All The Shiny Pennies

Nov 8, 2016

A few days ago I was listening to a podcast in which my coach, Anna, was being interviewed. She talked about how she used to want to collect all the shiny pennies. A couple days later I forced myself to go for a walk (not realizing why I had such a hard time doing something just for the fun of it) and I realized that I tend to be very achievement oriented and not so good about doing things just for fun. I had to force myself on that walk because my inner "shiny penny seeker" thought I should be spending the time being "productive."

I’ve found that I struggle to do things simply for the pleasure of doing them.

I’m all or nothing, black or white. I feel I am either doing something difficult that I get a shiny penny for achieving or I just don't even want to participate. I’m either all in and hoping to succeed, or what’s the point in even trying?

I think that’s why I put off writing for fun so often - because I don’t see where it will get me. Sure, I get an idea for a blog post and I go for it, as has been evidenced here many times, but I’ve also always felt this need to write a novel, to tell a story. But I don’t know what to write about, I don’t know if I’d be any good at it, and I certainly don’t know if anyone would read it. What if I get bored halfway through and give up, as I often do with creative projects?

What if I’m horrible?

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But not acting, not doing, leaves me feeling lost and anxious. I've come to realize that I need to listen to my inner intuition to do things because they make me feel good and to just go with the flow, which is something I've been working on recently. I need to not worry so much about what other people think or their impression of me or what I'm able to accomplish.  Sometimes things just happen, exist, simply for our enjoyment. For example, writing for me is something I need to do as a creative outlet - to get my thoughts out on paper and out of my head. I need to learn to write just to write and not do it for anyone or with any accomplishment in mind.

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Truth be told, this post actually began as a journal entry, and then I created resistance and anxiety around it by thinking about how I could turn it into a blog post - how I could share this idea with others. But then I knew it all sounded a little disjointed and I worried about writing it well so that people would understand me and appreciate me for what I shared.

And that is where the anxiety is created within me. I have taken something that should be enjoyable and started pulling the curtains open to let those negative voices creep in - voices that I’m not good enough, that I have to succeed, that I have to prove something to people or impress them. I think therein is where my anxiety lies: this deep need to impress people and receive praise; receive the shiny pennies.

But how do we get rid of this need to receive shiny pennies? I think the easy answer, and my gut instinct, would be to find my worth in God and not in the praise of other people. But that's not so easy, is it? Much simpler said than done. I think, for me, it will take a great deal of conscious effort and prayer, every day. Just like we don't expect to lose weight or gain a talent or create self-love in a day or two, I cannot expect to free myself of the anxiety of performing well in just a blog post. But, as we all know, awareness is the very first step.

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I could lament that it took me 29 years to realize this need for change, a change from my deep-set need to gain the approval of others, but in reality, it is a blessing that I've learned now and not let myself go a much greater portion of my life in the dark. Every day is a new chance and opportunity to make our lives a little bit better than before, and I hope to make the most of them.

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