Happy Full Moon!
Today’s Moon is in Virgo, opposite the Sun in Pisces, so it’s the perfect time to talk about the interplay between the more meticulous, industrious approach of Virgo with the dreamier, come-what-may flow of Pisces.
In my late 20s I learned web design (shout out to SitePoint, whose books taught me everything I knew!) in order to build sites for clients, which was both a satisfying intellectual challenge and a headache-inducing nightmare.
Every coding language I learned opened the door to another that felt like an absolute must-know, and no matter how many techniques I amassed, there was always a bug or a browser update or a features-request that required I learn still more.
I started getting migraines, and day after day, week after week, felt like a mounting race against time, a race in which I never knew enough, but maybe if I just worked a little later tonight (and the next night and the next…), then I could get ahead.
It wasn’t until many years later, looking back at this period of my life, that I realized it wasn’t the endless stream of things to learn that was the problem. It was that I didn’t really want to be learning that stuff in the first place.
I’d started doing web design because, initially, it was fun as a hobby, one that allowed me to create online vehicles for my writing and art projects. But instead of heeding my inner voice, alerting me to the fact that I didn’t need to turn this interest into a career, I fell into a predictable pattern of mine: If I can do something, then I should do it; I have to be the absolute best even if it kills me; and I have to monetize it.
Doing something for the sheer enjoyment of it? What is this nonsense you speak of!
Yeah, Former Me was having none of that joy business, and capitalism was all too happy to reinforce the belief that non-monetized time was a complete and utter waste, one that would allow someone else to leave me in the dust, because we’re all competing for limited resources necessary for survival. (But, like, no presh or anything.)
Over the years, I kept returning to my writing, first in my journals (sooo, I journal a lot–see Exhibit A below), then on various iterations of my blog, eventually landing my first book deal.
Writing is every bit the endless wormhole of things to learn…and that’s what I love about it most. The fact that I will never exhaust the Mystery That is Writing feels so very very good to my soul. It’ll never run out! Ever! I can spend my entire life writing, and there will still be more to learn.
With web design, this felt like my very own sulphuric hellscape, whereas with writing, it has me walking on cloud nine.
Same with Jungian psychology. Every book I read leads to dozens more. Every meditation with my guides, exploring the nuances of Jung’s findings and theories, turns me on to countless rabbit holes, each leading to their own cosmic warren of tunnels, waiting to be explored. Every class makes me excited to take another. It’s so fantastic, I can hardly contain myself.
And this brings me to an important distinction, one you might choose to explore in your own life.
Overwhelm is information. So is the feeling that things are super duper hard all the damn time. Former Me treated these as obstacles that must be overcome instead of messengers trying to tell me something.
Let’s say I’m working on a chapter of a book, and I start to feel overwhelmed. When I check in, I realize that I’ve hit a point in the text where I haven’t yet clarified what I’m trying to say, so figuring out how to write about this vague-ass thing is hard–unnecessarily so. By listening to this feedback, I can go back to my outline, refresh my memory, and return to the writing with more ease.
Or maybe the overwhelm is cuing me into the fact that I need a break, and after I go for a walk and have some lunch I can get back to work and everything just flows.
Listening to my inner feedback and learning to honor my needs helps me parse out tasks that feel hard right now because I need to tweak my approach, versus tasks that feel hard the majority of the time because I don’t want to be doing them.
You might be thinking, “Yeah, but isn’t it easy to tell when you don’t want to do something?”
If that’s the case for you, you’re an inspiration, I love it, go forth and prosper. But for me, having been taught throughout childhood to frequently ignore what I want and need in favor of pursuing goals that might earn me “love” and approval, it’s been a process of relearning.
If I’m not taking care of my frightened inner parts, they can kick up all manner of confusion. For instance, I truly thought I wanted to be a doctor until my first semester, senior year of college.
I had my entire life-plan meticulously mapped. I even knew what car I would get after my residency–a Mazda Miata. I’d cut out pictures, plastering a collage on the inside cover of my Trapper Keeper. I also remember following the prompt in a magazine ad, sending away for berber carpet samples (in high school!), because this is what I envisioned lining the floors of my future doctor’s office.
The only snag?
Turns out I didn’t at all want to be a doctor. Whoops. My grandma idolizes doctors and my inner parts registered this as being a sure-fire way to earn her approval, and thus all of my desires were unknowingly funneled through this grandma-sanctioned plan.
I can’t help but wonder, if I had paid attention to any of the bazillion points of friction I encountered along this rocky road, would I have turned around earlier? Maybe. But now, at least, when I find myself encountering one pit of quicksand after another, rather than blaming myself for not being sufficiently quicksand-proof, I get curious.
Is this a path I actually want to travel?
This isn’t to say that life is never hard, and as soon as the going gets tough we should throw in the towel. But learning the difference between needlessly, “banging your head against the wall” tough versus growth-accelerating “ooh, now this is a worthy challenge” tough is an incredibly valuable skill.
There’s no point in endlessly scrabbling to barely raise our heads above the quicksand pit, just for the sake of “perseverance.” Especially when, once we allow ourselves to follow our innate curiosities and naturally irrepressible passions, we suddenly see, right next to the pit, “Oh hey, there’s a bridge. That’s pretty handy.”
What needlessly hard thing can you give yourself permission to quit today?
Happy Full Moon.