In the sleepy hours of a warm summer night, I dreamt I was at Disneyland, the happiest place on earth! While I was there, I was given a little girl to take care of for the day. She gave me her name, but I didn’t quite understand what she said since she wasn’t old enough to speak clearly.
We were enjoying our time together in the park. At one point in our adventures, I lost sight of her.
She was gone.
Strangely, I wasn’t worried. I knew I would find the little girl wherever Disneyland employees kept lost children. Instead of looking for her right away, I got distracted in conversations with others.
After what seemed like a long delay, I began my trek through the park to pick her up. I worried that the Disney employees wouldn’t return the little girl to me since I didn’t exactly know what her name was. I also worried they would judge me as being the type of person who leaves her young child all day. Only looking for free childcare at the park.
Then I woke up from my dream, confused and disturbed.
If I lost a child in real life, my emotions would have elevated to sheer panic within seconds of losing sight of her. It also bothered me that I didn’t take the time to get clear on her name. It wasn’t like me to be so nonchalant.
Thoughts about my dream weighed on my conscious like a thick fog. Permeating even the smallest crevices of my mind and disorienting my view. I searched for meaning with no avail.
Until the next day.
I thought about my next blog scheduled to post. I felt uncomfortable about promoting my creative work. It’s a dreaded and scary experience that sends shivers down my spine. Like when I unexpectedly walk into a massive spider web not knowing where the spider is. I can’t get it off of me fast enough!
My mind clutters with a web of “what-if” questions. What if people don’t like it? What if they don’t like me? What if I am too vulnerable about my weaknesses, struggles, and learning process? What if I lose credibility while I am in my learning curve? My fearful feelings keep me from moving forward, and I want to get out of them fast.
Then I ask myself different types of “what if” questions. What if I shifted my mindset? What if I thought of promoting my work as a privilege and an honor instead of a dreaded and scary experience? Like a parent who is proud of his or her child and wants to show her off to others.
As I ruminated these thoughts, tears began to well up in my eyes when I realized that the little girl in my dream represented my writing. My creative child, the one I was so nonchalant about losing and returning to again. My soul ached for how I was not advocating for my creative work by sharing it with others.
I live in fear of judgment for my writing and being seen as a failure. This fear showed up in my dream as a lack of care for that creative part of me. Not valuing it when it was right in front of me. No advocacy for my writing, my creative work.
This saddened me, and I grieved.
It also quickened my heart to make things different. To become a better parent for my creative child. Sharing my writing instead of clicking publish on my blog site with little or no promotion at all.
Instead of walking away from my completed work, I must lay down my pride and share it with others. Not because it’s a dreaded and scary experience but because it’s a privilege and an honor to advocate for that creative work.
As my dream continued to permeate my mind and soul, I kept thinking about that little girl.
I judged the person I was in my dream. Why didn’t I get clear on knowing her name? It brought to light my lack of clarity surrounding my writing. I judged myself in real life, too. Why don’t I have clarity in that area either?
When I shifted from academic writing to blogging, I experienced feelings of uncertainty. I didn’t know the direction my writing would take or what I would write about. My perfectionistic self said that I am supposed to have clarity before I start. My creative side replied that clarity is not a prerequisite in the learning process.
It will develop if I keep showing up in my writing. So I continue to write.
Have you ever started something new and didn’t quite know where it would take you? It’s okay if you don’t see how it will all pan out. Keep pursuing despite the fear and uncertainty.
Clarity will come if we keep showing up in this creative space and trust the process of discovery, the slow unfolding, and revealing process.
I also think about that little girl in my dream who was not my own but temporarily in my care.
Our talents are much the same way. Not our own but given to us while we are here on this earth to develop like small children into adulthood. Preparing them for a world where they can make an impact beyond our lifetimes.
We don’t know how they will turn out in the end. Yet we commit. Even though there are difficulties, exhaustion, heartache, and exhilaration. We support, encourage, and advocate for them throughout their lifetimes.
We will do our best to ensure a part of us will live on through them, leaving our legacy.
I’ve thought about my writing in this way when I look back. My children, grandchildren, and the ones yet to be born will read about my journey. They will feel a sense of connection to me because of it.
Through my writing, I hope they learn that it’s never too late to start something new. That it’s okay to begin even if we don’t have the outcome as clearly in our minds as we would like. It will be messy, scary, but most of all, exhilarating.
This leads to my question for you.
What is your creative child?
What creative talent of yours needs nurturing, supporting, or promoting? If you could step past your fears of failure, judgment, or even success and follow your creative heart, what would you develop?
The ideas are endless!
It’s never too late. We are never too old to step out and develop the talents that lie within us. The world needs your creative work. Shared for others to see, experience, and appreciate. Forging a connection and creating a legacy beyond your lifetime.
Written by Sharon Krueger
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on sharonkrueger.com
In-Text Image 1 by Jorge Martinez
In-Text Image 2 by Green Chameleon
Featured Image by Jelleke Vanooteghem