The idea for Empathings blog is the product of a revelation I had recently. Since I graduated college in 2016, I have auditioned, questioned, and cried a lot. Everyone assures me it’s just a case of being a twenty-something and that I’ll figure it out eventually. Two years later that answer still isn’t doing it for me. Let me share how my life led up to this revelation...
My entire life I’ve never been able to answer the age old question: what do you want to be when you grow up? I am 24 and still have basically no idea what I want my life to look like at 40, 50, or even 25. Yet at the same time I can be inspired by something on TV or Facebook and see an entire goal breakdown, plan of action, and lifestyle around that thing in a single minute. Those fleeting inspirations can occur as often as every day. Any idea how exhausting it is to want to live 10 different lives simultaneously but barely be able to maneuver through one because your brain is so scattered by inspired possibilities? If you're reading this, you probably do! At first glance, some people interpret that as being lazy and unfocused when really my brain is screaming, “I’m a super hard-worker - I just want to do EVERYTHING!”
For those who know me a bit better than that, I’ve received comments like “You’re so talented,” “You’re a Renaissance woman,” or “Ugh, is there anything you can’t do?” Talk about pressure! When people go out of their way to share their expectations of your “perfection” and comment on how you’ll always continue to re-impress everyone, the fear of failure skyrockets to another universe. In high school and college, my instructors and peers would roll their eyes at my concerns and say things like, “But you’re Abigail, of course you’ll be successful.” Then they’d wonder why I had severe meltdowns whenever things weren’t as “successful” as I had aimed.
Earlier this year I had a #breakdown...and not the "cry and eat some ice cream" kind of breakdown. I had an anxiety attack that sucked me to my bedroom floor, felt like a one-ton stone was pressing on my chest, and left me gasping for breath. Whew, just typing that makes me anxious and nervous to share publicly. But I now realize it had come from years of trying to fulfill impossible expectations and unhealthily drilling myself into the ground like some kind of robot. That’s not okay and it has taken me so long to begin to realize that. The more I share out loud, the more people I find that share similar or even worse experiences. This is the last thing we should all be hiding. We always think others are more “figured out” than we are. Especially in my recent shift in career (which is always and forever pending), I struggle with this. We all need to keep in mind that we don’t have to apply anybody’s expectations to our lives but our own. Do like the kitten. Smack them away!
Then I saw a TEDTalk that changed my life. It was called "Why Some of Us Don't Have One True Calling" discussing what it means to be a #multipotentialite. If you haven’t seen it, watch it right now or right after reading this. It’s about 12 minutes long. For the first time I felt like there wasn’t something wrong with me. Everyone is telling me that I’m this crazy multi-talented supergirl but from my point of view, I was under the poverty line for taxes this year and my music reaches such a limited audience that one or two new followers on Instagram or Facebook feel like a miracle. I still don’t know what kind of career I want to have and none of them make any money anyway. I can’t say I feel like much of a crazy multi-talented supergirl.
That #TEDTalk made me realize that there is a substantial portion of our population that thinks and feel this way too. Yet here we all are in opposite corners prepped with sword-and-shield for battle to protect our vulnerability. Ka-pow! Let’s be a better kind of superhero and break down that invisible silent barrier and share our experiences. Heroes are people who are brave, right? Well you can’t be brave without fear and by golly do we fear vulnerability!
Emilie describes how we need both multi-potentialites and specialists in society. Her #Puttylike community inspired me to write down all my passions and interests on one page. Rather than looking at it like a sporadic laundry list, she says to organize it into categories and look for a common underlying theme. That’s where it clicked. My categories were music, theatre, writing, travel, and a few miscellaneous ones. The common denominator was that all of them provide some sort of community and experiences outside our own. My deepest core value as a songwriter has always been to remind people that they are never alone in their feelings and experiences. That seemed to echo in everything on the list. Traveling to new places, deciphering other languages, writing or performing live to bring together a room full of strangers...these are my deepest loves.
You are not alone in your feelings and fears. We each have such a beautiful perspective to share and I am creating Empathings blog as a platform to form a community for that to happen.
Let's get this started!
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