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creativity

The Fear of Starting Something New
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The Fear of Starting Something New

I was going to title this “Overcoming the Fear of Starting Something New” but to be honest I don’t have the answers to overcoming it, so instead I’m starting a conversation about facing it head on and quieting that fear voice.

Every time I experience some large amount of change or embark on a journey of starting something new, my anxiety and the fear voice in my head are turned up to full volume. I don’t really know when or how this started with me because I actually welcome change. I truly believe starting new things and going out of your comfort zone are essential to growth, yet I still encounter this fear voice.

Fear of the Unknown

Why does this little fear voice pop up in our heads? I think it pops up for many reasons. I’m someone who likes to know the plan. I’m extremely curious and tend to (attempt) to predict all the “what-ifs”. I think we fear the unknown when we start something new. Whether that’s a new job, a new creative project, getting assigned a new account or assignment, starting at a new school, making new friends, starting a blog, the list goes on and on! We fear committing to something new and putting ourselves out there. We fear messing up or failing, we might even fear succeeding and knowing that our lives will change—even if that means small changes from our daily routine. It’s like walking down a flight of stairs, except it’s pitch dark at the end. If you can’t tell where or when you’ll take your next step, it’s hard to be 100% fearless right?

The only way out, is straight through

I think we’ll all probably experience this fear voice throughout our lives—it means our goals and dreams are big enough to scare us into taking action. But the only way to turn that fear volume down is to tackle the fear head on. Don’t put it off, don’t try to find ways around whatever it is that you’re about to begin, just do it. And sit in that fear and be honest with yourself why you’re feeling that fear.

I’ve heard many people say they try to talk themselves out of feeling anxious, nervous, or fearful about starting something new. I hear this all the time with auditions. I think that’s the less helpful approach. We’re not trying to trick ourselves by repeating some version of “don’t be scared” in our heads. Instead, if we get real with ourselves about why we’re fearful or nervous, it might lead to a more clear understanding of how to approach the situation and realize that the fear voice is totally unnecessary.

I recently started a new job in digital marketing and I really wanted this job! It was perfect for my schedule, the women I would be working with were so nice, and I thrived in the area I would be responsible for. So when I got the call that I actually got the job, you know what happened? Fear. Panic. Anxiety. The what-ifs came flooding in and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what changed so quickly. I had to sit in that feeling for a day before I realized it’s because I was trying to predict how everything would go. I felt such unease not knowing what my day-to-day would be like, especially when I had my routine down to a T this past year. I think this all goes back to something I had talked about on my Instagram last week. We can CHOOSE to not be stressed. If we’re conscious of that fear voice, we can try to be more conscious in how we deal with it.

So whenever that fear voice pops up for us, let’s remember these things:

  • Breathe
  • Don’t ignore the fear voice. Try to figure out what’s underneath that.
  • Realize that none of us can predict how anything will go, we can only try our best.
  • Know that we have a CHOICE. We can choose how to feel and react to the fear and ultimately, we have a choice about the path we take. Maybe whatever it is you’ve begun really isn’t right for you or your life. You can choose to not go down that path.
  • Truly recognize that everything happens for a reason and everything will be okay.

Maybe I should bookmark this blog for myself too 😉

How do you navigate the fear of starting something new?

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10 Influential Women to Read, Watch, or Listen to For Major Inspiration

influential women to read, watch, or listen to for major inspiration

There are honestly so many inspiring and influential women out there, but I thought I would share 10 women that ignite passion, motivation, and encouragement in their own unique ways. Whether it’s through their blogs, books, podcasts, or Youtube channels, all of these women will bring some serious inspiration into your life!

1.   Lauren Hooker of Elle & Company:

When I came across Lauren’s blog during the building stages of my website, it was like stumbling across a treasure chest of all things branding, growing your business, creating amazing content, and SO much more! For any creative entrepreneur out there, this is one woman you don’t want to miss. Every single one of her blog posts is so helpful, she truly focuses on serving her readers, and her content is unmistakable, it’s that good. When I say that, I really mean EVERY single blog post is purposeful and I walk away from reading with a new idea or strategy for my business. Not only does she have a blog, but she goes above and beyond with her Elle Chats, a weekly webinar, and she also offers E-courses (I can’t wait to sign up for the Adobe one)

2.   Maya of Shameless Maya:

If the name doesn’t already give it away, Maya Washington is an extremely talented and influential Youtuber who inspires you to share who you are and celebrate that shamelessly! I love her videos because she really encourages you to go out there and not care what other people think and to follow your passion with all your heart. Maya has an unmistakable style and vibe about her that will make you binge watch all her videos! I also love her Tech Talk videos, they’re super informational in an engaging way. Also talk about being a #ConstantCreative, Maya is also a creative producer and actor who stars in Google’s Original Series, God Complx and Feature Film, Alaska is a Drag.

3.   Hannah Gale:

The first blog I ever read of hers made me laugh out loud, literally! This gal is so funny, down to earth, and also quite inspiring. Her wit and humor will draw you in, but her well thought out blog posts with thoughtful content will keep you there. She’s all about being YOU, whatever that may look like. She shares her life and her heart on her blog and also on her YouTube channel. She’s a major influencer in the blogging/beauty/fashion world and you should check her out ASAP.

4.   Natalie Franke of The Rising Tide Society:

Being in The Rising Tide Society has changed my journey as a creative and so has the incredibly inspiring Natalie Franke. In the spirit of #communityovercompetition, Natalie started a community where creative entrepreneurs can band together to encourage, learn with, and inspire each other. Whether it’s through the Facebook page (which is nearing 100,000 members quickly and you should absolutely join as a creative) or via the weekly TuesdaysTogether the Rising Tide Society holds, she’s a voice in the creative community this generation needs. Natalie has her own blog with such valuable content and she also has a pretty strong vlogging game on her Youtube channel! Maybe it’s because she started The Rising Tide Society in her early 20’s or maybe it’s because she likes coffee as much as I do, either way, she’s one influential and inspiring chick!

5.   Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman of A Beautiful Mess:

This was one of the first blogs I EVER read, isn’t that crazy? I remember checking their blog religiously to see if they had added any new posts, I was obsessed. Sisters Elsie and Emma have created an empire with A Beautiful Mess and it’s for good reason. Their blog really resonates with me because you can see that they’re passionate about different things and didn’t want to be confined to one topic, a lot like myself I would say. Plus, their blog is total eye –candy! On A Beautiful Mess, you’ll find blogs on everything from food, décor, hair tutorials, crafts, blogging, travel, fashion, you name it! They truly have a colorful outlook on life that makes them stand apart from the crowd and inspires people like me (and you) every day! Elsie and Emma not only have a blog, but they also have an entire shop full of books, apps, classes, planners, a Happy Mail subscription, and so much more! What else could they possibly have?! Oh yeah, a popular DIY Youtube channel. If I had to say what I hope my blog will become one day, A Beautiful Mess has set the standard for me!

6.   Maya Elious:

You can pretty much just call her the content queen! She helps creative women strategize with purpose-driven content and the second I downloaded one of her guides, I was hooked! She has a killer blog and so many freebies that will challenge you with your content in the best way possible. Maya also has a YouTube channel that I recently came across and she’s all about helping you find your purpose and grow overall as a person. All of her videos are so inspiring, SO uplifting, and really encouraging. I think she said it best when she says: “It’s time for you to step into your purpose, strategize your business, and be the boss you know you’re meant to be.

7.   Reese Witherspoon:

Not only is she one of my all-time favorite actresses (and I hope I get to work with her one day) but she also started a #ForTheLoveOfReading book club that’s run exclusively on Instagram called @rwbookclub. There’s no formal website, instead she starts a conversation with her followers to pick the next book—the perfect kind of book club for the Millennial generation, right? I’m a bit of a romantic when it comes to books and the written word and I love that she’s keeping book clubs alive in this social media driven world. Also, she puts out AMAZING film and television content with her Pacific Standard production company who focuses primarily on female-driven stories. So yeah, #GoReeseGo

8.   Julie Solomon:

Oh man, it was like hitting a gold mine with Julie! I stumbled across her Instagram which eventually led me to her Pitch It Perfect course and that was one of the best decisions I could have made since I knew I eventually wanted to start my own blog, and here we are! Her Pitch It Perfect course is a must-do and I really walked away from that course feeling so much more confident in navigation collaborations and reaching out to brands. There’s even more good stuff on branding, pitching, blogging, and social media on her blog. She also just launched an amazing podcast called The Influencer podcast that’s my latest addiction! Seriously, this is another one that I have on repeat in my car because I love soaking up all the great information this podcast has. I love that she is so passionate about what she does, but in such a relatable way. She’s so encouraging and engaged with her audience, I know you will feel the same way about her too!

9.   Jenna Kutcher:

She’s another one that I gush about to people all the time, this girl is the real deal! You really do end up feeling like her best friend after reading her blog or listening to her podcast—both which absolutely top the blogging and podcasting charts, at least in my opinion. I actually came across The Goal Digger Podcast first and I think that’s all I listened to in my car for a week straight! Jenna Kutcher has lots to say about marketing, growing your business, and being your most authentic self in every part of life. She’s not afraid to be herself and consistently talks about her love for Mac n Cheese too, which is fine by me because pasta is my must-have. Go check her out! (And let me know when you’ve been down the JK rabbit hole of goodness for days and days).

10.   Joanna Gaines:

The woman of the year! Joanna Gaines is everywhere these days because her style and outlook on life is inspiring and so contagious! You probably know her from HGTV’s Fixer Upper where you’ll find lots of inspiration for your home and shiplap for days, but she also has a book that she wrote with her husband Chip called The Magnolia Story. This book is SO good it will make you feel motivated, empowered, and ready to put in the hard work it takes to accomplish your dreams. You can also read more from Joanna in their magazine, The Magnolia Journal. One of my favorite parts of the journal is the “A Note From Jo,” heart-felt musings from Jo herself about the little things in life that matter a lot. Reading those pages, and the Manifesto in the back of the journal, make me feel like I’m sitting on a back porch getting advice from my Mom or wise older sister. Her words are just a beautiful as her heart and she truly inspires me!

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Talking With Confidence About What You Do in Work and Life
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Talking with Confidence About What You Do

It’s not easy talking with confidence about what you do, especially for creatives. There are a lot of millennial creatives (myself included) who don’t live a typical 9-5 lifestyle and that can make it both hard to explain what we do on a day-to-day and stressful to justify turning our passions into a profitable way of life.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

Speaking about what you do in a confident, shameless way extends beyond telling others a fact about you or where your interests lie. It’s a window into your purpose and leading with this confidence not only shows people who you are, but it also helps guide yourself too.

Especially as a new blogger, this topic is something I want to start a conversation around with millennials. I’m not going to lie, it’s hard to tell people that you’re starting something new and it takes a lot of guts to talk about that new blog, or side business, or creative venture you’re pursuing. It doesn’t always come easy for me to unabashedly talk about what I’m working on because it’s not a “safety guaranteed” way of life. There are times when I have to take a deep breath and remind myself not to shy away from it. However, I think that’s all the more reason to lead off with conviction in what you do.

For me personally, this is something I’ve struggled with over the years. I remember even back in high school it was easy for me to talk about writing and how that’s what I wanted to do in life, but I hid behind that. Writing wasn’t all I was interested in, but I didn’t have the confidence to say I was also interested in acting, filmmaking, etc.

Looking back on it, there are a few reasons why I wasn’t confident enough in years past:

  1. I was never the loudest personality in the room. I’m outgoing, but always more of an observer. I really thought that there was no way people would ever see me as an actor because I wasn’t the life of the party or the ___ theater kid. However, hindsight is 20/20 and there was no way anyone was ever going to think of me as more than the girl who wants to be a screenwriter because I never had the guts to say otherwise.
  2. No one else my age was running a small business (or so it felt). So, I always felt shy talking about my Etsy shop because I felt freakishly interested in online marketing, product launches, and small business statistics with no one my age to talk about it with. Today I’d be willing to bet that there were more people my age who did have side businesses, but were also shy to talk about it. I’ve also come to realize that it didn’t matter. Who cares if I was the only one who had an Etsy shop at 18? I needed to learn to own it.
  3. The lifestyle of any creative is never really a steady one. I had that drive in me to be successful, but I always felt pressured to go with the job that would tell people I would have the most security. More than that, I felt the negative stigma that came with telling people I was interested in certain creative endeavors that also happened to be so unsteady. There would be no office for me to go into every day and no boss to report to except myself. “Another LA screenwriter, another LA actor,” and maybe some people did think those things. But it was up to me to start talking with confidence about what I want to do and talk about MYSELF with confidence and passion. That was the only way there would be a silver lining in such an unsteady environment. I cared incredibly too much what people thought of me. To this day, it’s something I actively have to surrender. At the end of the day, being confident in who you are and what you want to do says so much about yourself and that’s the only opinion that should matter, your own one.

Post-Grad Questions: Now That You’re An Adult…

I remember after I graduated college it seemed as if I was flooded with questions about what I want to do, what jobs I’ve applied for, the list goes on and on. The truth was that I was the one that put the most pressure on myself to make a good impression and that’s when the fear of talking about what I do and what I’m passionate about would creep in. As creatives, we get a lot of eye-roll from people that think we sit at home and scroll through Facebook all day, and the thing is I totally get it. I understand why people think that, when the access to pajamas, our laptop, and Rice Krispy cereal are within reach. But that’s exactly WHY  talking with confidence about what you do, about your business, and about what you’re passionate about.

There’s a stigma that bloggers can’t make a living off blogging and that new bloggers shouldn’t even enter the market because it’s so over-saturated. I completely disagree with this kind of thinking. There is always room for someone who is passionate about what they want to do and share with the world. It will be unique because you’ll make it unique with your own perspective. If you’re the kind of person that’s still not convinced though…

Here’s 3 reasons why stepping into your passions with purpose and confidence is so important:

  1. Networking. Talking with confidence about what you do is not only important when you’re around people from your industry, but also when you’re around strangers and ordinary people. It seems like it’s always a friend of a friend or that girl from the bar that happens to be the one person that will put you in connection with someone for a promotion or collaboration.
  2. Connection. Not only for networking purposes, but owning what you do and shamelessly telling people about it with that fire in your eyes creates an unforgettable connection. People remember you when you can talk about yourself and what you do with confidence. On a personal level, it’s not only more interesting when you can speak about what you do in this way but it’s a more accurate depiction of who you are as a person. Maybe you work a full-time job, but you’re SO passionate about your Etsy shop you recently started. By not telling people about that part of your story, you’re doing yourself a disservice. That’s part of who you are and you probably spend more time talking about that side hustle and that creative aspect of your life, than your office job.
  3. Put it out there in the universe. I think there’s some truth to this so-called secret to life. You know when you have someone or something on your mind that you’ve been dreaming about and suddenly it comes true or shows up in your life? I think the same goes for talking about what you love to do with that faith and conviction. When you do it enough, it’s bound to make an impact in your life and in others.

Ultimately, this fear just extends into caring what people thought of me WAY too much. The truth is that I still struggle with this today, but over the last year and a half I have come into my own confidence a lot more. Sure, there are conversations when people ask me what I do and it’s scary to lead off with that surefootedness of what I do and what I’m passionate about, but that’s first and foremost who I am. I know I can say without a doubt that I feel so much better after a conversation where I shamelessly described who I am and what I love. I know the same will be true for you when you lead off with that confident foot too. Check out my manifesto for a glimpse into how I want to lead with confidence.

Leave a comment below if this is something you feel you struggle with too, or have in the past! I’d love to hear from you!

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Talking With Confidence About What You Do in Work and Life

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Morning Pages for Creatives: How They Can Help You Gain Clarity in Your Life & Business
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Morning Pages for Creatives: How They Can Help You Gain Clarity in Your Life & Business

The Importance of Morning Pages & How It Changed My Life

Five years ago, I was told about Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, a 12 week step-by-step guide to uncovering your “inner artist” and becoming unblocked creatively.  What I thought I would discover is a cult-followed book that spouts a bunch of non-sense about how to overcome self-doubt or the “secret” that would fall short of my expectations like so many other books. What I never thought I would find is a book that changed my life.

I know—that’s a heavy statement, but I mean that even in the lightest of terms too. At the heart of The Artist’s Way is a ritual called morning pages. At the very least incorporating this ritual changed my morning routine and in the greatest sense, it made me acutely more aware of what I want out of life, in my career, and to sort through things/thoughts/people that might be weighing me down. You might’ve heard of “morning pages” described in a different way. I had heard of stream of consciousness writing or free-writing, where in both instances you write about whatever comes to mind. Morning Pages are similar, but Cameron refers to morning pages as 3 pages written in longhand form (preferably on 8 1/2 x 10 paper) every morning. The idea behind this ritual is that you will start to free yourself creatively, write away the self-doubt that burdens your creative dreams, discover things about yourself you may not have realized, and get to the core of what might be blocking you from creative success.

What’s the Difference Between Journaling and Morning Pages?

Mornings pages aren’t addressed to anyone, as in “Dear diary…” and unlike a journal or diary, they aren’t meant to look back on and read. Think of them more as a write them and let ‘em go type of thing. But, it’s up to you to decide where you want to take your morning pages. Similar to a diary though, they are meant for your eyes only. What I love about morning pages, as Julia Cameron puts it, “There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages.” This takes away so much pressure because you can rest assured that you’re free to write whatever comes to mind. If you want to complain about the dentist yesterday, that’s fine! If a new character pops into your head for your novel, go with it! At first, the task of writing 3 pages every single morning is daunting. I’ll admit that I even dreaded it at first because it felt like I had to think of things to write. If you have to, you can write over and over again “I don’t know what to write” until something pops up. But don’t feel like a fraud if you struggle with this at first because it becomes easier. That I promise you!

The best thing you can do is explore how morning pages best fits you. There’s no wrong way to go about it, so try different things! For example, I usually feel like I need to spend the first page writing down things that are bugging me or stressing me out or weighing negatively on my mind. Then the other pages are usually more positive, filled with things I want to do or I’m working on or excited about. I’ve also heard of some people using their morning pages to map out their day or to do a handwritten meditation, so there’s a lot of possibility for something that’s “stream of consciousness.”

Moving Through Morning Pages

A lot of thoughts will pop into your head as you move through the weeks of The Artist’s Way and morning pages. So even when you think you want to quit or don’t want to get up 30 minutes earlier to write your pages, here are some advantages that come from them:

  • You start to look forward to it. You move from struggling to find things to write, to struggling to keep up with all the thoughts that are popping into your head. Seriously—you should see some of my pages. They start out so nice and then towards the end of the 2nd page it’s completely chicken scratch because I have so many things that are coming to mind that I want to write down before they vanish! Chicken scratch or not, you start to find a peace of mind not just about your creative pursuits, but about your life, relationships, things you stress over, things you have anxiety over… the list never ends. You end up recording your thoughts about things you didn’t even realize you had an opinion on, or a feeling about, or an idea of. That’s pretty powerful, isn’t it?
  • You gain more confidence and hear that voice A LOT less that says, “Are you crazy? You can’t do that.” As Julia Cameron likes to call it, your “inner critic” shuts up a lot more.
  • The greatest thing that happens though, is the clarity you get from doing these morning pages. Essentially what we’re doing is starting our day with a thought dump. You write down everything that comes to mind (good and bad). I found that when I did this brain-dump in the morning, I was able to move through my day with such a freeing feeling. A lot of the thoughts that seemed to cloud my mind or give me anxiety over were all dumped into this notebook that I left behind as I went about my day each morning. And then came the flood of creative ideas.
  • It was as if I had to push aside the worries and self-doubt that clouded my brain to make room for confidence and ideas that were just waiting to pop into my mind. I have no doubt that’s what will also happen for you and THIS is why Julia Cameron created “morning pages.” But it’s not just meant for creative people that need to make room for more ideas or who are feeling creatively blocked.

What If I am Not A Creative?

Morning Pages is one of the most helpful rituals/tools for people that don’t even know they are creative. Everyone is creative on some level, but what “creativity” looks like is completely different for each person. I know, I know—maybe you’re sitting there on the other side of this screen saying: “Sam, I am not creative. I work out of an office in a cubicle from 9-5 and the thought of writing or drawing or taking a picture sounds like the most boring thing in the world to me.” That’s fine! But if you don’t think re-decorating your room or sanding a coffee table down to be re-painted or baking a pie is creative…then I’m real excited for the things you’ll discover after making morning pages part of your ritual.

The discovery that comes through writing down everything that passes through your mind is amazing. You may be that “suit” that works in the office, but when you start to do morning pages you start to uncover dreams you buried 30 years ago and suddenly that idea you had of opening your own restaurant doesn’t seem so crazy anymore. So yeah, I’d say that morning pages are pretty dang life-changing!

Give It A Go

Here are some of my tips for starting morning pages:

  • Have an open mind. Like I said, even if you don’t consider yourself creative or don’t think you have any thoughts or feelings buried within you—just try it!
  • Take it one day at a time. Don’t think about week 12 when you’re on week 1. It will make it easier on yourself when you think of the day’s ritual of writing those 3 morning pages as opposed to stressing about how many you’ll need to write by the end of week 12. Don’t stress because more than likely your mindset will shift by the end of it all.
  • If you find 8 ½ x 10 page papers too daunting, choose a smaller notebook. This is something that I’m not sure would be recommended straight from Julia Cameron herself, but I’ve found that I feel accomplished after writing these pages no matter how big the pages are. I wouldn’t sell yourself short, but don’t stress on page size either.
  • Don’t write your pages on your laptop. This is a big no-no because it’s defeating many of the purposes of morning pages. Writing longhand means you have time to process your thoughts and ideas. You have time to sit with your thoughts whereas on a laptop, you’re more likely to rush through your pages and focus more on grammar errors than being aware of what’s going on in your head and heart. Plus, is it just me or is there something a little romantic and nostalgic about writing in a notebook with a good cup of coffee at hand?
  • Put your phone on silent. Your thoughts will get interrupted right when you’re on the verge of something great and your brain will start thinking ahead about your to-do or the Instagram you need to post. For the 20-30 min. that you need for your pages, that cute puppy video can wait!
  • Just start. Morning pages are really such a simple idea that it’s almost unbelievable to people that they can have this much of an impact. So with that, I leave you to go try morning pages for yourself!

Leave a comment below and let me know how you feel about incorporating this exercise into your routine! I’d love to know if you plan on giving Morning Pages a go and your thoughts throughout the process. Reach out if you’ve read the Artist’s Way and currently write morning pages yourself, too!

Ready to give it a try? As silly as this sounds, sometimes I was more apt to write my mornings pages when the paper or notebook was cute. Feel free to check out my Etsy shop and the cute notebooks I’ve added!

xosamantha

Pin the below image to Pinterest so you can easily refer back to this guide on Morning Pages!

Morning Pages for Creatives: How To Transform Your Life and Business from The Artist's Way Tool of Morning Pages

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