The Dangers of Chasing Appropriateness



When I don't write for a long period of time, I become paralyzed. This paralysis doesn't start out as a physical one, but as it crystalizes me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I become physically rigid over time. My hands will not move. My mouth will not move. My mind will not move. Instead, I loop through things that are comfortable, mindless, and bright with distraction. I worry about offending someone. I worry about not being liked. I worry about being right. This is all from chasing appropriateness.

Being appropriate isn't necessarily bad, but chasing appropriateness is dangerous when you are running after a definition of appropriate that is not your own or has no context to you.

You risk losing your art, your words, your voice, your spirit and self when you don't define what is appropriate for you during the time and the circumstance that you stand in. Actually, leaning in to what is "appropriate" is many times one of the laziest things you can do as a writer and an artist.

Why Do We Chase Appropriateness?

Reason 1: Expectations, both outer and inner

For most people, the bulk of everyday stress comes from worrying about living up to what is expected them. These expectations, both inner and outer, are often based on boxes that the people around us place us in. Over time, we become so accustomed to living within a certain box that we adopt the same built in expectations that come with these boxes for ourselves without questioning why we are in the box in the first place. If you are a quiet nurturer, you may be expected to give and be a caretaker constantly, and the moment that you take a few moments to pursue a personal interest might come as an unwelcome change to those around you. Likewise, if you are a bubbly fun girl, the moment you try to make a shift to be taken more seriously, people around you may start to complain that you've "changed". Create your own expectations for yourself and do everything you can to avoid allowing others to shift those expectations to ones that make you fit more easily into their agendas at your expense. When your inner expectations of yourself change, people around you will change their outer expectations accordingly.

Reason 2: Distractions

By distractions, I mean social media. Social media is a wonderful tool that we use everyday to stay connected and broadcast and publish our own content. But social media can also contribute to a bad habit of chasing appropriateness that is irrelevant to your life. When a connection on social media posts a life event, such as an engagement, baby, new job, etc, that may be a small pinch within us that pushes us to start to chase things that might not be appropriate for our lives at the time. Simplify social media to reduce distractions that keep you from creating.

Reason 3: Anxiety/Fear

And yes, social media and expectations left unchecked can devolve a person into bouts of anxiety and fear. It's that icy feeling accompanied by a whiny little voice in your head that doubts you, insults you, and tells you to give up. When you get here, stop and reassess what you really want. Then, take some time to write a plan down as to how you are going to get back on track and get focused.

These tips tend to help me when I become overwhelmed and impatient with my process as a writer and creator.

What are some things that help you?