About 2 months ago I quit my job to go on a sabbatical to recover from burnout and embrace my creativity.
I was extremely burnt out from my 12 year career as a pharmacy program manager and several years in a toxic work environment. Experiencing life with out work stress clouding my mind has been a freeing experience.
As I’ve started embracing my creative energy, letting go of people pleasing and expectations, and tuning in to what matters to me, I am beginning to feel the beginnings of recovery from burn out. I am learning to be true to myself and I am so grateful for the opportunity.
Tuned In Today will share my journey, which I hope will inspire and empower other creatives to live the life they long for.
Let Go of People Pleasing
People pleasing has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. When I was a kid I would go along with what ever music my friends wanted to listen to, let them decide where we should roller skate and what we should do on a sleepover.
In my career, it wasn’t so benign.
I had a toxic co-worker for ten years. It brought my people pleasing to an all new level. I wasn’t trying to please this person. Instead, I was trying to stay “safe”. For me, it came to the point that I would never talk about anything personal at work. It bled into my personal life.
My people pleasing has always been out of fear of judgement. I wanted to do the “right” thing and have people like me. I’ve never done it manipulate people into getting what I want, rather it is out of a place of “safety”.
I felt like I was always hiding. I would only show the parts of me that I wanted people to see. I longed to be authentic but was too scared to let my true self be seen because mean things were so often said about me. It was very painful.
I reasoned that if mean things were said about the parts I showed, I had some control. They wouldn’t be able to say mean things about the things I really cared about because I refused to share those things with them. This is a miserable way to live. It is existing, not living.
I’ve recognized people pleasing in myself for years but have not wanted to admit how much it was holding me back from my true creative self. How much it was causing depression and anxiety.
No More Hiding
Now on sabbatical, I am in a place of safety. I feel safe with my family. I am grateful for this environment to change and grow, to feel free and confident again.
These are not easy things to admit about myself, but they are necessary in order to grow, have peace of mind, and freedom. I am thankful that I’ve been able to get to a point where I can acknowledge how detrimental my people pleasing was, and still can be, in my life. I am able to recognize it when it happens more often. I can admit that I am a recovering people pleaser.
I’ve been reading “The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” by Julia Cameron. It has been the perfect book for me as I learn to embrace my creativity and let go of expectations. I recommend checking this out from the library if it sparks even the tiniest bit of interest in you.
Permission to Be Creative
After a few months on sabbatical, I’ve come to realize that giving myself permission to be creative is one of the hardest parts of the creative process for me.
I have to stop worrying about what others will think about my work or what they will say about it. To be creative, I have to let go of the things I think society expects of me and instead embrace what I feel and know to be right for me.
I have to let go of my people pleasing.
Let Go Of Expectations
For too much of my life, I’ve lived according to what I think is “right”, what I “should” do, and what I think is “expected” of me. I’ve been a people pleaser. I’m working on letting that go.
I’ve been afraid that the right thing for me wouldn’t also be the right thing for my family. I’ve struggled with feeling selfish and have a fear that if I take care of my needs, I won’t have time or energy to take care of my family.
The irony, is that as I discuss my creative journey with my family, they are very supportive and encouraging, not judgmental, as my fears would have me believe. They are excited to see my creativity and to see the real me.
As I open up and follow my true self, I am seeing my kids do the same. They seem more relaxed, confident, and are embracing who they are, and pursuing their own passions. Isn’t that what every mom wants for her kids?
My epiphany moment was realizing that being true to my inner self is actually good for me and my family. My fears are not reality.
I am connecting with them more than ever. They can feel a difference in this newly relaxed mom.
I’ve started to accept that no matter what we do in life, there will always be someone who doesn’t like it.
It might seem safer to have someone dislike the self that I choose to show them and have a facade of control, instead of letting them dislike my true self, but then I loose my joy in life. It is better to be brave and embrace my true energy. This way, I can always be happy with who I am and the choices I am making for my life, even if they aren’t. I have no control over what other people think.
Following your true self, your inner energy, is a powerful force that leads to peace. Although I am certain that I’m only getting the first glimpse of this freedom, I know this is true. Holding back your true energy only leads to frustration, anger, resentment, bitterness, depression, and anxiety.
This month our city held its first chalk art festival. I really wanted to participate but was anxious to bring it up to my husband. I was worried he would think it was a little crazy.
After all, I’ve barely done any art in the past year and have never done big chalk art. I secretly hoped that when we talked about it, he would say no.
I was secretly afraid to do art so publicly. If he’d say no, I’d have an excuse for myself not to participate.
Sometimes, he knows me better than I know myself. He knew right away that I was excited but scared. He told me it was up to me to decide if I truly wanted to do it or not, he was not going to be the one holding me back. If anything stopped me from participating, it would be me.
I knew at that moment I had to be brave and sign up.
He fully supported me going to the festival. He even helped me. It was a blast doing art together!
I realized that frequently the hardest person to get permission from is myself. I’m so used to putting everyone and everything else before my heart’s desires that it just feels strange. It’s hard for me to say yes to myself. This is another hard thing to admit about myself, but completely worth noticing so that I can further my personal growth.
Be True To Yourself
It is time to share my true opinions and ideas. It is time for me to shine.
I will allow myself to embrace my creativity.
I will not hide my creativity or hide from it.
I will allow myself to feel that energy instead of thinking that my energy “should” show up in a different aspect of my life.
To allow creativity to flow in our lives we have to listen to our deepest desires, ideas, and longings. We have to be able to hear them. Then we can allow ourselves creative expression to let those things out and let them be seen.
This amount of expression can be scary if you have been hiding for a long time like I have been. It means letting others see your true self and letting others get to know you. If you’ve been hiding for a long time like me, I understand your struggle. It’s not easy!
The good news is that there is hope.
Start Expressing Small Things
As I start expressing myself in small ways I feel more empowered, more confident, and more peaceful.
If you are ready to let go of people pleasing and expectations and to embrace your true creative energy, I suggest starting by expressing small things that you would normally hold tight.
I’ve reasoned to myself that I don’t need to express the small things because they “don’t really bother me” or “don’t really matter”. Well, they do matter.
Small things matter because small things add up. When it’s the last straw and you just can’t take anymore, that’s the little things adding up. That last straw, those small things, that is what breaks the camel’s back.
I’ve experimented with expressing several little things this month that I would normally have waited for “approval” for or let go of all together.
I’ve transplanted a perennial where I wanted it to go, used cloth napkins at our girls night out, made fresh strawberry rhubarb desert and cupcakes just for fun, went for a walk when everyone else wanted to stay inside, and implemented tech free Sundays in our home despite desperate whining.
I encourage you to start expressing those small things. When every “last straw” isn’t piling up, it feels very freeing. A weight starts to lift! It also builds momentum, and courage to express the bigger things that you really do care “more” about.
I love this affirmation from the Artists’ Way; “As I create and listen, I will be led.” I’ve already noticed that as I listen to my creative energy, instead of ignoring it, doors have opened for me. May the same be true for you.