Two weeks ago I finished the first draft of my book. I’ve wanted to write this book for years, but one of the main reasons I resisted actually doing it for so long was that I thought it’d be a lonely process. I imagined myself spending many bleary-eyed hours by myself in front of a computer screen. This sad vision kept me from following through on any of my book ideas.
Perhaps I never would have done it on my own, but luckily, I found a program to help me. Not only did investing in my future book make me accountable within a nine-week framework, it gave me a support network of people who were also diving deep into their own creative process right alongside me.
Of course the writing process had its ups and downs, but overall, I enjoyed my three weeks of cathartic writing on self-care and relationships much more than I ever imagined (my week in Mexico helped a lot). I’ve become friends with the other people in my program, and I’m really excited to publish at the same time as some of them this December.
However, what has surprised me the most is how hard it’s been to celebrate this huge accomplishment.
When I was on the other side of writing my book, celebrating its completion felt like the dreamy part. I would get a Thai massage and go out for a fancy dinner. I would have a carefree day at the beach. I would finally buy a new computer that didn’t take 20 minutes to restart.
I’ve done (or tried to do) most of the items on my “book celebration list,” but I’ve struggled to enjoy any of them. Instead of being ecstatic, I’ve felt anxious. Strangely, the solitary part of this journey has been in actually rewarding myself.
As I often do when I am struggling, I turned to the Tarot for answers on why this felt so hard. The card that kept appearing in my readings was the Five of Pentacles. As you can see, this is a pretty grim scene. Two beggars wander in the snow, hoping for charity. They are so fixated on their state of poverty that they can’t see the warm windows of the church above, beckoning them to come inside.
I asked my amazing Tarot-reading friend, Michelle, about her thoughts on the Five of Pentacles, and here’s what she wrote me:
Quantum physics recently confirmed that our reality is an outcome of our thoughts. What we observe is due to how we observe it. The Five of Pentacles card displays this truth regarding how we think about our financial well-being. It symbolizes a crippling fear of lack of abundance, but more importantly, a belief in scarcity. Money is nothing but energy, and energy is infinite. There is no lack of prosperity, only our conviction that we don't have enough and that we have to struggle to get by. This card shows us the harsh reality of this poisoned thinking. Its underlying message is to dissolve the unfavorable narrative around wealth and the defeatist attitude that creates shortage. It asks us to positively infuse our understanding of worth and security with the knowledge that there is always enough and more. At the very heart of this card's meaning, it welcomes us to generate self-love. That is the seed from which we can naturally manifest abundance.
I knew that what was holding me back was a scarcity mentality. It’s the chain-reaction of thoughts of “not enoughness.”
You know how it goes, right? “I am not enough, I don’t have enough, I don’t do enough. If I truly celebrate myself, then I will lose all motivation to work harder. If I am truly happy than I lose all hope of changing all of my fatally flawed parts.”
Obviously, I’m good at the working hard part. I wrote a 160-page book in three weeks for chrissake! Yet I will continue to wander in the freezing cold in my poverty mentality until I see that I am also worth celebrating.
Celebrating myself is a deep form of self-care. Celebrating myself tells me that I don’t need to change. Celebrating pulls me from the beautiful yet empty fantasies of my mind and deposits me into the real yet messy realities of my life. It asks me to gently greet my own fears of success and holds my hand as I continue to walk through my fear.
As with all forms of self-care, I look back at my history of role models. My parents were notoriously bad at celebrating themselves, and my grandparents were probably worse. It felt overly indulgent, in my family, to take a load off and relax with a job well-done. I really haven’t seen it done too often before.
But I know celebration is essential if I don’t want to burn out. So I must try. I give myself permission to be bad at celebrating until it feels more natural. An awkward start is still a start. Tears are ok.
Letting go of working hard and taking care of others will most certainly show me the insecurity that’s inside me. It will ask me to befriend the part of me that wanders alone. Celebration wants me to confront my deeper fear that all of the goodness will run out if I rest for a moment.
Our culture tells us to hide our insecurity and put on a brave face. Yet I know that until I accept the part of me that is deeply insecure, I will never truly be confident. The more I try to run from one end of the polarity, the more elusive the other side becomes.
It’s ok to be both insecure and confident. It’s ok to be successful and afraid. For me, it’s the only way that makes sense. True leaders and change-agents are usually the people that have faced these shadowy elements in themselves. Otherwise, we have too many internal blocks that keep us from evolving into our higher and higher potentials.
We are everything. If you can’t find it, just look deeper. If you are resting in the warmth of the church, know that soon you’ll be out in the snow. If you’re wandering afraid, know that you can come inside whenever you get too cold.
Service helps, because it reminds us that no matter how low we feel, we can help others. Laughter helps, too. We need to humanize ourselves when we get too arrogant. It helps to bring consciousness to these self-defeating patterns.
From there, we can slowly practice a different way of being. We can realize that we aren’t flawed people needing to be fixed, but rather preciously creative beings who can be cared for with gentleness.
So I’m practicing. My fingers are flying lightly over my beautiful new gold computer, and I’m feeling a little less guilt for the seemingly extravagant purchase. I’m planning a fun date for myself later today that will involve fancy coffee in a sweet new locale. I’m considering asking for support in planning a day at the beach that feels truly fun, because I didn’t succeed when I tried by myself.
Little by little, I’m becoming more of myself--a kickass published author, a laughably bad celebrator, a truly human being.