A few weeks ago, at my request, I received a writing prompt from my best friend. I’m a slow, laborious writer and yearn to get better at writing quicker and with more frequency. Weekly writing prompts seem like a good way to practice and even better to have someone to discuss them with!
Then I read the prompt:
If I could spend an hour with 25 year-old me, I would tell her….
My brain immediately met these words with resistance.
I willingly asked her to do this, I reminded myself. I wanted the push of a regular writing practice, I reminded myself.
But still, no! This is not the kind of prompt I meant! I’ve spent a lot of time and energy this past year letting go of things, accepting what can’t be changed, and living in the present. I only want to write about the beauty of nature and how we can be at one with the Divine Force, not revisit the past! This prompt is too real, too raw, too direct. There’s no subtly here, I thought.
I begrudgingly approached it anyway and in a very uninspired fashion, I started with a list. Here is what I initially wrote while I was feeling very snarky about the whole thing…
What I would tell my 25 year old self:
Don’t care what other people think
Trust yourself more
Boring stuff and not particularly clever, but I decided to let that sit for a couple days. In the meantime, I was formulating how I would tell my friend that I was going to take a pass on this prompt. It’s only the first one and we’re just getting into the swing of this practice, so of course it may take a few prompts before it really starts to flow. I gave it a try and will try harder next time… so says my rationalizing self.
And then four days later, it hit me. This struggle is the whole reason I wanted to start this practice and it doesn’t matter what the prompt is. Not to say that struggle is absolutely necessary, but forming a new practice – building new muscles – can feel weird at first and that weirdness feels like a struggle. I’m not used to writing on a weekly basis and on a topic that was given to me rather than my own idea. This is new to me and it feels weird.
The purpose of my best friend sending me a writing prompt each week is to stretch and develop those muscles; the muscles that make my brain reach and expand; the muscles that magically form my thoughts into beautifully written sentences.
Then it occurred to me that I actually did have an answer to the prompt – If I could spend an hour with 25 year-old me, I would tell her….
Do those things that make you feel weird until they don’t feel weird anymore.
I wish that I had a daily practice like I do now when I was 25. The main reason I didn’t was because I was impatient. It takes a level of dedication that I did not possess at the time to develop a meaningful daily practice. Patience and commitment is something that can come with age, but at any point in your life it can also be developed with practice – even, and especially, when it feels weird.
A lot of people have written about the topic of developing and sticking with a daily practice. I know I’m not necessarily saying anything new here, but every time I read a post someone has written about this topic I am re-inspired. Their particular take on it, reading about their particular experience, always gives me a new perspective on my own practice.
It also re-inspires me on those practices I want to start developing. It can be especially hard when you already have a daily practice and you want to expand it – like jogging three miles until it becomes effortless and wanting to extend it to five miles. It’s easy to stop where you feel comfortable and say, “this is good enough and at least I’m doing something.” The rationale of this thought is that doing something is better than doing nothing, which is not false, but doesn’t mean that’s where your practice ends. Are you done growing and changing and learning? Of course not and I really don’t know anyone who would say they are.
So what happens when you start jogging five miles after three feels like nothing? It feels weird. It feels uncomfortable. But when you know and have experienced the rewards that sticking with it will bring, the weirdness is worth it. What happened when I decide to make the subject of my writing prompt about the fact that I didn’t want to write about it? It felt weird. It felt uncomfortable. But it worked because I still ended up doing the practice. And the weirdness was totally worth it.
With love, as always,