I want an Oompa Loompa. Yup. I want one, now. And along with it, I want a bunch of other things too: a published memoir, an episodic documentary, and a puppy. I want it all. I’m just like Violet Beauregarde, only I’m not chillin’ with Willy Wonka. I’m in my apartment in Brooklyn stomping my foot and demanding my Oompa Loompa, but there is no one here to bear witness to my impatience. I haven’t turned into a blueberry just yet, but it’s only a matter of time.
One could call this a case of impatience, but I’d attest to it being even worse than that. If impatience and perfectionism made a baby, I’d likely have it swaddled to my back without even knowing it. Baby Perfectience. And here’s the thing with this baby – it’s not one of those babies who sleeps through the night (are there babies like that? I don’t have one). It’s a baby that wakes me up at 1am, then again at 3am, and so on, all night long. He wakes me up to tell me, “you can’t share your writing unless it’s perfect,” and he wakes me up again to tell me, “but it needs to happen now,” and then finally, “make sure you know the exact ending to your story, before you begin.” And guess what I end up doing? Nada.
The thing is, lately, I’ve been so caught up in what I want to become, I’ve missed out on the becoming. I’m so concerned with what I want to create, that I’ve forgotten about the joy of creating. It’s cliché to say life is about the journey and creativity is about the creation, but I can’t get this cliché out of my head. I’ve been wasting so much time identifying the outcome that I’ve forgotten to look down and see where I’m standing. It’s like those days where you’re rushing through the streets of New York and you’re texting and talking and emailing and online dating all at the same time. And then suddenly, you arrive where you’re going and you look up and you’re shocked because you have no idea how you got there. Well, metaphorically (and literally) speaking, sometimes I feel like I’m walking through life with my face in my phone. I’m so determined to get to my destination that I don’t look around to enjoy the scenery.
I find that New York sometimes feels like a Paula Abdul music video. The song is “Rush Rush,” and everyone is moving really fast - rushing towards being successful, rushing to find the perfect partner, rushing to the gym, to dinners, and social events, and it’s 1991 and everyone is wearing scrunchies and watching 90210. It’s all happening fast, and I’m impatiently rushing to the next location. At times it feels like a race, but in all honestly, the only person I’m racing against is myself, and there is no finish line. I make up that I’m racing towards perfectionism because it sounds better than just claiming that I’m not sitting down to do the hard work. And here’s the thing with hard work - it takes courage. Sitting down to do the work is like secretly claiming who you are. Stepping outside the safe and mundane takes balls. It’s letting the truth of what you want, what you dream, matter.
It’s easy to convince myself that, “I’m not ready,” even while I’m impatiently waiting for movement. It’s like violently trying to get across the street while standing in tar. I was a working life coach for five years before I made a website. It’s not that I didn’t want one, it’s just that I had convinced myself I wasn’t ready. What this was really about was the fear of being seen, in knowing the things that I wanted, and in making my story matter enough to put in the work. In laymen’s terms, it was about believing in myself and my worthiness. How do I summon the courage to tell myself that I am worthy of all that I want? It’s a radically scary place to be, because once I claim it, I must live it.
Five years after working as a coach I put the website out. It was a DIY – nothing fancy, certainly far from “perfect,” but it felt like unpacking a backpack filled with “shit that’s been holding me back,” and it turned out, I’d been carrying that bag behind me for years. There was so much wanting and longing for myself that I had tucked away, so much comparison and fear, and the only way to release it was to drop the bag and keep moving forward. I had to let go of the impatience, stop looking at my phone as I walked, and get connected to where I was, right in the now. Once I unloaded, I remembered how much joy there was in the creation.
We make up a lot of excuses to keep ourselves small, to cringe from joy, to dissociate from the process of living. It might be perfectionism, or it might show up in other ways like impatience, fear, trepidation, or stories we make up about who we are, based on shoulda coulda woulda’s. The best advice I’ve ever gotten (and the hardest to hear) was that sometimes we just need to sit down and do the fucking work. Stomping our feet is the easy part – I can stomp my foot all day, but that doesn’t mean an Oompa Loompa is going to show up at my door. This blog was my Oompa Loompa. It took me a month to finish and I had to force myself to sit down to write it. We all have one. We all have that thing we’re longing for that we keep putting off, the thing that incites our creativity, the thing that makes us excited to get out of bed, the story we need to share, the painting we want to create, the person we’ve been meaning to call. The question is, what stands between you and your Oompa Loompa? What needs to happen in order for you to put down that phone, sit in that chair, and claim who you are?
Let the truth of what you want, matter most.
What are you waiting for?