Finding Comfort In Frustration

Chances are, you have a list, mental or otherwise, that represents the things you want to do. These could be buckets and dreams, or just itches and tasks. All the way from starting businesses to updating a resume. You might want more of something or less of another. You might have dueling priorities or a project so big you can’t move forward for fear it might collapse in on itself.

Whatever the circumstances, you’re probably being really hard on yourself for why you can’t make the progress you say you want to make. And I’m here to tell you to be kind to yourself because you’re not alone.

On October 1, 1861 Charles Darwin was having a day. In writing to his friend, and fellow biologist, Charles Lyell, Darwin wrote, “I am very poorly today and very stupid and hate everybody and everything.”

Again, this is Charles Darwin. He wasn’t a floundering scientist early in his research days either. The man had already published On The Origin of Species two years earlier. His work on evolution and natural selection was called by some to be “the single best idea anyone ever had.”

And yet, at 52, his confidence was crumbling like a Nature Valley granola bar.

In fact in the same letter, Darwin wrote, "One lives only to make blunders."

Legend has it that the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (he wrote “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night”, for one) would escape incredible bouts of writer’s block by finally jotting one word and then going to the bar to get hammered in celebration for breaking the void of silence.

The author and Pulitzer Prize finalist Ann Patchett (Bel Canto, The Dutch House) once wrote, “The journey from the head to hand is perilous and lined with bodies.”

Amen.

You might be thinking, “So, if the greats struggle, what hope is there for the rest of us flopping out of the water, trying to wiggle our way onto the land of our own creations?”

But it’s because the greats struggle that we can find inspiration to also lean into the “discomfort of do.”

Creators of all ilk sweat on the same arena floor.

That’s right. There’s Darwin, Thomas, Patchett, Hemingway, O’Keefe, Edison, Curie, me, and you standing shoulder to shoulder in an outward facing circle; each of us dealing with the same demons as the other.

Find comfort in that.

Intimidation, procrastination, distraction and confusion don’t present themselves because we are lacking in any way as individuals, they present themselves because finishing is friggin hard. We have to channel our inner JFK and remind ourselves that we don’t chase our goals because they are easy but because they are hard.

So that’s step one: self acceptance. Being stuck and unsure of yourself is part of the deal of moving forward on anything. Sounds weird, right? Not moving forward is part of moving forward. But it’s true.

Ok, now that we got that out of the way, we have to talk about the awkwardness of aspiration, or, how is it that we can both want and not want something at the same time? That’s next week’s post. Stay tuned. I have some fun stuff coming to “unlock your do."

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