When we were younger, we really felt it, didn’t we?

And by “it”, of course, I mean life.

Once upon a time, we had big feelings about everything from our birthdays to our breakfast cereals. We felt intensely; we threw our whole hearts into songs, books, and best friendships.

I’m not saying that living this way was easy. There were tears and temper tantrums; there were moments when our bodies could barely hold the force of our emotions.

It was hard, but it was real, no-holds-barred living.

Show A Little Inspiration

I remember how it felt to be eight years old and know that my aunt, uncle, and closest cousins were on their way to my family’s house.

Before they arrived Mom would turn on music, and I’d thrill to the opening guitar notes of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “The Hard Way”.

It was the first song on the album Come On Come On, and I loved it. For me it was pure anticipation, pure exhilaration.

It meant that the fun was about to start, that soon my cousins and I would greet each other in a glad pandemonium of hugs, then race upstairs to talk for hours.

“Show a little inspiration / show a little spark
Show the things that drew me to you / that stole my heart.”

Those lyrics freed me up. They made me – a deeply introverted, self-conscious kid – feel like I could dance around the living room, sing out loud, and take up space.

The song gave me such a feeling of joy in my body; it made me want to cry without knowing why. It rang so true that I forgot to be afraid.

We’ve Got Two Lives …

Fast-forward to today. Do we still have those moments, the ones that set us free from the confines of who we thought we were? Do we remember how to let go of our fear and choose the braver life?

For many of us, the honest answer is No.

Self-imposed limits keep us stuck. We say that we want to go for our dreams and make our contribution … but instead we hesitate, prevaricate, and stagnate.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Mary Chapin Carpenter taught me that much when I was still a little girl. This line from “The Hard Way” always gave me chills:

“We’ve got two lives; one we’re given and the other one we make.”

One life is filled with challenging circumstances outside of our control. But the other is the life that we make for ourselves: the thoughts, emotions, and actions that we choose.

Defeat Self-Doubt with The Life You Make

That truth kept me going over the past three years, as I wrote and edited my forthcoming full-length book about recovering from perfectionism.

I spent untold hours working and re-working the manuscript. Then I hired an editor and re-worked it again. After that, I wrote a book proposal. And then I pitched it to dozens of literary agents, most of whom said no.

Sure, I had moments – even days – of self-doubt. But I kept going, because this was the life I made, one spent in service of stories and the people who long to hear them.

At long last, a literary agent said yes to me and my book. Her name is Angela Scheff of The Christopher Ferebee Literary Agency, and together we’re going to pitch my book to major publishers.

It feels miraculous, and I’m grateful.

But what about you? What about your dreams, and the life you’ve always yearned to make? What about that book you want to write, that post you want to see published?

Introducing: The Confidence Course

There are so many writers out there with beautiful stories to tell … but they’re hiding out and playing small because they lack confidence.

That’s why I created a free online video series called The Confidence Course: How to Defeat Self-Doubt, Trade Perfectionism for Possibility, and Live Your Dreams.

Starting on Monday, January 29th, creatives can learn about confidence from an Olympic Gold medalist, a #1 New York Times bestselling author … and Positively Positive’s very own marketing manager, Kristina Shands!

In our interview on Finding Your Writing Voice, Kristina shared …

  • How to develop the willingness to sit in discomfort and know you’re okay!
  • Encouragment to dive deep and be vulnerable with your writing (aka, Why The Hero is The Hot Mess!)
  • Practical Dos and Don’ts for submitting your writing to major websites
  • The key piece that’s missing from many blog post submissions that Kristina reads
  • How asking “So what?” and utilizing the Hero’s Journey framework can supercharge your writing

Don’t miss Kristina’s interview; claim your free ticket to attend here: The Confidence Course Series.

The Confidence Course

Caroline McGraw is the creator of A Wish Come Clear, a blog about getting past perfect and rising up real. Visit and receive a free copy of Getting Real & Letting Go: A Collection of Quotes for Recovering Perfectionists. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.




Image courtesy of kblaw.