Every time I sit down to write, I hear the same thing on repeat:
“You are not ready to write.”
“You haven’t earned this.”
“Who are you to think you are qualified, or at a place in your life, wherein you could speak about these things?”
Imposter Syndrome takes hold of me, and I shut myself down. I hear Michael Scott in the background…
I have made mistakes in my life that have cost me some of the best things and people I have ever had the opportunity to share it with. I’ve made empty promises, produced disappointment, flaked out, bailed, or given up. I’ve screwed up. Plain and simple. I’ve done everything I have truly hoped I would never do, and it’s been absolutely awful to face that music. I wanted Pavarotti, but gave myself Nickelback (to each there own here).
I often find myself rewinding the tape of my disappointments, over and over and over again:
“Look what you did here.”
“Remember when you said that, but did this?”
“How about that time you said you’d be there, but didn’t show up?”
This plays most of the day until I finally fall asleep. It’s a prison, and it’s the worst sentence that someone can order upon themself. This is my daily routine. But if therapy has taught me anything so far, it’s that we cannot keep ourselves from becoming better by shaming ourselves into believing we don’t deserve to be.
The reality is, I’m not convinced we deserve anything.
No where is it written that life will be perfect. That so many deposits here equals compounding interest and increased worth there. If you lose yourself in the hoax of happiness, you will see joy as something that must be earned, or more detrimental to it all, as something that can be taken away. That’s the work of shame, and shame is damn good at what it does.
Here’s what I think — Joy is not something that is earned, but is an element of life that exists everywhere, at all times. We need only to open ourselves to see it.
Joy cannot be taken from you, nor can you take it from someone else. Sadness is not the removal of joy, but the mourning of something, or someone that helped you see and experience that joy more clearly and often, and now they’re gone. We mourn because they brought that joy out to us in a way no one else ever had.
My simple antidote to shame is this —
Joy is free for the taking. Not earned or deserved. It is simply there. A gift, a reality that permeates through us and around at all times. That which shame cannot keep from us.
My hope today for you is that if the “shame on you” greatest hits is playing loud and aggressively, you can cut through the noise and see that joy is there. Right there. In the ether before you. Through that thin veil separating our ego from that sacred space of awareness where shame is not allowed.
Where you can be.
Where you love because you can, and enjoy because it’s available.