By Matt Hearnden
I was nervous when I first published a post, and I get nervous now when I publish a post. I wonder if you’ll like it. I wonder if it’s good enough.
If you want to write, post a short story on Facebook.
If you want to paint, post a painting on Instagram.
If you want to sing, post a song on YouTube.
If you want to start a business, send ideas to every person you know to get feedback.
When I’m judged, I learn. I learn what people like, what they want, what they need.
I learn about myself. I learn how I handle failure, I learn whether or not I put my ego aside and listen to feedback, I learn whether or not I’m strong enough to keep going.
I learn who I am.
I wanted more than almost anything to be “productive,” but I’m not even sure I knew what it meant because I thought to be productive I had to never stop.
I’d feel guilty if I stopped. I’d feel guilty if I slept for “too long.” I’d feel guilty if I was being anything other than productive.
All that helped me to be was exhausted and unhappy.
Now, I make time to be still and I’m more productive than ever because being still gives me clarity, and clarity releases motivation, and motivation ignites productivity.
Also, being still is fun. It’s relaxing. It’s peaceful.
I never knew how important feeling at peace was until I was brave enough to say “no” to being frantic and “yes” to being still.
Go out every Friday and Saturday night.
Drink alcohol. Get drunk. Go out clubbing.
Dance. Drink. Dance.
Drink. Drink. Drink.
Home. Vomit. Bed.
Wake up. Vomit. Hungover.
Hungover. Hungover. Hungover.
Do it every weekend. Why not, right? It’s fun, right?
I did this for a while and eventually I got sick of it because it filled me until I was hollow.
It was fun, sometimes, in the moment. But spending every weekend drinking, chasing girls, feeding my tinnitus, feeling hungover? Is that how I wanted to keep treating myself? Didn’t I deserve more than that?
And that’s exactly why I’m saying to do it. Do it until you can’t think of anything worse than doing it again.
Maybe you’ll be pulled towards something that matters to the real you.
Keep a journal.
I started to keep a journal after I did something I didn’t feel I could confess to anyone.
It’s ok. They won’t find the body.
It felt like relief was pouring from my heart and into my mind and down to my fingers and onto the page.
I felt like I was being saved.
You have thoughts you’d never say out loud to anyone. Maybe not even to yourself. What would happen if you released them?
In your mind is where they get their oxygen, where they prod you, bully you, cloak you with worry.
Out of your mind is where they dissolve into the universe, the universe that’s been around for nearly 14 billion years, the universe that’s been solving problems for as long as it’s existed.
Also, you might find you love writing. Or being honest. Or sharing your story.
Maybe you’ll find you.
Do something you know is wrong.
When I do something I know is wrong, despite my own protesting, despite begging for the pretending to stop, it slices me open.
But it makes me realise how good it feels to be me. How peaceful it feels. How whole I feel.
So, ignore your gut. Dismiss your unconscious mind. Tell that little voice, the voice of the real you, to shut up.
Be who you’re not.
Give advice to someone.
Someone wiser than me once told me “there’s not much that pisses people off more than unwanted therapy.”
Whenever your friends are telling you about a problem, whenever you hear someone speaking about a problem, whenever you see someone tweet or put something on Facebook or a post a telling quote to Instagram, notice what advice you’d give them.
I used to say, “I don’t take my own advice.” I think everyone I know has said it at some point.
How little do we think of ourselves that we’d give advice to other people, to help them, to save them, but not take it ourselves? Do we respect ourselves at all? Don’t we deserve more than that?
Are you living the advice you’d give?
Notice how you talk to yourself.
If you say “I can’t” or “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t believe in myself,” would you tolerate someone saying “you can’t” or “you’re not good enough” or “I don’t believe in you?”
And yet we think it’s ok to talk to ourselves like that, the person who we spend literally every single millisecond of our entire lives with.
How many times have you sworn at yourself? Told yourself to shut up? Ignored yourself?
Many times, if you’re anything like me.
I’d hate someone who did that to me.
Get a boring job.
I’ve had a number of boring jobs. In a food shop, in a clothes shop, in a restaurant. I dreaded them.
At the time, I hated them. Now, I’m grateful for them.
I was fired from the job at the clothes shop. You can find out why in my new book.
Before I was fired I knew how boring I found the job, how my soul ached, how mindless I’d become while I was there.
It made me unhappy.
But it also made me think.
“I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life.”
Being unhappy set fire to my ambition.
I always knew I wanted more, but now I’d actually done a job I hated, I certainly knew I never, ever, wanted a job like that again.
Being that bored, that unhappy, every day for the rest of my life?
We’re told we should never give up.
I wholeheartedly disagree.
I love giving up.
Being less than I am.
Being someone I’m not.
I want to give those things up constantly.
Because I’ve tried them all and what I found was worry, and pain, and unhappiness.
When I judge myself, I can’t love myself.
When I pretend not to know, I pretend not to care.
When I wear a mask, I’m telling myself I’m not good enough.
When I’m anything less than who I am, I’m less than I deserve.
When I’m someone I’m not, I’m wasting who I am.
Don’t I deserve more than that?
Don’t I deserve to give up?
Image: Alex Wong