I Wanted This to Be Easy

Image credit: happilyalawmama.blogspot.com

Image credit: happilyalawmama.blogspot.com

For years I have said, both to myself and out loud, “I just want to do work I love and am passionate about.” I’ve had more than one job I didn’t like. Those jobs paid the bills, but they sucked the life out of me. And sooner or later I always got to the point of dreading going to work. If you’ve experienced something similar, you know it is not a fun way to live.

I’ve heard of people who just love their work. They say they can’t wait to get up on Monday morning because they’re excited to do what they’re passionate about. I’ve also heard that once you find your passion things will fall into place, doors will open, and it will be easy. Easy! Even Confucius said, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

I am a seeker and I searched for my passion with this expectation I mind. When I find ‘it’ things will be easy.

I went to college, got my first office job, worked for a non-profit, became a virtual assistant, worked from home for a commercial roofing company, went back to college, started a health and wellness business, raised money for breast cancer, worked for an event management company, became a life coach. I’ve read more books than I can count and have done copious amounts of personal growth work. That’s what my paid and unpaid “career path” has looked like over the last 20 plus years.  Turns out I am a high school guidance counselor’s worst nightmare!

Along the way I discovered—or rather rediscovered—a passion for writing. After a devastating breakup almost three years ago, I started this blog. Prior to that I noticed I got a lot of positive feedback on the recaps I wrote of my experiences doing the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk. I remembered my favorite thing in elementary school was creative writing. Occasionally I had heard that little whisper…the one that said I should write a book.

I started to realize I express myself better in writing than talking aloud. I am famous for the follow up email. If you’re not familiar with this, the purpose of the follow up email is to clarify what I said to you in person that I thought about later and wasn’t sure made sense. I can form sentences on the page easier than I can get them to come out of my mouth in any real coherent way.

Still, I had never thought of myself as a writer. I don’t even journal regularly.

But since I started this blog I can see writing is the one thing I feel compelled to do even though I don’t get paid for it. There’s so much I want to share…my thoughts, ideas, experiences, opinions. When I’m in the flow I lose all track of time. I forget to eat, drink or even pee. It was in those moments I started to feel like I finally found ‘it’…the thing I’m meant to do. Woohoo! Finally things will be easier now, right?

Not so fast!

Just getting myself to sit down and write regularly is excruciating. I have been laboring over this particular post off and on for weeks. And I thought when I outed myself on Facebook and gave myself a deadline for my book, that would kick my ass into gear, but it hasn’t. I recently signed up for a writing retreat with a New York Times Best-Selling Author and promptly lost several nights sleep. I have been riddled with anxiety, nausea, and dread ever since.

Where is all that ease, motivation and enthusiasm I’d heard so much about? Wasn’t that supposed to be the reward for finding ‘it’ in the first place? Easy was the carrot I’d dangled in front of myself for so long and frankly I’m pissed that hasn’t been my experience. I’m going to let you in on a little secret. This is the part no one mentions (or if they did I failed to hear). When it comes to actually doing the thing you’re meant to do in this world, it will scare the living hell out of you. And you will want more than anything to turn and run as fast as you can back to something that feels safe, comfortable…easy.

So where do I go from here? I could just quit. Give up the idea of being a writer. I don’t have to put myself through this. No one would blame me for not wanting to deal the anxiety, the self-imposed pressure, the fear of judgement, the feeling that I’m being turned inside out. I haven’t spent all this time searching for something that would make me feel like I want to lose my lunch. I was looking for ease, remember?

But I love writing. Actually, that’s not entirely true. As Michael Kanin said, “I don’t like to write, I love to have written,” and that’s a whole lot more accurate. Though I feel drawn to it, writing itself is mostly hard. Blog posts and book chapters rarely flow out of me perfectly written and ready to publish. It takes dedication and time and discipline (one of my least favorite things). But having written something that touches one other person…now that’s the sweet spot. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.

So I’m changing my expectation. Maybe it will never be easy. Maybe I will always be afraid, neurotic, anxiety-ridden. Maybe I will never wake up on Monday morning and be excited to write. But I’m doing it.

Writing is the one thing I can’t not do (yes, I realize that’s a double-negative…get over it!). Because every once in a while something I say resonates with someone else in this world and in that moment they realize they’re not alone. And that is reason enough for me to breath into that paper bag and keep writing.

“Many of us seek that which we will flee if we find it. I have seen this time and again, both in myself and in others. We seek, we search, and then we find a calling or a relationship that is a perfect reflection of our yearning… we turn away and go back to seeking, almost as though the light of our true-path was too bright for us, too vulnerable for us, too real for us. This is a pattern that we have to recognize and heal or else we will never stop looking for what is already there. True-path is not always around the next corner. Sometimes its right here.”      ~Jeff Brown


I’d love to hear your comments below. If you liked this post, then please ‘Like’ it and share with your friends. And don’t forget to click ‘Follow’ to get email notifications whenever I post something new. But most of all…thank you for reading and being a part of my journey.


11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kayce Stevens Hughlett
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 11:03:43

    right on! write on, sister!!! welcome to the sisterhood of excruciating loveliness!!! xo


  2. Katherine Shirley
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 12:25:20

    I too have had a variety of jobs over the years, but have eventually come to recognise the truth – my work starts from the moment I scramble to get my notepad out of my bag on the bus, runs to the moment I scramble to cram it back again and hit the pavement. The rest is largely filler. Lucrative filler sometimes, but hardly heavy on the braincells.


  3. martastjohnanders@gmail.com
    Jul 23, 2013 @ 14:03:37

    I know exactly what you mean, and I’m going to say what’s running through my mind because I think I need to hear it too. What if it’s like the horse whisperer? What if we’re facing it dead on, eyeball to eyeball and making the horse back off? What if we relax and invite the horse to come to us? (Can you tell I just read Martha’s article a few days ago?) I am giving myself food for thought, LOL.


    • Shannon McDonough
      Aug 21, 2013 @ 12:15:48

      I think there’s something to that, Marta. All that searching, grasping, trying can serve as a repellant of sorts. But I also think there’s fear involved. I think I’ve known writing was my calling for a long time, but I kept searching. It was as if the searching itself was a way to alleviate the fear of actually doing the thing I’m meant to do.


  4. ginacolorossi
    Jul 24, 2013 @ 09:46:29

    Love, love, LOVE!!!!!!!!!!

    ~ Gina


  5. donna
    Aug 16, 2013 @ 19:01:44

    I love this post for so many reasons. I love your honesty, your humor, your passion…but mostly because through all the fear, you are allowing yourself to do what you love. I love the way you write!!!


  6. debkrug
    Mar 29, 2014 @ 17:48:14

    Shannon, I just caught up with this post and it is so spot on. I have had this struggle with my writing for all my life. Sometimes I read back on something I wrote a long time ago and think wow, that is so good, I am a great writer and am so glad I wrote that. But it doesn’t help me at all to sit and start the next piece of work. I am the ultimate procrastinator. I have not written a word of the memoir since Haven. Even blogging is tough. But I do hope to read more of your words soon. xx


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