Today’s quote is from another one of the most interesting ladies of the twentieth century, Anaïs Nin. Fearless, free-spirited and quick-witted, the author revolved her career and life around pushing boundaries — both her own and society’s.
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
For Nin, who was curious, well-traveled and ambitious, the restraints of polite society and gender norms were stifling. She challenged notions of propriety, intimacy and justice in her diaries, novels and lectures. Her confidence in confronting life honestly and on her own terms can be an inspiration for those of us who are less sure of our own voice or direction.
While some of us may not personally feel held back by society’s expectations, usually our own perceptions of our abilities can be more damaging. Insecurity breeds bad attitudes, fueled by negative feedback loops which convince us that failing at any effort is worse than not trying at all.
We all have creative potential, but the difference between those who realize this potential and those who do not is sometimes just the willingness to risk comfort for growth. I’m not saying everyone has an inner Picasso, I simply mean that we are more likely to identify, use and improve our personal talents (whatever they may be) when we have the ability and willingness to step outside of our comfort zones. We thrive when we’re okay with being bad at something or looking foolish long enough to adopt new knowledge, perspectives and skills. Getting to this point — just before you’re able to blossom — requires a well-nourished sense of curiosity and a childlike acceptance of our own shortcomings/ignorance. Only then can we push through insecurity and move toward self-actualization.
Of course, stepping out of our comfort zones is a privilege many don’t have. Having the internet at your disposal, having access to culturally-rich programs and institutions, being able to move with relative ease within your region or country are all luxuries to most people around the world. So if there is anything you could be doing to learn, connect or grow, then do it, even if only in the spirit of gratitude.