Sometimes you just need to stop over-thinking and trust your instincts.
A couple of weeks ago, I was driving with my son. Nearing home, I depressed the brake pedal and pulled the steering wheel toward the right as our car approached a turn.
Nothing happened. The car kept going. Shit, shit, shit.
My son asked what’s wrong, Mommy? Nothing, I replied, trying to keep my voice even.
As I struggled to maintain control, I heard my dad’s voice in my head. What he repeated time and again while teaching me to drive. Both hands on the wheel. Feel the car. If you skid, turn into it. Don’t panic. Don’t think, just react. The reel in my head kept going. The control lights were flashing and the electronic beeping was loud and constant.
When I whined about learning to drive in my mother’s old Jetta with the manual transmission and without power steering and brakes, he told me that if I could control that car, I could drive anything. Now that my power steering and brakes were gone, I had no choice. Don’t think, just drive. Feel the car.
Pulling the wheel to the right with all my might, we limped into the driveway after an agonizing five minutes.
My arms ached from the effort of pulling the wheel, manually turning the 6,000 pound car.
By the next day, after AAA took the car to my mechanic and he diagnosed the problem as a broken carbon fiber serpentine belt that had shredded parts of my engine, I was no longer anything but annoyed, but I had an idea.
The last several months have been tumultuous. I took time off from coaching, time off from writing, and I have been deciding what to do about both my blog and my coaching business. I haven’t felt entirely comfortable with either, but I haven’t been able to figure out what was wrong. I debated giving up on both and trying something entirely new, but that didn’t feel right, either.
So the day after my auto adventure, I sat and wrote. I tried to, anyway.
I tried to finish an essay that’s been mocking me since July. I tried to finish a short story, the denouemont of which has eluded me for nearly a year. I revised the legal article on which I’ve been working since January. I added 5,000 words to my novel in progress. I tried to open a discussion on the website community I’m affiliated with in my coaching.
None of it felt right. I felt like a fraud, a failure.
So I gave up caring, gave up wondering who might read, gave up thinking anyone might see the words. I opened one of my myriad pretty pink notebooks and wrote freestyle.
I did it to get all of the words out, to cleanse my palette. I wrote like I wrote when I was in college and I filled books with rambling thoughts, foul language, run-on and fragmented sentences, improper language usage, thoughts I’d never voice aloud because they really weren’t me, just a moment in time when I was bitter or cruel or when I’d been hurt.
I trusted my instincts, the ones that directed me to write, to reach out through coaching to help people who needed a shoulder to lean on to get through traumatic or confusing times in their lives. I trusted the voice in my head that told me to hold on tight and feel the motion, the voice that told me not to think, just to do what comes naturally.
That essay no longer mocks me. I helped a coaching client deal with a thorny issue. It all felt right, nothing needed to be forced.
So I’m not giving up. Because even if what my voice tells me isn’t perfect, it’s real. That’s what I need. That’s what my writing needs, that’s what my coaching clients need.
Authenticity, not perfection.