The Struggle

The Struggle

I am struggling. I am very content with my life, which has and continues to be full of opportunities and blessings. I have been fortunate to have participated in and accomplished different projects that have allowed me to express myself and develop my talents. I am proud of the things that I have achieved, yet I still continue to struggle every day.

I am blessed with a career that I enjoy that allows me to be satisfied and live a comfortable life. I am blessed to have a wonderful marriage that enriches my life and provides constant encouragement and support, and the joy to know that I can offer the same encouragement to my wife. We own a modest home that provides us with shelter and comfort and also the space for each of us to pursue our passions for the creative lives that we desire, but still, I continue to struggle.

Am I unhappy? Not at all! Am I unfulfilled? I may have projects or ideas that I want to pursue but all the things that I have already accomplished hold value and pride for me. Am I wondering what could or might have been if I had made different decisions or chosen a different path? This rarely crosses my mind these days.  What if I could start over again? Would I still continue to struggle? The answer is yes.

It is in our nature to question things. We look at opportunities that we see and we begin to struggle with the decisions that we make. We procrastinate on projects we long to accomplish because of fear. We don’t take the risks we need to in order to get us closer to the dreams that we desire.

Why do we continue to struggle? What are the reasons that we constantly challenge ourselves with or why do we always question the decisions that we have made? Upon reflection of the things that I am constantly struggling with in my own life, I can break these down to the following four factors:

1. Vision

We all have dreams or things that we long to achieve. Often what we struggle with is the vision- not just the results we believe we desire, but the true vision to see how we can invest in and accomplish our dreams.

We see what others have accomplished and we long to have our own creative outlets, but too often we struggle over the desires of someone else’s dreams and achievements and not really knew what we want or are meant to accomplish in our own lives. We want to be successful, but do we really know just want we want to be successful at? You need to take time and reflect on just who you are and what you truly want to be.

2. Voice

We may know, or believe that we are convinced we know what we want to achieve, but then we begin to question what makes us unique. Despite the plan that’s clearly in our minds and desires of what we want to achieve, we neglect the work because of the fear of not knowing what or how to express what we want to accomplish.

We start to question our own abilities for fear of not having an original voice and being perceived as just producing results that others have already accomplished. What ends up happening is that we silence our own progress for fear of not having to the confidence to believe we have a unique artistic voice. We lose our confidence to do what we are called to do. Everyone is unique and has value, so embrace your ideas and see where they lead. No one else can be you.

3. Value

We did it. We took the first steps and invested the time to produce the work that we longed to achieve. We should be proud of ourselves and our accomplishments and know that the completion of the work is a sign of strength and discipline, and your accomplishment should be celebrated. What happens to us though is instead of celebrating the steps we took and the achievements we made, we look at the work that we have done and begin to question its value.

Is it good enough? It didn’t turn out as we originally intended and now we question the standards of our work. We assume that if we present it to others, all they will see is our perceived flaws and therefore our hard work no longer has value or worth. All work that is completed has value and we need to understand that despite the constant potential for improvement (there is always ways to change and make things better); the true value of any work is the opportunity to learn and grow.

4. Validation

We have completed our work, but often the most difficult part of the process is to accept it as done and release it into the world. We all want to achieve a high standard of excellence, but now that we are done, are we ready (or able) to let others view our efforts?

We present our work for others to experience and sit back to await feedback or criticism. Our work is very personal to us and we are often too afraid to share it with others because we long for the validation that our efforts proved to be worthy. We struggle because we are expecting others to only see the flaws that we see in our own work. In order for us to gain the confidence to continue our work, we seek validation.

We must remember that all work is open to personal interpretation and we need to understand that all validation is positive because even criticism can offer you encouragement by giving you the tools and tips to apply to any future work. If we always believe the positive comments, we must be open to the constructive ones as well.  The true validation of your work is the sense of knowing that you completed it and that is the real accomplishment.

Throughout my life, I have achieved success and validation for my efforts and yet I continue to struggle every day. The biggest sense of shame or failure that I deal with is for the all the work that I was too scared to embrace or for the opportunities that I let slip away because I didn’t believe in myself enough to try.

I am constantly afraid to tackle projects that I do not believe I have the skills to complete and yet one of my passions is to learn new things and embrace the potential to develop my skills for the things I am passionate about.

I struggle to find the confidence to try things that are unfamiliar for fear that they won’t turn out as I need them to in order to feel validated. What I have experienced though, is when I do take on these challenges and embrace the opportunity to learn a new skill in order to achieve these things, is an incredible sense of pride in my ability to overcome my own perceived challenges.

It can be emotional and overwhelming but you need to embrace them in order to grow and this will empower you to reach towards your dreams and desires.

There are many aspects that come together allowing us to live a life of passion and purpose and we need to embrace the opportunities that are presented to us to grow and become the people that we are meant to be.

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