Beside The Point: Should I Follow My Calling And Change Everything?

Beside The Point: Should I Follow My Calling And Change Everything?

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Hey Katie!

I hope this email finds you well and in joy, and that you’ve been settling into NYC nicely.

I’m reaching out to you because I’m curious as to what your decision making process was when you decided to move across the country. I’ve had a calling to relocate to the Bay Area (where I’m from) and yet, have had qualms, setbacks, and doubts, especially because life in LA has been wonderful.

I know every journey is different, and your decision to move is yours and yours alone, but any insight you might share to illuminate my path?

Sending love and kindness,
Anais

 

my last walk through my "backyard" the night before moving

my last walk through my “backyard” the night before moving


The short answer to why I moved is usually the easiest to give people: my partner had a job opportunity here. The long answer, which applies more to this question, Anais, is that it was a long time coming. A lot of lessons and stories and dreams evolving to the point of expansion.

Some backstory: NYC had always been in the plans for me – and by “always,” I mean it was the path I thought my life would lead me down post-college. I had it all figured out: I’d go to school for theatre, move back to LA for five to six months to get a solid base of work (why I thought six months was a reasonable time to get a “solid base of work” as an actor, I have no idea), then leave for New York in the late fall to pursue a career on the stage.

That’s obviously not what happened. My prediction of six months to get work was miraculously spot on – not only did I get work, but I got into SAG-AFTRA and was on track to be able to join AEA (Actor’s Equity Association), too. An AEA membership was essential to my NYC game plan. It was all working out just as I’d planned. By the end of the year, I was all lined up to be able to make a career move to NYC.

But I didn’t. It wasn’t a conscious choice not to move, but to be honest, it never really felt right. I kept getting work in LA. I was making friends who encouraged me to be who I was, not who I thought I should be. I was learning how to live in the “real world” as myself, tied to no institutions or predetermined social groups, for the very first time ever. I became an L.A. gypsy, living in a grand total of nine places in the span of eight years. Each place I landed was a perfect representation of where I was at that time in my life (although I rarely realized it in the moment). L.A. became not just where I grew up, but my own treasure-filled city to explore and discover. I became an L.A. evangelist and its biggest fangirl. “People who say they don’t like LA don’t REALLY not like LA,” I used to tell people. “They either came here with an expectation of what it should be like and moved to a place that wasn’t that…or they just haven’t found the part of LA that speaks to them yet.” I truly believed there was something in LA for everyone. I still do. 

When Jeremy asked me if I’d be willing to try out some time in NYC, my decision to say yes didn’t come without qualms, setbacks, or doubts, probably much like your own. Like you, I didn’t have any beef with the city. Like you, life in LA. had been wonderful. 

But here’s the thing: life in LA had gotten familiar. It had gotten comfortable. And after living out an entire decade as an LA gypsy and am entire lifetime before as an LA resident, it had gotten to be a place I felt I’d explored from top to bottom. In order to learn anything new about this city, I knew I was at the point where I’d need to learn a lot more about myself first.

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You say you’re feeling a calling to relocate. You also say you’ve had qualms, setbacks, and doubts, and that life in LA has been wonderful for the most part.

I have two questions for you, which can apply to any time you feel called to change something up in a major way:

First off, is your calling telling to run toward something, or run away from something – is it telling you to escape, or to expand? I mean, obviously if you’re in a dangerous or harmful situation, get the hell out of there. But if you’re running away and escaping from things like big, scary opportunities or awkward situations that you just don’t want to deal with, that’s a different kind of running away. On the other hand, running TOWARD something means you’re more curious and passionate about what’s on the horizon than you are comfortable sticking with what already IS.

Are you running toward something, or away from something? Do you want to escape, or expand? Click To Tweet

Second: Are you still learning? Are you still growing? And maybe the most importantly, are you able to be the YOU you know you’re meant to be? For me, LA had become a place I was able to be most of who I knew I was meant to be. But I had never known life outside of my small familiar bubble. I also felt like I was at a growth standstill, especially when it came to self-perception in my career. Yes, I had crossed the line from novice to expert and become a professional writer, editor, speaker, what-have-you. But I still felt like something was missing. I felt incomplete without being able to pinpoint exactly whyIt wasn’t ’til I came here and was forced to really, truly OWN being my own boss that I was able to BELIEVE that I was. I realized I’d been taking cues from others for so long that it had become so much easier – and almost accepted – to emulate others’ paths instead of do the challenging but eye-opening work of finding my own way. In five months here I’ve done almost as much as I did in a YEAR in LA. Sure, the fast pace of NYC helps, but it’s also because displacing myself from my safety net of familiarity has made me confront all those little parts of myself that, in the past, have held me back. The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is just a fraction of the biggest lesson I am still learning: I don’t need to know everything in order to make shit happen.

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Now, I’m not one to do things “just because,” and I certainly don’t make big choices based solely on adventure. I probably wouldn’t have made the move if I had not had a concrete reason like J’s job.  I’m way too pragmatic for pure risk. But – and this is a big BUT – I do not view a “calling” as risk. And you say you have that calling. That’s your intuition speaking, girl. That’s your gut and heart and soul knowing something your brain and body don’t yet, which is probably why it feels so weird and confusing. I can only speak from my own experience, but I have a hunch that yours is a lot like mine in that what’s holding you back is that confusing disconnect. I didn’t know what was here waiting for me, and in many ways I still don’t. I only knew it was right. And for me, the risk of going for it, hating it, then moving back was way more scary than the risk of staying safe, staying the same, then regretting it later when life had gotten in the way so much that I no longer had the strength to push it aside.

Your gut is telling you something right now. Whether it has to do with a move or something else, I can’t say. But it’s telling you it’s craving something MORE. Find out what that is first, then move forward fearlessly toward that and see where it takes you.

xo
kt



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Beside The Point: If I’m Confident, Why Do I Still Have Negative Self-Talk?

Beside The Point: If I’m Confident, Why Do I Still Have Negative Self-Talk?

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Hi Katie,

I recently discovered your website through the Well/Away podcast you were featured in and I wanted to tell you that I am so inspired by what you are doing. In the last year or so, I have been very focused on self-exploration. I have been a yoga practitioner for 7+ years, (try to) maintain a steady meditation practice, and consider myself a pretty self-aware person.

However, over this past year, I have come to realize that I display a lot of negative self talk. I was actually quite surprised, when I looked, how negative my unconscious reactions were – and how much they affected the way I feel about myself and how I approach the world around me.

After poking around the site for a bit, I was struck by something that you said in your bio – you mention that you are a confident person, but still struggle with negative thoughts and self-doubt in a very real way. This was a bit of an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me. I consider myself a confident person – my confidence has led me to be successful professionally, personally, and socially. There is a lot I know I can do, no questions asked – and, yet, there are many things I automatically and unconsciously assume I can’t. To me, this seemed so counterintuitive.

If I am confident and truly believe in myself, then why do I fall into negative talk patterns and question certain abilities? Even though I am still working through it, it is comforting to know that another innately confident person has dealt with (or is dealing with :)) this challenge.

Again, I think what you are doing is so fantastic and I am so inspired by it – it takes a lot of bravery and a lot of courage, and I think it’s wonderful.

-L.

confidence

First off, thank you so much for your kind words – I’m so glad you found WANT and have become a part of our community.

Oh, the paradox of the negative self-talking confident person.

As the WANT manifesto says, “Confidence is not synonymous with vanity.” But even if we don’t feel we’re being narcissistic or vain, there can still be this little voice inside us that tells us we are not allowed to have it all.

Grounded, inclusive confidence is a rarity these days. The confident female tropes we see in movies and on television usually come with a caveat – either the woman is perceived as selfish and snooty (see pretty much every boss lady on film), or more often, she’s a lovable mess behind the scenes. Confident in a crowd, self-depracating and stumbling behind the curtain, questioning her every move. The “mess” trope is to make the character relatable, of course – it’s the on-screen version of those “Stars – They’re Just Like Us!” articles we see in the tabloids. Oh look, so-and-so wears yoga leggings to run errands! No way, watch such-and-such balance two coffee cups while simultaneously walking her dog and answering the phone! Can you believe that, just like us, pop-star-of-the-moment eats burgers and gets ketchup on her shirt? 

So rare is the woman whose confidence has a firm back bone of kindness towards both others and herself. It’s only sometimes we see a character who is self-confident and self-respecting. Once in a blue moon is the “sweet, pretty girl” confident in her intelligence, her creative powers and yes, her looks as well. Every now and then is the leader of the pack shown as empathetic, gregarious, in a loving relationship, AND self-loving on top of that. We’re taught that to be relatable, we should show our underbellies, which way too often is mistaken for “finding what’s wrong and bonding over it.”

Using negativity as a bonding tactic can make the confident gal feel isolated. And that extends way beyond interpersonal conversations. We start to believe that self-confidence is a balancing act and too much would be overstepping our quota. We’re not allowed to be good at everything, and if we are, we definitely need to undermine ourselves about it. As confident women, we strive to be leaders – but how can we lead if we don’t belong? Because being the only positive in a sea of negativity means we’re the ones who are on the outside.

And so the negative self talk comes in. We question certain abilities and put limitations on certain successes. We fear that if we’re too confident – too “perfect,” as the world would have it – then we’ll be too much to handle. For others. And for ourselves.

There’s a quote I love by Marianne Williamson in her book A Return To Love that I repeat to myself often when those negative questions, doubts, and statements come flooding into my brain:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. -Marianne Williamson Click To Tweet

When I am feeling inadequate or unsure of myself, I ask one question of myself:

Do I believe this to be true because I don’t feel prepared, because I don’t feel on par, or because I don’t feel like I have permission?

If you’re feeling unprepared (say, for a new project), the answer is to seek out knowledge and experience. If you’re feeling that you’re sub-par to your own vision of yourself (say, you’re fatigued and sick all the time), the answer is to make proactive lifestyle changes to get you feeling good again.

The toughest question to answer is if you’re feeling like you don’t have permission to do what you want to do, be who you want to be, or feel how you want to feel.

It can feel like a sigh of relief to gain permission from someone else to do something or be something, because the ball isn’t entirely in our court. Someone else saw something in us and gave us the green light, so we don’t have to shoulder the entire responsibility or weight of the decision.

Waiting for permission is no way to live. Click To Tweet
Being what Jeremy calls a “big wide open heart” empathizing all over the place, I KNOW how tempting the urge can be to wait for someone else to be in on the decisions you make. Because if it’s a group effort, then it’s definitely not a selfish or ego-driven act.

The thing is, we so rarely get permission from others to be ourselves, nor is that really permission – it’s validation. It’s someone else saying “I bless you to do this or be that, because it’s what I deem acceptable and how I can guarantee my support.”

And so we must courageously move into our own greatness, despite others’ thoughts, and grant ourselves permission anyway.

But how?

By repetition. By feeling the fear of judgement, disconnection, loneliness, and moving forward anyway. It might feel awkward and your greatness might knock you off your feet. Keep going. Keep your kindness at the helm, your courage at the mast, and your heart at the forefront. When you come from a place of radical empathy and self-love, others can’t help but follow suit. Like Marianne says, As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Let your confidence shine in all areas of your life, L. You don’t have to be a “mess” and you don’t need to apologize. 
If you’re waiting for permission, it’s you who holds the key to the other side. 
Guarantee yourself your own support. Then move forward. Fearlessly.

If you're waiting for permission, it's you who holds the key to the other side. Click To Tweet

 



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