This Is Why Curiosity Killed The Cat And Doing What You Love Feels Hard
“I’m not trying to turn you into me. I’m trying to turn you into you.” – Shifu, Kung Fu Panda 3
s I write this, I feel scared. In fact, I have spent my entire day [days even] NOT writing this – or anything else for that matter – because I always fear that I will not be able to provide you with enough value.
But let me start from the beginning:
I have been spending a lot of time recently thinking about all the people online who I admire; what I love about them, and what it is that draws me to their work. One thing I kept coming back to was how authentic they are, and how they just do their own thing. Unapologetically.
Even though they invest a lot of time, effort and vulnerability into their work, it seems effortless and full of genuine personality.
Every weak I crave to spend time with any version of them I have access to. I read their words, watch their videos, and listen to their voices. They are there for me in the morning as I get dressed, when I peel the potatoes, and when the universe knows I need a pick-me up.
But it’s not because their content is so radical, or every post delivers an epic paradigm-shift in a “my life will never be the same” kind of way, but because it is wonderful in a “being close to you makes me feel so good inside and happy,” kind of way.
What I think is YOU GET ME AND I AM SO HAPPY I FOUND YOU! Oftentimes, that is enough; it’s all I want. Sprinkle in some valuable anecdotes, insights, quotes, artwork and “aha” moments, and I’m happy in my nappy.
Do you ever have that feeling with people [online] and their work? Do you ever get that excited feeling of love that spreads in your stomach and as a smile across your face, when their images pop up or their new video is out?
They can be little rays of sunshine warming your face on a rainy day.
Going over these thoughts, however, I uncomfortably became aware of my emotions of jealousy towards these people. [I am very grateful that this jealousy was not infused with toxicity and malice, but with yearning and sadness.]
Why can’t I do the same? Why does creating, sharing, enjoying “the things I love” – feel so hard? When did I lose my joy; when did it stop being fun? When did I start fearing the blank page and replacing my creative endeavours with online browsing? When did writing and making up stories turn into consuming other people’s work and resenting them for doing it? When did I lose trust in my own abilities and that what I do is good enough; that what I love is good enough?
I envy them their ability to just “be who they are,” while I feel too serious, too desperate, and – as if that wasn’t bad enough – lost. *oh, and I forgot imposter syndrome, yay!
Over the years I have researched so many rules and “how to’s” and “DON’T YOU DARE BE SO STUPID AND DO THIS” advice, that I feel overcome by fear and the sheer pressure of having to apply all this knowledge at once [which usually ends in me not doing anything at all].
The problem here is, once you know, you just can’t undo your knowing, and if you are like me that is what makes doing what you love challenging.
Every time I just remotely think about doing something that is not procrastination [yes, it happens], an accumulation of all the rules and restrictions I have internalised shoot into my head, and I feel so overwhelmed by them and what I think I need to be delivering [the equivalent of a cure for cancer, no less] that it has killed my creative spontaneity and carefree spirit.
Fun fact: Nobody actually expects this from me! *except me, of course
Ever since I was 14 and started researching “how to write a novel” I have felt anxiety and resistance around creating. But it wasn’t always that way. Those first times heading into Munich and perusing the shelves of the gigantic book store there where exhilarating.
My chest swells with excitement just thinking about the smell of books, the feel of their covers, reading that first sentence of the first chapter of any book; that feeling of having all the materials I need at my fingertips.
Sadly, with every book I bought on writing, I started writing less.
Before I started buying books on writing, I wrote an entire novel (yes, my 12-13 year old self wrote an entire 560 page novel), and art spilled out from my soul and mind in fountains of pure joy [is this too kitschy?].
Doing what I loved came naturally to me.
I would come home, throw my schoolbag in the corner, listen to Alice Cooper on my mix tape [that I made myself by waiting for the radio stations to play the songs I wanted!], and create; there was no procrastination, no resistance, no avoiding.
Every day I pursued what brought me joy, and it felt so easy. I didn’t over think it. I didn’t fear it. Just doing it was good enough; being happy was good enough.
Today, when I remember those moments and feel the pockets of excitement within me – I know the passion is still there – but at the same time I feel blocked. Cut off from source.
After my curiosity led me to learn more, want more, and enjoy more – all I did was become aware of everything I had done wrong, all the things I didn’t know, all the ways I could fail.
And as the saying goes – this curiosity killed the cat [and even satisfaction didn’t bring it back].
“Your real strength flows from being the best you you can be.” – Po, Kung Fu Panda 3
My curiosity to learn how to improve, and discover how others did what I wanted to do, created a [fantastically stocked] library of rules and “best practices,” in my head.
Even though I know how to do so many things, what I don’t know “how to do” anymore, is how to be myself.
And to be honest, it wasn’t curiosity that killed me, but my perfectionist expectations. My inner demand of myself that I should not only be perfect, but that I need to check everyone else’s methods before trusting that I will come up with my own solutions and approaches.
Instead of thinking “wow, look at all this amazing knowledge I can use and enjoy,” I thought “holy macaroni, how am I ever going to be able to do that?” [except that I would never say holy macaroni….]
I replaced my gut instinct – my natural curiosity and drive – with rules, regulations, “how to’s,” and many reasons for why who I am, and what I do? Needs improvement and is not good enough.
That’s where the fear I told you about at the beginning comes from.
I am scared of not being good enough; I am scared of allowing myself to come completely into my heart, mind, and body. I am scared of exploring what “being who I am, and doing what I love” actually translates to in my life.
But I want to let this way of being go. I want to let go of the rules and start practice being my wild, creative and anbound self again. That unshackled spirit I used to be, who painted when she felt like it and didn’t need any other reason than that it lit her up inside; who wrote stories because nothing felt more exciting than making them up and see them come to life; who just KNEW what being herself looked and felt like.
After writing this, I already feel closer to her.
I ask myself: what DO I want? How do I want to feel about my creative process, my business, my life? What if me being good enough was not related to my work, or my capitalistic “output and productivity?”
What if, I just surrender my struggle, fear and anger and listen for that voice inside of me, that part that just KNOWS, where I need to go next?
What if, I just followed my curiosity, like a cat follows the light of a laser pointer – and enjoyed the process?
What if, I let go of the rules and re-learnt what it means to do things my way?
What if, I accepted that right now this is all I’ve got and that it is enough?
Asking myself these questions and just surrendering to what I was truly feeling – being open and honest – allowed me to write and share this with you. And after a long time, it felt easy.
This is to you and me, because the world is a darker place when we are crippled by fear, rather than radiating joy and happiness into everything and everyone.
With love + gratitude,
PS: I am posting this at 3:50 AM on a Saturday even though I know that it is NOT the best time to post for my target audience and my posting days are supposed to be Fridays. Good bye rules!
The Good Enough Creative
A lot of us have internalised beliefs that keep us miserable + secretly thinking that our emotional suffering is a necessary [and even romantic] part of the creative process.
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