Why doing what we love is not always fun

It was 8am. I was excited.

Yesterday I had spent hours and hours – way too many hours – figuring out how to use the software my website was made with. The buttons, the secret menus squirreled away within other menus. The brain-spinning array of options, the language that made no sense. I cursed and grumbled. I felt sorry for myself, and I felt angry – ‘why is this so hard! Stupid software! Why are you making my life uniquely difficult and annoying??’. One hour leaked into 2, which turned into 6. I spent all day figuring this out through painful trial and error, being in the beginner state, the uncomfortable space of technical learning which is either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, and as an adult learner who much prefers success to failure, this felt like pain. But gradually as I figured things out, as I found new commands, and liked the effects I was seeing, as the logic of the darned thing began to make sense, I began to feel a sense of achievement: proud, curious, and excited about the next steps. By that stage I found it hard to stop, and at dinner time dragged my poor husband into the details as I cracked one last problem and showed off, just a little bit.

So this morning I got up early armed with yesterday’s hard won knowledge and my now optimistic list of future changes for the site. I was brimming with excitement and grand ideas, was super keen to play with images and layout some more. I had a taste for this website thing and I was hooked. I switched on the computer and sat down.

And the strangest thing happened. While the fear of the alien technology was lessened and had been replaced with the excitement of competence, as I opened the first window to start typing content I experienced a wrenching feeling in my stomach. Too hard! Too scary! This time not about how to manouvre the software but about what I would write in those well laid out and nicely illustrated boxes. Yes actually describing myself, defining myself for all to see.

This is one of the unexpected paradoxes of pursuing something you are excited about – it is not always fun! My coaching training has helped me to see this more clearly, as I began to better understand the push and pull and push-back of change. I now recognize this feeling with more attuned eyes, and see it for what it is – fear, resistance. It is an ancient mechanism trying to keep me safe: from humiliation, from rejection from the tribe, from being eaten by things with big teeth. So now I see it, and do what I can to lessen it’s grip on me. Not by fighting it, not by being angry with it, but by tricking it into calming down. For me that means bringing it into conscious attention and analyzing it, or sometimes, writing a blog post about it! By then I feel more calm and relaxed and ready to wade into the deep scary waters of doing something I love.

So now I will return to the page and write the words that scare me.



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