While we were in Egypt, we had a guide with us the entire time. Better than a nanny, he told us what time to get up, when to eat, where to stand, what to take pictures of, and saw to our every need. It was marvelous. And kind of a bummer to come home and once again be completely responsible for my own life.
It’s occurred to me (and several other people from that trip who miss the daily nurturing) that it would be lovely to have a guide like that in day-to-day life. Someone to just tell me what to do ‘cause this life thing is hard to figure out on my own.
I believe I got my wish.
This is a process, so follow me here. A couple of weeks ago I attended an early-morning networking meeting. I was conflicted about attending. This would be my second visit as a guest and while there was no question I enjoyed the people in the group, I had an unsettled feeling in the pit of my stomach. Is this it? I kept asking myself. Is business writing--websites, logos, press releases-- what I want to be doing with my life?
And did it matter? Work is work. I shrugged off the doubt and headed to the meeting. That afternoon, someone I'd met there called and talked to me about writing some local and national press releases. I agreed to quote the job but felt deflated as I hung up the phone.
Later that day a friend called and we ended up talking about a passage he’d found in a writer’s book:
Each of us carries around inside ourselves a mental picture of the kind of person we are…. This self-concept is at the heart of our opinion of ourselves – how much we like ourselves, how much confidence we feel, etc. – and we live our lives in large measure to be in consonance of this self-concept, and to enhance it. Our self-concept is our most precious mental and emotional possession.
Any significant change can and probably will threaten [the] self-concept. In other words, some external change in the environment [can put someone] out of kilter vis-à-vis their self-concept.
You may be thinking that the simplest thing… to do is change [the] self-concept…, but it’s been psychologically proven that the self-concept is so deeply engrained, and so devoutly protected, that most people will go to almost any lengths to protect it as it stands today.
This got me thinking about my self-concept. And guess what—it’s not as a business writer. Magazine writer, yes. Cat/humor writer – you betcha. But press release writer? Branding expert? Not so much. Which perhaps explains why I feel so out of kilter every time I’m called upon to perform as one.
Later that same day I happened to bump into a friend of mine. I expressed remorse about accepting the press release job and noted it's becoming more and more clear to me that I don’t want to make my mark on the world through business writing. I want to write books, but, I said, I’m hung up on the earning money issue. I have huge guilt over what would amount to me not contributing income for a significant period if I pursued book writing.
“Does Blair pressure you to bring in income?” asked my friend.
Mr. Wonderful? Not a chance. “No, not at all. It’s all me," I said.
“You need to learn to let go of guilt.”
Tomorrow - PART II: More "coincidences" and tying it all together.