Do what you do do want?

Most of my life I didn’t really make decisions. Well, I suppose I did decide that I couldn’t decide. I didn’t think I had the knowledge to make the choice, or I didn’t trust my own thoughts or feelings. I didn’t want to upset anyone. I didn’t want to be different or strange. So I tried to figure out what everyone else was doing and then I’d do it. Or say it. If I offered an opinion and someone disagreed I’d quickly backtrack or find some way to end up agreeing with them.

I thought everyone else knew better. And perhaps they did – for themselves. Asking someone else what I should do, when they didn’t know me like I know me, when their tastes or interests were different than mine… when I think of it, that is pretty silly.

I can’t remember when I started to ignore my own thoughts or feelings in preference to others. Probably early on, in school. Desperate to fit in, but never fitting in, I spent my days in a sea of anxiety, afraid someone would talk to me and equally afraid no one would talk to me. When they did talk to me I shrank inside, sure I would say the wrong thing, make a bad joke, say something stupid, be totally boring. All I could hear during any social encounter was the voice in my own head yelling, ‘you are boring you are boring you will say something stupid you are boring.’ And naturally, because I only agreed with them, hardly said a word, and was practically inaudible when I did speak… I was boring, I suppose. I wanted to be included, but at the same time I wanted to be invisible because I knew I wasn’t good enough to belong.

Inside I seethed with creativity. I loved to read books, I painted, I drew, I wrote songs and poems, I played the trumpet and the piccolo, I taught myself to play the guitar, I choreographed dances with my little sister that we did around the pool table in the basement, I sang with my school choir, I discussed the value of education with the vice-principal… see how boring I was?

I feel like it’s taken a life time to find my way back to that creative youthful spirit. The first step on that journey was the first time I really asked myself “what do I, Vikki, want?” And the next step on that journey was the first time I really listened for the answer, from within me.

I was speaking to Debra Russell of Artist’s Edge yesterday [ ], and she asked a very interesting question. We were talking about the voice in your head and how it repeats, like a feedback loop, all the negative thoughts and judgments we have about ourselves. Yet, at the same time, we ask ourselves to listen to our inner voice when we are making choices.

So Debra asked me, how do we know the difference between the ‘good’ voice and the ‘bad’ voice? I think that’s a wonderful thing to muse about. Sometimes it takes me awhile to figure it out. Sometimes I have to write in my journal, or go for long walks, or make pro and con lists. Usually I need to find a place of serenity, a quiet place, where I can ask myself what I think. Sometimes I ask the question before I go to sleep and wake up with an answer.

It seems to me that the voice in my head tends to be negative… have a dark energy, it comes from programming or old patterns. It really feels as though it is ‘in my head’. But the other voice, my inner voice, seems ‘lighter’ and ‘brighter’, and it seems to come from my heart.

Making choices is tough. And while I think it’s great to have a vision, and set goals, and work towards them… at the same time I’m aware that we need to… go with the flow. Not every decision needs to be made ‘for life.’ I think that it’s okay if we take the time to explore options, to try new things, to check things out, to experiment with the options.

It’s like when I’m painting. I have a vision in my head of what I want to do… but if I try to force the painting to be what I want it to be… I get blocked, it doesn’t work, I get frustrated. But if I allow the vision in my head to morph, if I ‘follow the brush’… I end up somewhere I didn’t expect. My best work is done when I am just allowing.

Yet I still made the decision it was time to paint. I still did the work of getting out the paints, the brushes, and the canvas. I still sensibly set my easel up in the light. But then, I surrendered to the muse.


SongNote said...

What a beautiful posting. I love this humble and transparent piece on living authentically. And I love the painting! Gorgeous light.

Andrea said...

I would just like to tell you that i have been subscribed to your blog for a few months now and realized that we are a LOT alike. My name is Andrea, 24 years old and am a singer songwriter myself. I am employed 40 hours a week and hate that i have to do all that just to enjoy my LIFE. I would elaborate, but I should just send you a message.

Vikki said...

Songnote: thank you for your lovely note. I read your blog, I think it's great, I've added you to my blogroll - thanks for reading!

Andrea: I hear you - I've been there. I know in my own life I have sacrificed financially in order to have TIME, but that can be a negative thing if you are borrowing against your future (as I now know). You might think of simplifying... if I cut my income in half (worked part-time), could I survive? If so, how does that look? If not, then budget your money carefully, make sure you are saving a decent amount, and work it out so part of what you make goes to support you in singing/songwriting - like, paying for voice lessons or guitar lessons, joining SongU, being a member of NSAI, getting demos done, etc. See "work" as a support of your creative needs as much as you can.

You might also think of joining Just Plain Folks - - sign up for the newsletter and get on the boards - there are many other songwriters struggling with the same issues and it's great to have a forum to discuss all kinds of issues, as well as to share & get feedback on our work.

Just some thoughts :)

Kelley Ann Hornyak said...

Have you read The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron? Your post reminded me of some things I read in that book about those conflicting inner voices... that was a life-changing book for me, so if it hasn't made its way onto your bookshelf yet, I definitely recommend it.

A loved one recommended your blog to me and I am really enjoying it so far. Thanks for the inspiration and for letting me know that I'm not the ONLY shy singer/songwriter in the world! :) That would have been a perfect title for my blog too. lol

Wishing you all the best!

Vikki said...

Hi Kelly - thanks for reading! Yes, I'm very familiar with The Artist's Way - I did the book with a girlfriend about 5 years ago, and I still write every morning. I often pick it up and re-read chapters. I'm glad you enjoy my blog!

Kelley Ann Hornyak said...

That's great! I'm re-reading it now for probably the third or fourth time in the last few years. I just started doing morning pages again, and I don't know why I ever stopped. Thanks again, I'm really enjoying your blog!

SongNote said...

Thanks for your kind comment on my blog Vikki :-) I am following yours as well now. I'm looking forward to listening to some of your songs!

Andrea said...

Hey Vikki,
Just letting you know i joined Justplainfolks. Great site. Thanks so much!

Peter said...

Thank-you, I recognise a lot from what you are saying here. The good voice and the bad voice. I'm a songwriter too, it can be a challenge working in isolation, but inspiring to read blogs such as yours.

girlofmanycolors said...

You are so intresting, wise, and real. I love your blog!

Vikki said...

Peter - thanks for reading & commenting! Nice to meet you. Do you belong to any songwriting forums?

Salena - thanks for reading. I see you're a songwriter too - we have a lot in common :D