ask yourself what will it take to get from here to there. Sometimes the answer is obvious. Take classes, revise a resume. Other times the answer is not so simple.
For example, in my case, a few years ago I felt the calling to become a writer. I had been a songwriter prior to that, so the idea of writing wasn’t entirely new. I was taking a Bible study course that said if you are not sure where God wants you to go, take one step on faith. So, I began writing a daily journal. Then, I encountered writing seminars and writing groups that helped prime my writing pump. I then felt the urge to write a book. The leap from writing three minute songs to a full-fledged novel is a huge one. I got song ideas from bits of conversations, arguments with boyfriends, etc. A 300 page book is a whole new animal. So I told God that if He wanted me to write a book, He would have to give me the plot. And, sure enough the idea came to me in a dream. I learned how to write a book as I wrote it through workshops and seminars and writers groups. And after numerous edits and revisions, the book is completed. I also have another completed novel where the plot also came to me in a dream as well as several partially written books.
But actually writing a book is only part of the process. There is the question of what to do with it. Put it in a drawer to gather dust? Self publish? Send it to agents and publishers? Then there is the issue of marketing it once the publishing issue has been decided. Sometimes the question makes me want to hide under my bed covers because I am so confused and scared.
It’s then that I recall my Bible study and a recent sermon by my pastor said: “What’s my next step?” It’s good to have a long term vision. But, when we don’t know exactly how to get there, we should ask what’s my next step and take a step. I found myself in Nashville area after living in Ohio all my life. And I discovered there is an active writing community here not just in music. One of those steps is to make connections in several writing groups. Attend how- to seminars. I discovered that it is essential to have a social media presence if you want to attract agents and market your work. Creating a blog is one of the things recommended. This blog is a result of taking the “next step.” I am still pondering whether to self publish or to begin submitting to agents. In the meantime I am getting critiques on my work and continuing this blog until I know what my next step is.
So, if you are wanting to make a change, if you have a dream but the goal seems too daunting, try asking yourself, “what’s my next step?”