So it turns out, what makes for good novels also makes for an interesting and fulfilling life.
The basic (basic) rule of writing novels is to give your characters obstacles. Your characters have to experience conflict. They need obstacles to overcome. They need inner turmoil to wrestle with. Act 1: you get them up a tree. Act 2: you throw rocks at them in the tree. Act 3: you let them get down. If they’re not having at least some kind of a hard time, it’s going to be a boring book.
So when you get those obstacles in your own life? Be grateful for them. Those trying times are going to be the bits of your life you remember. The parts that you look back on and think, ‘Yep, that’s when I realized that I can do this.’ When you put yourself way out of your comfort zone you are forced to deal, forced to come up with answers that you didn’t have before. That is when you will find you.
It’s taken me a long time to come around to this way of thinking. I chose Brave as my One Little Word a couple years ago, because that is not my natural inclination. Most of my life I have been generally risk-averse, talking myself out of things that might even have a tiny chance to fail. Taking safe, responsible choices and (honestly) living a pretty average life.
And I realized that mind set wasn’t helping me.
I want to be more than average. I want to be better than that.
Instead, once I started paying attention, all of my best decisions were brave and potentially very very risky. Quitting a day job, dropping several thousand dollars on a writing weekend, moving to Virginia… I don’t have a long history of brave decisions in my life, but I am committed to making more.
Honestly, the fact that I moved coast-to-coast, totally alone except with 2 cats makes me feel so tough. So strong. So proud. Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I am so so glad I did it.
The same way conflict makes for a good novel, I welcome the harder parts of my life because they will help me grow.
So say yes to that speaking engagement, or invest that money in manufacturing your new stamp line. Even risk being vulnerable with a new friend …
These last couple years when I have consciously tried to be more brave have been the most rewarding. Every day I feel more and more like ME.
Go get yourself in trouble. Take a risk. F*ck up and find your own way.
P.S. I love Kam’s From a Beginner series for regular examples of taking small risks and regularly getting out of her comfort zone.