“So what excites you?”
It was a seemingly innocent question put to me by my money and manifestation coach, but it floored me. Why? Because I couldn’t answer. Not through embarrassment of sharing my wildest dreams or a penchant for a ridiculous pastime but because I literally had nothing to say. Nada. Nil points.
I realised with sudden clarity that, as part of the healing process, I’d put myself — my wants, desires, needs — into neutral as a means of self protection. To keep the focus on resting and restoring. Only trouble is, having cruised in auto-pilot for so long, I’d completely forgotten to take back the wheel. Somewhere along the line, I’d become so focused on reaching the destination (feeling better), I’d stopped enjoying the journey (actually feeling). Fear became the driving force behind most of my decisions.
They say depressed people don’t feel anything but a numbness. I can kind of relate. For me, it was more like I’d deliberately turned off a switch labelled ‘passion’ inside my head. I’d put all the things I used to enjoy, plus anything involving a bit of excitement, exertion or the general unknown into a box, sealed it up with ‘FRAGILE’ packing tape, and stored it in a far, far away part of my mind, gathering dust. Fun flatlined in my world.
At first, it wasn’t even a deliberate choice but a result of my physical health being impaired. When I had shooting pains in my fingers plus pins and needles in my hands (sadly no bells on my toes), I stopped illustrating and creating artwork. When I didn’t know how I’d be feeling from one day to the next, I couldn’t say yes to events as freely as I used to, so eventually the invites completely dried up. Which caused a confidence crises of sorts and began a self-fulfilling prophecy — only there was nothing fulfilling about it; just a low-level feeling of emptiness.
With your self belief in tatters, you start to live more comfortably in the void. By not putting yourself ‘out there’ you keep yourself shielded from judgement or criticism, which is hard to handle when you’re not well. And, because I already felt like I’d failed (in my career, at life, etc), I had to minimise the risk of failing at anything. EVER. AGAIN. By doing NOTHING.
But I kept myself contained in a catatonic cocoon for so long the flames of passion and general giving-a-fuck were firmly extinguished.
I found myself no longer having an opinion — on anything. A tactic which helped to keep the overwhelm at bay (when at its worst I’d be paralysed with indecision over which bunch of bananas to choose in the supermarket — and not just because I’m a Libra).
It also pandered to the people-pleasing aspect of my personality. When you’re already feeling like such a burden, such a flake, you just want everyone to like you and to be happy in your company. To not be a Negative Nancy. Them: “Where do you want to go for dinner?” Me: “Anywhere, you choose!” Them: “What do you want to eat?” “I don’t mind, I’ll eat anything!”
I’d started to let life happen to me rather than living. I was merely existing. In my mind, if I kept myself small and didn’t get too big for my boots, there’d be less to lose if I fell ill again. Pretty fucked up, isn’t it? It meant there was very little joy in my day-to-day life, and that, my friends, is extremely loooow vibe. Which meant, in turn, I was attracting more dull energy back into my life. Doing — being — nothing had become my new normal. A safety shield for avoiding the muck slung at me by daily life.
But I’ve been doing the work. The Work. All the introspection. The reprogramming of my mindset. And recently — finally! — I’ve experienced a shift. I’m well aware of the fear-driven emptiness and I want to find my fire again. I want to answer “what excites you?” without hesitation, and have a long list of responses. I want to move on from being burnt out to being LIT.
So I’m walking away from fear; previously my default setting. It’s like I’m awakening from a comatose state and fully integrating back into life. But I have to consciously choose to lean into joy. And this isn’t about saying yes to every opportunity which comes my way, oh no. It’s about doing what feels good. I’ve walked away from well-paid work opportunities this year because the energy was all off. And in the long run? It’s opened up better opportunities, more closely aligned with what makes me tick.
I’ve started to realise I am solely responsible for creating my ‘vibe’ — and whatever vibration frequency I’m emitting out to the Universe, I’ll get more of the same in return. So from now on in, my measure for success is how much joy I’m feeling. And while I’ll acknowledge the pain from my past, I no longer let it define who I am today.
I’m finally starting to feel feelings again. But only the fun ones get to stay.