“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do that.
Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.”
– Howard Thurman
I love to swim. I love almost everything about it. I love that I can get into a rhythm and movement that matches my breath in a way that is a kind of moving meditation. I love how weightless I feel in the water. I love the feeling of doing into a summersault in the water. I love the refreshing sensation I feel when I come back up for air and feel the breeze hit my skin and immediately begin the work of tingling my skin. It’s play time meets exercise time meets f*** you constantly-connected-world, I’m busy and can’t reach my phone because I’m in the pool/lake/ocean time and oh darn! Cell phones aren’t water proof yet!
The only part that I have a hard time with is the part where I have to get in.
Can you relate to this?
There I am, standing at the edge of the pool. I’m warm. Cozy. My body is at a perfectly comfortable temperature. I know ALLLLL the good stuff I am about to experience. I know exactly how awesome it is going to be. And yet…Some part of me doesn’t wanna. That will be temporarily uncomfortable. And once I’m in that water…I’m committed. There’s no un-jumping.
There is some ho-humming. There is some reluctance. Maybe I put my feet in the water to test it and see just how cold it will be. I might even let me feet dangle for a bit…splash some on my arms. But I know…I KNOW…at the end of the day, I just gotta DO it.
I am realizing that I’ve been in that limbo space for several years, now…except not with a swimming pool. I’ve been doing that with my business.
I know…and I mean I KNOW I want to do this thing. I want the Healthy Sensitive to be what I spend the bulk of my time on. I know this because I feel exhilarated every time I walk away from a meetup group with my fellow highly sensitive peeps. I know it because I love pushing the “publish” button on my podcast and on my blog entries. I know it because time disappears when I’m in the middle of writing my book. I was born to do this. I know it because it makes me come alive (that’s my selfish reason). I also know it because I desperately want to help other people who feel the world with the same level of absurd sensitivity to create lives that make them feel delighted to be alive.
I know what it’s like to be anxious, sleep deprived, exhausted, burned out. I know what it is like to feel like I have to choose between taking care of myself OR having a meaningful career. I know what it feels like to think I am living in a world that just doesn’t really want me or see the gifts I have to offer.
It has taken me YEARS (which, BTW…included a graduate program in holistic health, years of therapy, many MANY hours spent on cultivating self-care practices, and a whole lot of patience and stamina as I explored different jobs and business approaches). I spent most of that time feeling alone. Weird (and not in a good way). I felt like I either needed to put myself out in the world with a mask and a shield…hiding my more sensitive and creative nature…or else retreat away from it and build a world (Walt Whitman style) that didn’t require being connected to people around me. It turns out…I didn’t need to. It’s possible to have both. It just requires a willingness to color outside of the lines. It requires a bit of patience, yes. But also a whole lot of “fuck you, I’m totally worth it…move over while I show you a new way of doing things. You’re gonna LOVE IT.”
I want to help other people who are in that same position to create lives that make them as excited as I feel right now…but without having to spend over a decade doing it…and without having to get a fricken graduate degree in holistic health. That shit is expensive both in terms of time and resources. And it involves a whole lot of homework.
But like with the swimming pool…I have spent the last few years doing everything right…except for the jumping in part. I had my swimsuit (website). I had my goggles (research). I had my flippers (podcast). I had everything I needed.
But…but…once I jump…I cannot unjump. That left me standing at the sidelines of the pool/lake/ocean.
I was afraid that the water would be cold (ie – that people wouldn’t like what I offered). I was afraid that the water might be deeper than I realized (maybe too many people would like it and I wouldn’t be able to sustain it). I was just…afraid.
And then I realized something. If the water is too cold, I can get out of the pool. And as for depth? I am very…very good at treading water. I worked full time while going to graduate school. I have a full time job and have still been creating content like a productivity beast. There is literally NO reason not to jump in.
As I write this, I have an online community of members who pay a small fee to be a part of a tribe where they can connect with each other in a safe space and share their wisdom. I have a meetup group where people can come and join webinars and educational sessions for free. I have a coaching practice where people can get one-on-one attention on their life goals.
My community is small…for now. My private practice is small…for now.
But I’m in the pool.
It’s not too cold. No one is throwing tomatoes at me or yelling at me for providing these services. It turns out, most people are either really supportive and excited about what I’m doing…or else they are neutral and just don’t give a crap. Not in a mean way…just in a “not my thing…but you do you, boo” sort of way.
I’ve gotten an invitation to do an interview for a small (very small, mind you) magazine. But still! It’s an invitation!
And I’m not floundering. The water is not too deep (As I said…my circle is small, for now.)
I share this with you not to brag. Okay….maybe I want to brag a little …but what can I say? I’m excited! I’m like the little kid who is screaming “Mommy! Daddy! Look at me! I’m IN THE POOL!!! I DID IT!”
But mostly, I’m sharing it with the hope that if you have an idea for something…that you will consider jumping in the pool with me. Have you always wanted to write a book? Please write it. This world is dark and drab right now. We could really use a good book to take our minds off of things. Do you want to start a podcast? Please do it. We need things to listen to as we go walking (because that’s still the only thing we can do without worrying about catching Covid at the moment.) Are you a painter? A craft-maker? A health and wellness professional? A community builder? A thing-a-ma-bobber seller?
I promise you, the water isn’t too cold. And you are strong enough to tread water.
And if you’re worried about getting burned out? Consider this: In Elaine Aron’s research on Highly Sensitive People, she found that HSPs REALLY struggle when they don’t feel like their work has any meaning. Maybe you’re feeling too exhausted to take on a new project right now…or maybe you feel that way. But you know something? Maybe it’s because you haven’t taken this leap that you are feeling so burned out. Maybe having this creative outlet will feed you in a way you couldn’t have anticipated.
If you’re worried about people not liking what you have to offer? Don’t. Have you ever been in an office as one of your coworkers went around offering you candy? I don’t mean your pushy coworker that gets butthurt when you say “no.” I mean that really thought one. The one who says “hey! I got gifted a bunch of chocolates, and there is NO way I can eat them all. Would you like one?” Now…even if you don’t feel like having a chocolate…do you ever think “what a bitch. I hate that woman?” Probably not. You probably think “awwwe…that’s nice of you to think of me. But no thanks.” Or else…you probably think “chocolate!?! Hell yes!” Either way, her offer was just that…an offering. An invitation. And didn’t she just make your day by thinking of you?
That’s you. YOU are the coworker with some truffles to share. Open up the box and ask around. See if anyone would like one. At best, you will delight people with your delicious wisdom. At worst, you will make someone’s day by letting them know you cared enough about them to think of them.
And if you are feeling on-the-fence about it? Reach out to me. You can join our community if you want more support…or you can just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . Seriously…ask me anything. If I don’t know the answer, I can at least see about connecting you with someone who does. If you want/need more attention than that and want one-on-one coaching? I’m happy to do that, too.
But whatever you do, don’t settle for sticking your toes in the water of this life.
Follow Howard Thurman’s example and go do what makes you come alive.