I had a conversation yesterday with a client, we'll call her Millicent, who has, not one, but multiple fantastic, creative, transformative, BIG visions, and who seems to be growing in doubt and fear the closer she comes to realizing them. That doesn't surprise me, since the farther we get from our comfort zone and what's known and "safe," the more threatened our ego mind becomes, and the more it starts kicking up the volume on all the reasons why we can't do what we're doing, why it's a terrible idea, and why we're going to fail (and end up on the street, and die, if we're really going to follow this path to its logical conclusion).
What did surprise me, or at least really intrigue me, was the question Millicent was hitting up against hard: Am I really a hat person?
Now, as important as it is to know whether or not you like hats, and which hats look good on you, that is not what we were talking about.
What she was really asking was whether or not she was, essentially, someone with a particular passion and purpose and drive that she could actually trust and follow, or if she needed to, instead, accept that she was supposed to make her way "in the more traditional structured path," and not be thinking that she or her work really had some big "purpose."
Or, as she put it, "Do you really feel like I am at heart one of the 'hat people'?"
Which means this: Millicent had worked since she was very young. While her sisters spent money cautiously, on responsible, practical things, she fell in love with a hat. A ridiculous, wonderful hat with a long tulle train that she "had no business buying." She spent all of her hard-earned money on that ridiculous, wonderful hat. And it made her very happy!
Over the years, Millicent continued to follow her heart and her passions and her instincts in ways that sometimes brought her joy and sometimes seemed to be more about acting out from a place of pain than about what she truly wanted. And then she grew up and decided she couldn't be that person anymore, that she needed to "not be her" in order to be "a good person."
And now, years later, that person she'd tried to banish, the one in the hat with the long tulle train, is trying to make herself heard again. This time, instead of hats and fancy French shoes, she's making noise about an innovative business concept, a book she wants to publish, a community she wants to create that meets a deep, soulful need. And Millicent is wondering if she can trust that voice, if she can trust her instincts, or if she needs to keep trying to quash her creativity and difference in order to be a good, successful, acceptable person.
When Millicent emailed me in great concern about whether I thought she was actually a "hat person" (one who follows her yearning and instincts, and trusts them, even though she feels she cannot justify them or explain why they're right), I recognized the question as one so many entrepreneurs and visionaries ask. Can they trust their instincts? Are their ideas really crazy? Why are they so different from so many people around them? And is it really possible that they may be meant to pursue their dreams, that it isn't just some silliness they need to get over and go get a regular job?
I wanted to share my reply to Millicent's email because I had a feeling other people might need to hear it too--and Millicent agreed. Here it is:
Are You a Hat Person?
Yes, this makes sense, and yes, I really, really know that you are one of the hat people. Non-hat people don't wonder whether they're one of the hat people. Hat people have doubts and fears, they hit times when they think maybe they should give up or maybe they're just imposters, but they also have something calling them--sometimes loudly, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes it's so quiet they can't hear it for a while, but it always comes back.
Not all hat people will act on it. Some may squash it, or life circumstances may get so big it feels easier to ignore it. Not all hat people (or maybe most or even all hat people) have their visions come to life in exactly the way they imagined or wished for it, BUT if they are able to be honest and courageous and resilient and have faith and do the work, I believe they create and experience great and deep meaning in their lives.
You don't have to know the story of your purpose--you don't even have to name a purpose, and purpose can also change. What I think you can start practicing is the story that you are exactly who you are, and it is right. You are supposed to feel what you feel and want what you want, and the people around you may or may not get it or approve of it but YOU are allowed to get it and approve of it.
I really, REALLY do not believe that "the more traditional structured path" is the path that will work best for you or make you happiest. It's what you've been trying for a while now, and the other ideas just keep coming. I work with visionaries, people who see things that aren't there yet but know they could exist and make a difference. You just are one of those people.
This path isn't always easy; you're creating something that hasn't existed before, you're not walking a well-worn path, people don't necessarily get what you offer yet--I'm saying this to reassure you that doubt and fear and resistance are all really normal, and that feeling those things doesn't mean this isn't your path. Focus on the vision, focus on simply experimenting with living this new path--you can always go back to the old one if you decide that's what you want.
I hope this helps...
Wishing you joy, whatever hat you may (or may not) be wearing--and if you happen to be a hat person and want to make YOUR glorious vision real, give me a call...hat people are my absolute favorite people in the world!