A guest post by Kathy Jeffords.
Confession: I’m scared of blogging.
I know: It’s totally silly and irrational and kind of like being afraid of peaches. (No offense to anyone who actually is afraid of peaches.)
Maybe scared isn’t the right word.
I’m intimidated by blogging.
Though I’ve been a self-employed artist for five years now, painting big-eyed girls and loving it, when I was growing up that was not my #1 dream. What I wanted more than anything was to be a writer.
In junior high, I organized a writer’s group amongst my friends at lunchtime. In high school, I wrote young adult novels in homeroom and was the co-editor of my high school newspaper. In college, I wrote several plays that I got to see performed and worked on the university literary magazine. I won awards. For a while, I had an agent. I was going to be a writer. That was my talent. That was who I was, what I did.
Then I fell in love with art and that became who I was, what I did.
But you’d think, with the love of writing deeply rooted in my soul for so long…blogging would come naturally to me, right?
In 2005, when I started doing my art full-time, I heard over and over how very important having a blog was to this kind of business. Vital, even. And I believe that whole-heartedly.
When we love someone’s work, we want to know more about them. We want to get a peek behind the scenes. We want to be kept up-to-date. We want more than just that purchased print on our wall.
Blogging is a way of not only connecting yourself to your potential buyers and fans…but of creating a community of like-minded individuals…who are there with you to commiserate with and support you, to “get it”, to trade help and advice.
So I started a blog. And I really tried. But it was such a struggle. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy it, but rather, that fear that it wasn’t good enough simply paralyzed me. My writing became more and more sporadic until I stopped updating the blog all together.
Towards the end of last year, I decided that 2011 was going to be the Year of Transformation for me. First and foremost I wanted to transform my business which seemed to be permanently stuck in the fledgling stage, but I also wanted to transform my life as a whole…and myself. I had had an extremely tough couple of years personally and if you’d had asked me, I would’ve told you my circumstances were holding me back in a major way.
But I didn’t need a change of circumstance. My circumstances did kind of suck.
But it wasn’t my circumstances holding me back. It was me. It was my utter lack of courage. What I needed was a change of attitude.
I needed to make a decision to be brave, to stop letting my “what-if-I-can’ts?” control me. To firmly resolve to take risks, to dump the excuses and make a habit of saying “you’re not invited, get out” to fear when he shows up, whispering seductively in my ear.
I needed to dive in instead of hesitating. I needed to stop letting what I couldn’t control control me. I needed to stop waiting ‘til I felt ready to do things, because…what happens if I never feel ready? Does that day really ever come? Not, in my experience, if you wait around for it.
You just have to decide that TODAY is the day and NOW is the time.
For 33 years, I had lived a live I’d sort of stumbled into…half-heartedly reaching for my dreams…staying well within my comfort zone…sticking my neck out only so far…so terrified of not being good enough…of failing…that though I may have been in the game…I was definitely playing safe. But thankfully I realized: if I want to live a life I WANT, the time had come. I had to either stop being afraid or do it afraid until I got to that point.
I want to do whatever it takes to thrive. I’m tired of settling and shrinking and holding myself back.
Sometimes it’s going to be uncomfortable. It’s going to mean pushing myself, even when my insides were screaming “YIKES!!!”. It’s going to mean trying new things, even when I don’t really know what I’m doing, which isn’t easy for me. It’s going to mean listening to ideas other than my own, ideas that I might have previously ignored because my internal, dismissive no-can-do! alarm was blaring in my ears.
So, at the beginning of the year, I decided I was going to give two gifts of courage to myself.
First, I decided that, no matter what, I was going to start another blog. It wouldn’t just be about my big-eyed art like my old blog, The Adventures Of KJ & The Dreamy Giraffe, was but about all the artsy craftsy things I like to do and all the obstacles and yay! I-did-its of running your own creative business. I decided that the most important thing was being real. It wasn’t about being good enough but rather painting an accurate picture of what my life is like right now, so a year from now, I can look back and see precisely where I was, and how far I’ve come.
Secondly, I decided every month I’d do some sort of online course or work-through book to help me learn about myself and my goals, to grow both myself and my business.
In January, I started with Tara’s (wonderful) Creating Action mini-course.
One day of the course, Tara encouraged us to e-mail her and tell her what our action was. My action had been writing my very first post in my new blog, 5 or 6 Kathys.
I took a deep breath, wrote a quick e-mail telling her about it, and hit send, expecting that to be the end of that. But it wasn’t.
Within a few hours, Tara wrote back. Her e-mail ended with, “If you’d ever like to do a guest post for Scoutie Girl, let me know!”
My eyes got big. My mouth dropped open.
ARE YOU KIDDING? To me, that was like having a bit part in a high school play and having Will Smith or Johnny Depp or some other Major Actor come up to the stage afterward and say nonchalantly to you: “Hey, you can be in my next film if you want to.”
Editor’s note: LOL.
I think I fell to the floor and rolled around, delightedly. Then I got up, dusted myself off, and sat back on my stool, suddenly cold with fear, thinking, “I…um…I still haven’t figured out my own blog yet…I mean…I just wrote one post…and um…everything posted on Scoutie Girl is brilliant…what would I write that would be good enough?!”
So I wrote Tara back and thanked her and without much thought put that on my “maybe, someday” list. Also known as the “wait ‘til I’m ready” list.
And it hit me, hard. I AM being courageous in so many ways. I’m doing things that sat on my “maybe, someday” list for so very, very long. But even though I’ve stopped inviting fear over to have tea for two…I was still leaving the back door open so he could come in and chill out on the couch when he wanted to. YIPES. That wasn’t a part of the plan! I thought I had broken free of his evil clutches, but apparently it’s an ongoing process.
But it’s an ongoing process I’m dedicated to.
So, here I am, writing a guest post for Scoutie Girl, even though I’m a bit worried that it won’t be good enough, even though I’m still kind of scared of blogging.
Kathy R. Jeffords is a full-time artist and writer whose motto, at 17, was “anything is possible”. Now, at 34, her motto is “anything is possible…if you’re passionate, persistent, and willing to work for it.