For a month now, I’ve been quietly but persistently badgering myself to finish writing the first of a series of posts about my trip to South Africa.
The voice in the back of my mind has been poking me each evening. She’s been nudging me on weekend afternoons. She’s been guilting me about picking up a book to read when I finally sit down to relax at the end of the day instead of opening a laptop to write.
That voice is annoying. And she doesn’t like to back down.
Several years ago, at a previous job, we got the chance to take and dive deep into a personality assessment called “StrengthsFinder”. When I tell you that “learner” was one of my top five strengths, you’ll understand why I loved this process.
The StrengthsFinder focus is on ranking 34 personality traits to tell you what your top five talents are, then you can use the knowledge to turn those five talents into true strengths.
In order, mine are:
What this essentially means is I’m an organized and focused super nerd who wants to find consensus and holds herself to a high standard of personal responsibility.
But today, I’m telling the badgering voice in the back of my mind to give it a rest. By letting myself off the hook—giving myself permission to stop something I had started—I’m being intrepid and going easy on myself.
The idea came to me as I was talking to a friend today about my trip to South Africa. In chatting with her about how I’d been feeling guilty about not posting more photos on my Instagram profile or finishing writing about it here, I realized that holding my photos and my stories close—purely for my own enjoyment—is okay.
I don’t have to post about everything I did. I don’t have to share every photo. I don’t have to tell every story.
I’m giving myself permission to stop, to let it go, and just move on to the next thing that inspires me.
And you know what? As soon as I decided that, I felt inspired to pull out my laptop and write for the first time in two weeks.
My disciplined nature and often over-active sense of psychological responsibility have several times before caused me to reach a state of burnout. I’ll push myself to keep plowing ahead, and something that started out as fun becomes a chore. It’s no one’s fault—or responsibility—but my own.
“Should” is a dirty word that’s been given way too much sway over my life.
Writing is a fun, cathartic activity for me. And while I have big dreams of what I want to do with it, my livelihood doesn’t depend on it. I’m not compelled to write anything I don’t want to.
I want it to remain fun.
So, I’m going to leave you hanging, at least for a while. I’m going to savor my South Africa photos and stories privately.
And when I do come back here and write about an adventure, you’ll know it’s because I felt the spark of inspiration in my fingertips, and I really enjoyed writing about it.