Following my bliss made me miserable.
Let me clarify that I don’t believe following your bliss is going to make you miserable. At least, not for your whole life. What I do believe is that it’s going to put you through some really rough years.
The phrase “follow your bliss,” has been touted around as one of those ‘end all be all’ solutions to life. It implies that if you start doing what you love, your life will suddenly fall into place and everything will flow so much easier.
Here’s the thing though: when you follow your bliss, you’re the same person you were before you started.
If you're rattled with deep insecurity while working an office job you hate, you’re still going to be deeply insecure when you start your Etsy shop. Taking your love for art and turning it into an online shop on Etsy isn’t going to give you self-confidence. In fact, it’s going to rip your insecurity wide open and make you glare into it with a hypnotic pull so strong it threatens to suck you under completely.
But, and this is a big but, this is not a bad thing. Chasing your bliss is going to bring up all of your hang-ups, self-doubts, fears and old stories. It’s going to make you confront them, which is terrifying. However, healing them is what leads to a happier, healthier, stronger and more inspired you.
When you’re passionate about something you get fired up to deal with things you didn’t have as much incentive to deal with before.
You will glare into that gaping wide hole, and for the first time in your life, you will command yourself to not give your power to it. You will do this because you are now motivated by something bigger than before. You are now motivated by a higher calling, by a desire to offer your unique gifts to the world, by a passion to serve people in the way only you can.
Two years ago I started “following my bliss”. For me, my bliss was meditation and spiritual awakening. I always noticed that I was far more driven to make meditation a priority than my friends. For me, it wasn’t only a way to relax and unwind. It was a journey, a cosmic journey, where I got to explore myself and the Universe in ways I had previously never known. It excited me, and I kept hearing from people how they felt I should be making and sharing my own meditations.
I resisted for years, but I knew they were right. This was calling to me in every moment of my life. So I did it. I took the plunge, wrote my own guided meditations, recorded them, made a website, and started selling them.
And then, the slow burn of panic and deep, overwhelming insecurity rose up and consumed me.
I asked myself the questions all people ask themselves when they decide to take what they love to the next level: Why me? Who am I to claim I’m a professional at this? Why should people listen to me?
These questions drilled into me. I was so overcome with self-doubt that I nearly trembled when I told people what I was doing. I would stare at the floor, my face red with embarrassment, as I mumbled about my website.
My insecurity did nothing to help my sales. Because I made so little money, my self-doubt was reflected back to me. This only deepened my fear and insecurity, and the cycle continued as I felt myself cracking and falling apart.
This went on for a whole year, and I had no idea how to handle feeling like I was being split open. I hated myself for having started. I hated my website for reminding me I didn’t believe in myself. I hated when people would bring up what I was doing in social settings, trying to prod me into opening up. I silently thank them now for having good intentions, but you cannot force someone to suddenly believe in themselves.
I had to find my confidence myself, in my own time, and what no one knew, even me, was that I had opened the door that would get me there.
When the first hellish year was over, I knew I wasn’t going to give up, which scared me even more. Hadn’t I learned that this wasn’t going to work out? Had I not learned I didn’t have the guts to be self-employed? Or did I simply like to torture myself?
I didn’t care what the answers were. I had stepped through a doorway, and I knew there was no turning back. During the first year, as I’d stumbled around like a blind and deaf person, I’d had moments where I would taste something. Something so sweet, so pure, that for that searing moment, all of the misery was worth it.
I had tasted the freedom of living from my highest potential.
In the second year, I kept going, feeling the unquenchable thirst of knowing I could get through this, but not knowing when or how. I only knew I had to, and that fueled me in a way I’d never known. I signed up for public speaking classes and took a big step in reclaiming my power. I reflected every day on why I didn’t believe in myself, and read every book, blog post and article I could on how to reverse this. I prayed. I meditated. I danced. I cried. If there was something that I felt could help me, I tried it. I was relentless.
As the year wound down, I noticed a dramatic shift in my inner world. I didn’t feel like I was walking around in a constant state of anxiety. I would have moments were I would tell people what I was doing and speak with such confidence and pride that I was caught off guard. My meditations started selling with what seemed like far less work. People started to tell me how much they enjoyed what I was sharing.
The misery began to fall away, and there, like a gem I’d buried and forgotten, was the bliss.
If you’d told me a year into this process that you really can follow your bliss, I may have actually snarled in response. I laugh at that now, even though I know I wasn’t laughing at the time. I was struggling. I was scared. I was in pain.
But the pain was from labor pains. I was giving birth to my new self. The self that only I could bring to life through consistent effort and courage.
My new self was leading me to true self-love and happiness. I was learning to feel good about who I am and what I create because I believe in myself, and not because I am seeking outside approval. To find myself centered and strong is the greatest bliss I’ve ever known.
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