For the past year I have been trying to figure out where it all went wrong. How did I go from being on the verge of having everything I wanted to feeling farther from my dreams than ever? When did I become a magnet for fear and doubt instead of a human rocket that uses them as fuel? Where exactly did I lose myself and how do I get her back?
If I retrace my steps, perfectly, honestly, I can actually pinpoint the moment when everything took a turn for the worse, when the wheels fell off, when I gave up on myself and my dreams, giving the universe permission to do the same.
I’ve written and reflected so much on the miracle of May 2015 when, seemingly overnight, my book sales skyrocketed. I’ve looked back on that time with awe and gratitude, with confusion and disbelief. I have looked back on that moment as luck finally meeting with all of my hard work. As the beginning of something great. But in the midst of that moment of greatness I did not choose to do something great, bold, or brave. Because I did not choose to leap.
Instead, I took the money that I’d made from writing fiction and I used it to apply to grad school. I used it to build a cocoon, to mitigate risk, to stomp out my fears of change and lack and failure. I used it to give up.
I didn’t realize at the time that I was giving up. But what else do you call turning your back on a gift that big and beautiful?
In my quest to understand where it all went wrong (and therefore, how to fix it) I’ve been reading a lot about mindset, the power of positive thinking, and the rules of universal intelligence. Basically, universal intelligence is…well, you. And me. And everything. Everything is connected. Our reality is a shifting, changing thing that bends to our desires, good or bad, brave or fearful.
On some level, I have always believed this–that I am always in control of much more than I appear to be. But I also have an anxious overactive brain that can funnel just as much negative energy into something as positive energy. In fact, it’s much easier for me to funnel negative energy into something because most of my day is spent swatting away negative thoughts. I’m an expert at creating them. I can do it in my sleep, and often do, which is why I have nightmares almost every night.
But this hyperactive, extremely powerful brain of mine, when it focuses on positive things, can make miracles happen. On some level, I have always believed this too. The problem is, the line between positive thoughts and negative thoughts is coated in vaseline. I vacillate between them like an olympic ping-pong player.
Everything is awesome. I’m so happy. Look at all the abundance that surrounds me. So much excess. Things I don’t need. Things I’ve greedily hoarded when there are people in the world who are homeless and starving!
See what I mean? It’s a problem.
But a problem that I had (somehow) temporarily solved in the summer of 2015, at least long enough for something completely miraculous to happen. I keep thinking about that time in my life, trying to figure out all the ways it was different; all the ways I was different.
Here’s what I know for sure: I was frustrated with my current job. I knew I didn’t want to work there forever. I knew I hated my boss. But I also knew, with extreme certainty and clarity, that it was temporary. I felt a pull to do something bigger, greater, better. Something that would give my life purpose and make the world a better place. I believed that I was meant for that kind of responsibility and that I had unique skills and abilities that qualified me for such a role. I wanted to make more money so that I could buy a new car with a working A/C unit that didn’t stall every time I ran the heater while idling at a stop light. So that I could shelter myself from the kind of financial struggles my parents went through. So I could do good things for others.
Three years later and every single one of those basic desires is the same. What isn’t the same, is me.
In 2015, when I was daydreaming about my future, I was writing like my life depended on it, planning like my life depended on it, dreaming like my life depended on it. The things I wanted and the work I was willing to do to get them was nonnegotiable. My day job was temporary and this was also nonnegotiable. All of these nonnegotiable things were promises I was making to myself and to the universe. These promises became prayers. Declarations and then manifestations.
I told the Universe that I wanted to make a living as a writer. I showed it that I was serious by writing every spare second I had–early in the morning and late into the night. I paid for cover designs and copy editing and threw money at this dream even though it wasn’t earning me a cent.
And then the Universe answered my prayers. It gave me exactly what I wanted. Money. An audience. Control. Freedom.
But it wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough to quiet those dark and doubting voices in my head. It wasn’t enough to make me believe that I deserved these gifts I was being given. It wasn’t enough to make me leap into that great unknown that really isn’t unknown once you realize you’re the one constructing it. Brick by brick. Every thought with the power to summon something you desire or something you fear.
I chose fear. In the face of my dreams, of my destiny, I chose fear.
Instead of trusting that the universe would continue to provide, I stopped swatting those negative thoughts away and let myself dwell on them. What will I do when the money runs out? What if I can’t write another book? What if I lose it all? What if I sabotage everything?
And I did. It took three years but every fear that I let stop me from taking that leap, every fear that has been following me around, tying me in knots, stealing my sleep and good sense, has come to fruition. And I have no one to blame but myself.
But this is also good news. Because if I’m the only one to blame for creating this problem then I’m the only one who can possibly come up with the solution. Believing this is also the first step in repairing my relationship with the Universe because it operates on the assumption that if I can change what I believe, I can change, well, everything.
So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to get back in the driver’s seat of this human experience that could very well be the only one I ever get. I’m going to make it count by planning and dreaming and creating and trusting like my life depends on it. I’m going to claw my way out of that black hole and stand on the top of the mountain. I’m going to give myself all the gifts and I’m going to believe with everything in me that I deserve them.