The Sunday before Christmas, I awoke in the guest room of a friend’s home after a glorious friendsmas meal and at least ten very intense rounds of Dobble. I’ve just discovered this game and I love it.
I rolled over and clicked open my phone with some time and space to read a few of my favourite Sunday Substack reads. And as always happens, I found words of my own swirling in my mind. The start of a letter forming in my head.
But then came the other thing that comes alongside inspiration: envy. Followed by envy-induced procrastination and doubt. This then typically sees me shake off my own words, get on with my Sunday, and before you know it another weekend passes. Another letter not sent.
I’m not ashamed to admit envy. One of my favourite journal prompts about it comes from Gretchin Rubin. She poses that it can be very useful to consider: to whom do you envy? because it can reveal a lot about what we want in our own lives -and that can be incredibly galvanising. Since hearing that question some years ago, I’ve always found it a refreshing and useful reframe harnessing the dark feelings that we shy away from or don’t care to admit, and using them to motivate and get us closer to what we want instead.
There are some writers and some newsletters that I read that inspire a solid amount of envy in me. That’s not a them problem, it’s a me problem. I’m grateful to have such beautifully inspired and thoughtful words in my life, and to know some of the writers of those words, as friends. Noting a few, are Leanne who writes, Alicia who writes , - who’s Substack emails I constantly read and mark as unread again - as well as, and .
That envy tells me that I want to write too, regularly and consistently. That I want to share ideas from my mind, and stories from my road. Putting that envy to good use encourages me into the action of writing, sharing imperfectly and being more of the person I say I want to be in this world.
That day, I wrote this:
Start it scared. Do it scared.
Do it, start it and continue it - even if you don’t think that you, your idea or your version is good enough.
Do it even if you think others are doing it better. The antidote to that feeling is not to shrink yourself into non-existence. Whether you feel this is a move of artistic altruism (or more likely a feeling of fear or envy), shrinking ourselves doesn’t make more space for others. Their space already exists, as does yours. We don't occupy the same spot.
Even if you talk about, write, create, sing or make the same thing. The space for our ideas will always make room for us too.
But we need to start (or keep going).
While you may loathe the following examples, bear with me for the lesson:
Imagine if Mariah Carey didn’t sing All I Want for Christmas Is You because The Pogues had already made a Christmas song in Fairytale of New York? And what if they didn’t make theirs because Wham! had already made Last Christmas? And what if they didn’t make their Christmas song because Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas had already come into being?
If you can’t stand my Christmas song analogy because some of those are only just seeping out of your mind, does Starbucks not open across the road because there’s already a Costa or (and in some cases and) a Caffe Nero already in situ?
This is a plea to my own heart as well as yours. As often as you can - run, walk, crawl, limp or tip-toe towards your ideas rather than away from them. However you can get there. Believe in yourself and your ideas.
Even if, especially if…
I first heard the phrasing, “even if and especially if” on this episode of Mel Wiggin’s podcast Courage Is Calling. “Even if and especially if” says: I will act. I will try even though I know obstacles x, y and z exist.
You will have to confront them. You know yourself. You know they will make themselves known. You expect them. And even then, you will show up because you know that on the other side of what can be many, many even ifs, are the reasons you want to, and sometimes need to do the things you want to do or have more of in your life.
So, I will honour my creativity and my ideas:
even if my brain tells me no one wants to hear them
even if I feel it’s not my best idea or set of words (note to self: you have to get them out to be able to know which is “the best” one anyway)
even if it means being a bad beginner (read: it will)
even if it means cajoling myself through seasons of doubt and despondency (note: it definitely will); and
even if I know I’ll want to convince myself out of my ideas and shrink away from the very thing I am actively speaking to right now
I will create:
especially if it feels like sharing my words helps or spurs someone else on to create or have more of the things that they want in their lives
especially if it means I can experience the feeling of showing up for myself
especially if it means expressing myself in ways that feel important to me
especially if it shows that I can give my brain evidence to the contrary of its default narratives. Those that have never and won’t ever get me to be more of the person I want to be
especially if I can say “I tried” instead of “I regret” or “I wonder how that might have turned out?”
especially if it helps me to create community
especially if I can share the words of others who help me along my own road
especially if it makes one person think, “so it’s not just me,” and
especially if it makes me come alive in a way that no other thing can
And so, in spite of the even ifs, and because of the especially ifs, we must press on with the important things in our lives, because we believe in ourselves and we believe in what those things mean to us.
Bella Bella! On the envy subject, one of my favourite ever quotes that I think about daily is: green is the colour of envy, but it is also the colour of hope. I find it a really useful reframe when I’m just letting myself sit in a seething rage! Even if and especially if is a brilliant one too...
Thank you for sharing this. I relate to everything you say; you have inspired me to keep going. Since my first post on Substack, I have found it difficult to get the confidence to write the next post, but I now feel less alone in this journey. You've reminded me of why I started and why I will make sure I keep going 🤍