When I left church and much of Christianity, I felt an initial surge of, “YES! I CAN DO THIS! I’M FIGHTING THE SYSTEM! I’M DARING TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT! I’M FOLLOWING MY HEART! LET’S GOOOOOOO!!!”
It was a feeling of knowing I was finally taking a step in the right direction for myself and my family. After years of sorting out my disenchantment and my spirit longing for more, I made the leap. It’s like standing at the end of the diving board, looking down, knowing you’ll *probably* be okay once you just jump, but you have those seconds (sometimes minutes, if we’re being honest) before the jump where you fight the urge to go running and screaming back to solid ground.
And then, you JUMP. And you’re falling. And you hit the water, you’re engulfed by the cool weightlessness of the “deep end”, and you come up, gasping for air, and feeling like you just did the most amazing thing any human has ever done. That moment…the first time making that jump, you will never forget it. Never. Even if you decide never to do it again, you’re proud of yourself for just DOING it.
And leaving church was a lot like that. A few years after the leap I’d settled into the rhythm of this life, but still felt the need to tell people *why* I did it. I needed them to understand, but actually I didn’t need them to understand. I just thought I did. So, I blogged about it. I talked about it. I tweeted and Facebooked it every chance I got. My move away from religion led to a new sort of religion, and it would take me another few years to let go of that too.
Now is the hardest part. The part of just living it. The need to talk about it is gone (save for in this blog post for the sake of what I’m leading up to), and it’s less about proclaiming my choices and more about simply living them, in a mostly quiet manner.
I am an artist. I am a seamstress. And sometimes I write and illustrate children’s books too. And the hardest part about my current state isn’t needing anyone else to recognize who I am or what I’m doing, but just *doing* it, until “it” becomes something I can do and support myself while doing.
The ultimate goal for most creatives is to have this little “hobby” become a passionate career. Even if in your own mind that’s what it is and what it’s going to be, you can’t really expect the whole world to see it the same way when you’re spending your last dollar buying fabric, not knowing if you’re going to recoup that dollar or not. If success is all about sinking or swimming, I’m at the sinking end of the spectrum, and I’m comfortable enough with this choice to admit that.
This is where it’s hardest.
I’ve jumped. I’ve proclaimed it. I’ve reasoned it and explained it to my peers. And now, I simply live it. And hope it works out. And believe it’ll work out. Even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.
Some people will find relatively overnight success. Alabama Shakes is a Grammy nominated band from the town I live in and only a few short months after they recorded their first album, they were on Lettermen. Seemingly overnight success. There was a lot of leg work before that EP, but all it took was one. And it was late night tv spots and Grammy noms from that point on.
But, I’m not going to be an overnight success. And you probably won’t either. We’re going to be at this for a while. We’re going to be honing our craft, making those connections, and dealing with disappointment for a while before it all “clicks”. And we have to keep doing it, even when it stops feeling good.
Even when you stop feeling it.
Keep going, even when you stop feeling it. That’s the only thing that separates you from every other person with a hobby. Or quit. Maybe this is just a hobby for you and maybe it should be. But that’s something you need to sort out for yourself. And you won’t get there just by standing at the edge of the diving board, waiting.