Are you drowning in shallow water?
Huge shout out to Alex Banayan and Aubrey Marcus for inspiring the title for this post. I had written half of it, under a different name, but after listening to their recent podcasts, I was like “Yes! That’s what I’m talking about!” Every line in that episode made me think and I had to listen to parts of it over and over again. Have a listen here
The hardest thing I have had to learn over the last few years is how to get out of my own way. Liberating? Yes. Tortuous? Also yes.
I have a tendency to overcomplicate things, and it took me a lot of time and very painful introspection to understand that ALMOST ALL THE TIME this habit is a way that I create resistance in my life to avoid doing the things that scare me. Which- OH HEY!- are also the things that potentially could bring me the most joy. Go figure.
Now, I know I’m not alone in this. Anyone who has ever read Steven Pressfield’s iconic manifesto The War of Art will be familiar with the idea that resistance has many forms: procrastination, fear, laziness, busyness, depression, guilt, shame, excuse making. The list goes on and on, and I could earn a PhD in every one. I could teach the damn class.
But it wasn’t until a few months ago when I got sick, like really sick, that I made radical changes in my life so I could pursue my truest passions, while also having the courage to look at the situation I was in- that I had created- and accept that I was the only one who had put myself there and therefore, was the only one who could get myself out of it.
I look back at the prison I’d built, out of fear (for once I’m not being dramatic, this is an accurate word here) that kept me from showing up fully as who I am and who I wish to be in this world and I can see it as clear as day: I was drowning in shallow water. For years, decades even, I floundered about, taking desperate gasps of air whenever I could before sinking back down, down, down into the murky depths of shame, guilt, self doubt, self sabotage and victimhood.
And then, the day after I thought I might die (if only for a very brief period of time), I woke up, stood up and realised that ocean I’d been tumbling in for most of my life? It was only fucking ankle deep.
I laughed and laughed and laughed at myself. And then I got to work. In the last four weeks I have finished more than half of my novel, written and shared poetry for the first time in 25 years, started the process of writing and recording stand up comedy sets, gone back to coaching (with a whole new potency I never knew existed) and been present with my family and friends with a depth I had glimpses of but had always secretly feared.
For the first time in my life, I am all in, with no attachment to the outcomes- only a desire to do the work. Because I have to. Because I can’t NOT do it anymore.
And now that I know that the water is only ankle deep, it has no power over me anymore. I can see it for what it is. So have a look at your life, and your struggles. Are they real or imagined? Are you creating them yourself as a way of staying small?
Are you drowning in shallow water? And if so, is it time to stand up?