If you’ve ever imagined what life could be like as a successful creative—maybe a writer or artist, or perhaps an entrepreneur—you’ve likely measured your own accomplishments (or perceived lack thereof), against the staggering heights of those who’ve “made it.” It could be Andy Warhol or J.K. Rowling. Maybe Elon Musk. If you’re like me, you look at all of the accomplishments these people have achieved over the course of their lives, and you experience a couple of different things.
On one hand, you’re overcome with a sense of inspiration and resolve. On the other, you’re overwhelmed by an archenemy who’s made its home in your mind.
This archenemy takes several forms, but its interests remain constant. It feeds off comfort and complacency, growing heavier and heavier with time. It loves nothing more than kicking its feet up on the coffee table and convincing you of all the reasons why you shouldn’t leave the couch and walk out the front door. That unknown on the other side of the door? It’s vast. There’s no telling what’s out there in the dark. And that indentation on the couch sure feels cozy—don’t you prefer the safety and the light?
The archenemy is self-doubt, and its purpose is to control you through fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of not having any idea how to begin.
But leave the couch and something peculiar happens. You turn the knob and crack open the door. Light spills out, illuminating more of the dark the wider you open the door. And if you glance behind you, you’ll notice the light within your home hasn’t diminished at all. In fact, you can still see everything from before. Only now, you can see more. You have your house and the stoop.
So you turn on that exterior light. Now, you see the driveway and the yard. You walk out to the edge of the yard. It’s darker there, but you still can see. You see your home and the surrounding spaces behind you, and that comforts you.
So then you look up at the sky. You notice only a couple of stars at first, but you start noticing more and more—countless—stars. And the moon is glowing.
When you realize the world outside your home isn’t as scary as your mind makes it to be, it’s empowering. You’re no longer a slave to self-doubt. But that doesn’t mean the doubt can’t creep its way back in.
You have to continuously seek out the light.
If you find yourself on that couch again, just remember: all you have to do is open the door.