I have a confession to make. I hear voices.
Well, I say voices but there's really only one. And as for hearing, most of the time it chats away without my conscious acknowledgement. On and on it goes, unchecked and unquestioned. Therein lies the problem.
I'm talking about the voice of resistance. The sound of my own mind telling me why I can't, do, be or create this, that or the other. It's the thing that gets in between me and the fullest possible version of myself. Like its cousin, self-doubt, it's born of fear and is resisting not the shadows within, but the light.
I figured I'd silenced it. Last year I quit a stable, well-paid job that was making me unhappy, set up as a freelancer and returned to the country of my birth to make a film.
I'd wanted to do these things for a long time but I resisted. When I stopped resisting it all happened, so I thought my work was done. But that's the thing about the voice of resistance, it comes at you all the time.
It's perhaps inadvisable to admit this on my business blog – I should probably project an air of unflinching confidence – but every time I start a new project, that negative little voice is right there beside me, resisting positivity and telling me that I can't do what experience has proved, over and over again, I can.
What is that about? I do good work. I get great feedback. And yet there's always this lingering uncertainty, this sense that I'm a fraud.
Stranger still is the fact that it's not really failure I fear, but success. Failure's fine. It's what the voice expects. Success on the other hand flies right in the face of everything it's trying to tell me about myself.
Surely I am not alone here. Aren't we all a bit afraid of ourselves? Fearful of claiming the fullest, most honest space that we can?
I work part-time in a café. Until recently I told myself that this was because I enjoyed the social side. I like my colleagues and customers and writing can be lonely. It's nice to get out and be around people. It's also a way of hedging my bets, maintaining an alternative source of income in case I need something to fall back on.
There's an element of truth in all of that but something truer runs beneath. I'm resisting. It's not about having something to fall back on. It's about stopping myself from falling forward, without resistance, into the life I have chosen. I'm getting in my own way.
Goethe once said, "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back."
I thought I was committed. Quitting your job to follow your heart sounds pretty committed right? Or maybe it just sounds clichéd. Either way, as long as I cultivate groundless fears then I'm not committed at all. I'm demonstrating hesitancy and resistance.
I don't know if it's possible to switch off the voice completely. Perhaps it's just as integral as lungs and skin and maybe, on some level, the want to defy it drives me on. But it doesn't really know what it's talking about and it certainly can't be trusted. Essentially, it's futile.
I'm turning the volume down.