As the last day of my job got closer, I vacillated between excitement and paralyzing fear. There were moments it felt really good, like for the first time I was actually headed in the right direction. I was leaving it to write full time, no more excuses. This was right where God wanted me. And then out of the blue, I’d swim out too far and get caught in a riptide, a wave of doubt and anxiety crushed me.

I’d feel stuck, unable to move. It was as if the path was laid out in front of me but I had forgotten how to walk.

Can I be honest with you? Sometimes, it still feels this way. There are moments of complete peace and content. We keep in our lane, eyes straight ahead, one foot swiftly in front of the other. The words flow freely. Maybe an encouraging email comes our way telling us to keep going or an opportunity presents a glimmer of hope. We fight back the lies in our head and refuse to give fear a seat at the table.

And just like that, we’re back down. We decide to sit this one out. Figuring it’d be best if we just stayed on the bench and kept real quiet. Forget the art, forget all of it.

Anytime we walk in the direction of our dreams there will be pushback. Some friends might cheer us on while others don’t really understand. Colleagues could be both proud and disappointed. Family may offer advice that leaves us restless and confused.

I get it, I’m right there with you.

What I want for me and you is to keep going. I want us to keep walking forward, one step at a time. Easier said than done though, right? But what I’m slowly finding, through trial and error, through falling to my knees and getting back up again, are a few ways to keep pressing on.

First, find what keeps you tethered. It’s much easier to trip when we aren’t walking on solid ground. I find so much of my fear stems from forgetting who I am and how I was made. When I’m secure in that place, the words flow. I’m less wrecked by criticism or negativity. For me, that looks like morning pages and quiet meditation. It means sitting on my couch with palms faced up and open, asking the Spirit to meet me there. I often do this multiple times a day to remember I’m capable, fiercely loved, and wonderfully made.

You’re enough you know, just as you are, with or without making a single piece of art again. Let that settle in your bones just a little.

Second, prioritize the things that keep you well. We live in a world that celebrates hustle and success. We measure worth and importance by busyness and outputs. There are seasons of hustle but most often, we just do the best we can with the few hours we’ve got. I need movement and community. That looks like long walks or a yoga class. It means coffee with a dear friend or eating lunch at my table. These things keep me grounded. I’m a better friend, wife, daughter, and neighbor when I invest in my own heart space. And all of that makes me a better writer. It’s okay to allow a few boxes from the day to go unchecked if it means you invested in your well being. Our work matters yes, but our health and relationships matter even more. Find what keeps you well and do it on repeat. Mark your place there. It’s yours to keep.

Third, keep investing in your craft amidst all the pressure. As we move into our vocation more seriously, particularly when it becomes our full time pursuit, it’s easy to allow the pressure of “shoulds” and “by nows” and “do it this way” become our mantra. At least it did for me. I started focusing so much on the business side that I completely forgot why I began writing in the first place. I forgot why I loved it, why it mattered to me at all. I lost the wonder and joy from the sheer thrill of putting words to page. Of course, there will always be aspects of the creative life we do not enjoy, parts that feel tiresome and grueling. But when we start forsaking calling for competition and enjoyment with excelling, it leaves us frazzled and anxious. We stand motionless. We have to remember our why and fight to keep it. Dig in deep to the craft friend.

Write words for keeps, take pictures because it makes you feel good, splatter paint on a canvas just to remember how it feels.

What if we stared fear down and instead of walking around it, we walked towards it? What if this work we love, brought us abundant joy again? What if when our body needed rest we truly listened? I’m finding this is the sweet spot, a collision of all the best things, our sacred place on the map.

Don’t let the critics fool you. You, child of the Beloved, are standing smack dab in the middle of it all, right in the thick of inadequacy and surrender, of abiding and veering off course. Hang tight. We’re in this together. Light is just around the corner, we just have to keep walking forward.

And that art you make, the one that tugs at your heart and keeps you up at night, is needed and necessary here.