From the first moment that I was brave enough to announce that I was writing a novel, I have had the good fortune of being surrounded by many gentle cheerleaders. Those family members and friends and acquaintances who, anytime they saw me, would ask about my progress. Unfortunately, due to my perpetual lack of said progress, my answers were often vague and semi-evasive, which limited the likelihood of follow up questions and prompted the asker to move the conversation to safer, more comfortable ground. But only after reminding me of their desire to be informed once I completed the novel.
If you happen to be one of those people, let me first thank you for your encouragement. Although it may not have seemed like it at the time, your sincere interest and inquiries, kept me going. Secondly, in case you missed my post on Monday—which you should definitely go back and read—consider this your official notice: I have finished the novel manuscript. The big edit is done, as well as a final read-through, which provoked a few minor tweaks here and there. So as of today, the manuscript is resting peacefully while I am taking some time to focus on the upcoming holiday.
I’ll write more over the following weeks about what’s up next, but for now, I am kind of in a weird haze, vacillating between relief and disbelief. I’m not exactly sure what I expected—Tears of joy? An impromptu, celebratory dance? A sense of satisfaction?—but it certainly wasn’t this. After typing the words “The End” I didn’t anticipate that the first feelings I noticed would be the same ones that picked at me throughout the entire process: fear and doubt. Is it good enough? Am I good enough? Are my words worthy of publication?
Over the last many weeks, during The ABCs of a Purposeful WIP series, I’ve talked about many things that can both fuel our journey toward our goals and many that can hold us back from reaching them. But I think a lot of the poor habits and automatic behaviors and negative thought patterns many of us fall into actually stem from underlying feelings of unworthiness. We don’t consider ourselves worthy of success. We don’t believe our gifts and talents and abilities are valuable enough to share with the world. Thoughts like these are unmotivating for sure. They keep us stuck. They keep us from trying. When we wrestle with the belief that what we have to offer is unimportant, then we are tempted to hide away. And when we get cozy in that comfortable little box we live in, with our comfortable old mindsets, it becomes really difficult to grow and change and make progress.
The trick is to remember that our value isn’t a function of others. Our worth isn’t dependent on approval and opinions, nor is it wrapped up in what we can do or what we accomplish or how much money we make. We have worth, innately and eternally, by our very existence. God created us each for purpose, for love, and we are worthy of that love, His love, without needing to do anything to earn it. (As an aside: Please don’t misunderstand this as an invitation to lean toward laziness because we are all called to contribute to the goodness of mankind through the use of our God-given gifts. We are all called to help each other using those same gifts.)
This is a tough concept for me, for us all, but it is especially difficult to accept when your work is, at its core, reliant on another person’s judgment. Whether or not my book gets published will be determined by someone else seeing the value in my words. But the value of my words will not increase or decrease based on that recognition. I still wrote them. I still benefitted greatly from having written them.
As another example, let’s say you make the decision to be healthier. You start working out, eating a more balanced diet, and soon you’ve shed those extra fifty pounds. You feel great, your treat yourself to a whole new wardrobe, and your overall outlook is incredibly improved. But what if no one noticed? What if no one called attention to how amazing you look? Would that change the value of your achievement? No. Naturally, we all get a little lift from praise and accolades, but even without it, even if no one remarked about your improved health, your body would still feel the positive effects of those new and better habits.
So when you think about that goal, when you think about taking the leap and doing that thing that’s been on your heart to do, don’t worry about gaining the approval and acceptance of others. Doing so gives away the power of your own worth, and while you may initially succeed in winning them over, people are fickle and will eventually move on to the next big thing, taking your power with them. Instead, wake up to your own worth. Believe that you are capable. Believe that you are loved. Believe that the light you carry inside is valuable, so let it shine courageously, confidently, and purposefully.