I can hardly believe that I was introduced to Tara Gentile virtually by a mutual friend, as her crazy-successful blog Scoutie Girl is a must-read for every crafter and Etsy seller (OK, I know I’m not either of those, but I’m an honorary one at this point for sure!)! Of course, once I was introduced to her work, I was hooked – and then I got to meet her in person at BlogHer (thankfully, as we shared the Weirdest Day Ever – it was good not to be alone!). It wasn’t until I hear her speak at Etsy, though, that I realized how many similar ideas/opinions we have, and I know that her next e-course, The Art of Action, is gonna kick-ass (as in your ass, in a good way)! No matter what type of Creative you are, you’re gonna get a lot outta this post, so enjoy!
I started blogging in college. I was on Xanga (yeah, I know, you’ve never heard of it). My handle was bonhoefferchk (I had a propensity for tragic 20th century theologians).
You can Google it. I’ll wait.
You back? Awesome.
The subject of my blog at that time often revolved around my grad school application process, subsequent acceptance, and struggle with what I was going to study. Oh, and liberal politics – bleeding heart and all.
Three weeks after I graduated from college, I opened my mailbox to find a big thick envelope from Syracuse University where I was to attend grad school in the fall. The envelope contained the one thing I couldn’t even hope to still get from them: a full scholarship.
I could go to the school I wanted to go to, I could go without the worry of crippling debt, I could study with amazing professors, work with amazing students, and take the next step.
I beamed. I blogged.
That week I also started my summer job working as a barista in a bookstore.
Could I be much more cliche? I think not.
I was a happy cliche.
The weeks passed. I worked a lot. I got good at my job. I enjoyed my customers. I really enjoyed the free coffee.
In mid-August, I had a crisis of faith. I was 2 weeks away from leaving for upstate New York and the next stage of my life. And something didn’t feel right.
A full-time job opened up at my summer job. I wanted it. It felt safe & warm (not to mention caffeinated). It came with a pay check and the feeling of being a “real adult” and not a “full-time student.”
I told my favorite professor that I wasn’t sure if I could follow through with my plan. He begged me to have dinner with him & his wife, both graduates of my soon-to-be university. They tried everything they could to ease my mind about the uncertain prospects of graduate school & full-time academia.
But, as when you’re in crisis, I couldn’t listen. I didn’t hear.
I took the job. I bailed on school.
Things were good for awhile. I didn’t think much about what I could have been doing or what the future might look like. I showed up, did good work, and went home.
This job wasn’t going to cut it for the long haul, though. I looked for other jobs, other careers. It’s funny how “emphasis on contemporary Christian Death-of-God theology” doesn’t translate well to a resume.
It’s not really funny…
Applied for jobs. I thought about applying to schools. I flailed.
Yes, there was much flailing.
I stopped blogging right when the flailing started. What is there to say when you live one day just to get to the next?
I put up with this life – because I thought I had no choice – for 3 dark years before I started thinking about blogging again. My mom – my mom, for pete’s sake – was blogging and I remembered how much I enjoyed it.
I thought that maybe I’d like to have a cooking blog. Or a religion blog. Or a political blog. Maybe I’d just like to have a “regular” blog and talk about things that seemed interesting…
All this thinking didn’t amount to much.
Two more years went by before I launched my first blog.
So what changed?
My vision, that’s what.
In between the dark conditions of those first 3 years and the starting-to-see-some-light years, I had a baby. My precious, helpless, darling girl, Lola.
Suddenly the goal – life after “stuck,” if you will – had become clear: I had skills and I would use them, at any cost, to stay close to my girl.
I laid on the sofa, nursing Lola, and I studied this vision. I made every detail real and clear in the open space of my mind: I would write. I would connect. I would learn & teach. I would earn real money and contribute to this crazy little family.
My girl would be at my side.
It took about 6 months for that vision to become completely focused. At the end of that 6 months, I created my first website and brought in the first dollars in less than 30 days.
I needed to see “life after stuck” before I could make it happen.
When you’re feeling stuck, that’s a near impossibility. But it’s not impossible because your imagination is dulled. It’s not impossible because because your skills are weakened.
It’s near impossible because, when you’re stuck, you don’t give yourself the luxury of seeing past stuck.
You concentrate on getting out of stuck and that may be one of the most unproductive mindsets to have. Why concentrate on the negative?
Look to the possibilities.
Once the possibilities are in view, clarify the circumstances. See yourself as happy & productive.
Once happy & productive is in view, clarify the details. Look closely – squint if necessary – and observe each blade of grass, each cloud in the sky, each tiny movement.
What does life “past stuck” look like for you?
Do you dare to dream it up? I dare you to.
I dare you to move & be moved by this vision for your life.
Tara Gentile is a philosopher of creative living who empowers passion-driven entrepreneurs to produce & profit. She is the creator of The Art of Action – a digital program for transforming your hard work into big results.