Real Stories

Stop What You’re Doing

I wrote a book friends. In the 11 days since it released, it has received more love than I imagined or hoped for. It has been a gift of awareness.

Turns out, I don’t handle success very well. (Surprise)
I wrap myself up in denial and use it to deflect all the good feedback like some Star Wars-level force field.

Here’s what my lovely little brain tells me:
☛ Because compliments make you weak.
☛ Because you’re only really successful when you’re suffering.
☛ Because if you get comfortable, this will be the last thing creative you do.
☛ Because most of it is probably not true and you need to keep hustling.
☛ Because if they only knew you, they’d never say these nice things.
☛ Because you’re inevitably going to let down all these people who love what you’ve written and want more.
☛ Because life is struggle and this doesn’t really feel like struggling right now, so STOP.

Awesome, right? Super fun for me, let me tell you.

I was raised in a fundamental, evangelical environment. I don’t identify as either of those things anymore, but the baggage stays with me (as baggage tends to do). One of the tenets of that belief system is that suffering here on Earth means reward later (in Heaven, presumably).

I come from a long, distinguished line of sufferers. We’re excellent at it. We sacrifice, we dig in our heels, we stay silent. We’re delightful at parties. We opt for discipline and gratitude over listening to our bodies, setting boundaries, and healing deep wounds.

One of the problems with this belief system is that it’s productive! We are able to get a lot of shit done with this way of thinking—so why change? We have a solution for everything.

Here are a few examples of solutions I’ve used (and the internalized messages behind them):

  • Don’t like it and don’t want to do it? Do it anyway. (*shouts* Discipline!)
  • Feeling tired, overwhelmed, stressed? Push yourself to the breaking point. (You don’t matter.)
  • In a relationship where someone treats you badly and makes you feel small? It’s all part of the master plan. (You need to sacrifice. and You don’t know what’s good for you.)
  • Feeling out of control of your life? Stop eating all the things you love until your body shrinks and you feel in control again. (Your body is not important.) and/or Exert an unwieldy amount of control over the minute details of your life. (It’s totally reasonable that you’re angry over the way he loaded the dishwasher.)
  • People questioning whether you’re okay? Isolate. Who needs friends, anyway? (They’re judging you.)
  • Hate your job and feel unfulfilled? Good, that’s the sweet spot for eternal reward. (Passion is not for you.)
  • Feeling uncertain about your abilities and your potential? Just do nothing. It’s safer. (You cannot trust yourself.)

This belief system has etched canyons in me. Changing them feels almost as daunting as filling the Grand Canyon a teaspoon at a time. These beliefs are not mine. I don’t want them. I didn’t ask for them. The job of replacing them, however, belongs to me.

Thankfully, I have an awesome therapist who asked what it would look like if, instead of actively trying to replace these beliefs, I just waited to see what comes to me naturally. Trusted my intuition. Let myself be without fixing or judgement or fear. What if I noticed it, became aware of it, and just sat with it until it resolved naturally?

Let me repeat that:
You don’t need to do anything.
You can let yourself be without fixing or judgement or fear.
You can wait for the answer. It will come.

It’s so simple, but it feels so difficult.

That’s the paradox—the idea is a breath of fresh air for this overachiever constantly on the verge of breakdown…and I have no f***ing idea how to do it.

So, instead of doing a bunch of research to figure out how to do this (which I really want to do), I’m asking myself to pause instead of fix, to listen instead of think, to let this awareness grow all on its own.

In the middle of trying to process all this, I realized that you might be struggling with the crushing pressure of your own struggle-fix-suffer-sacrifice mixtape.

I just want you to know that I see you.
You’re not alone.
You’re not an impostor.
You’re not failing or f***ing it up or making a mess of things.

All the pressure you feel is not yours.
It’s the weight of generations burdened with pulling themselves up by their bootstraps.
It’s the anvil of belief systems that you no longer have to carry.
Fear doesn’t have to be your motivation.
Struggle doesn’t have to be the thing that makes you feel alive.
You can be motivated by joy, hope, love, pleasure—whatever you want.
Be still, friend. The answers will come.
You don’t have to earn them and you don’t have to earn your place in this world.

In awe of the universe and you,

by Kaela Prall

Kaela is a writer and speaker with an MA in English and Creative Writing. An accomplished storyteller, she shares her personal journey toward healing in hopes of encouraging others. In her spare time, she plays guitar, works on her first novel, and tries to remember to water her plants. She lives in Wichita with her boyfriend, her daughter, and their dogs, Harley and Luma.

Her first book "Rupture and Repair" was published in March 2019 and is available on Amazon.


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