Why do I do this project?

Hint: The goal is not to stress out my friends

I was recently talking to a friend about my writing and she expressed some (very gentle, supportive) skepticism about it.

Why aren’t you just writing private journal entries?…I’m just not clear on what your goal is. Because writing has helped you, you seem to think it will help everyone, and I’m not sure that that’s true.

In response to the question, “Do you like to read what I write?” She said,

Sometimes, yes. Because I’m proud of you for doing it and happy that it helps you. But sometimes it makes me uncomfortable, because it is so public and confessional. And more and more it’s written in a self-help style that I have an almost visceral reaction to. I imagine it being read out loud in a calming voice, like the Headspace guy. I don’t like being told how I feel, and how I will feel if I do what you do. It also feels indulgent — I sometimes feel jealous about the time that you have (when you’re not working). Though I don’t feel jealous about you waking up in the middle of the night.
This is what me stressed looks like -- migraine.

This is what me stressed looks like -- migraine.

I want to address all of this because I don’t think she’s the only one who thinks these things. It causes me stress that I haven’t made my expectations clear for friends and loved ones who have witnessed every step of this journey.

For the past six months, I’ve been writing regularly in the form of two public projects: The Hero Series and The Beautiful Voyager.

In both projects I’m exploring whether cognitive behavioral techniques applied to social media will work to help myself and others feel better (= fewer migraine days), more positive, and more deeply connected. CBT is the theme that ties the work together.

“Yes, but what’s the goal?”

The doing is the goal.

It’s about learning not to say to myself, “If I get to this [arbitrary destination], I’ll be happy.” It’s flow or process-based (as opposed to goal-oriented) thinking. For both projects, the flow is the goal.

hero star

Hero Series: Focusing on the Good.

I started this project because I was feeling beaten down by the news. The project’s evolved a lot over time, but its core mission has remained the same.

Its goal is to collaboratively create a positive snowball effect that can help counteract the negative snowball of the news.

The Beautiful Voyager: Exploring Anxiety in Our Culture.

The Hero Series helped me manage my anxiety about the news by focusing on the good, but it also ignited my curiosity about the anxiety itself. I realized that there was so little information online that looked at the role of anxiety in our world as it related to me and the people around me. I was fascinated by how huge the topic is and how much there is to say.

The voyager comes in many shapes and sizes.

The voyager comes in many shapes and sizes.

Its goal is to provide a first stop for people realizing that they may be beautiful voyagers.

The Beautiful Voyager is a way bigger deal to me. When I think about many of the negative things happening in society these days can be traced to our collective fear around riding the wave of our anxiety. I understand this physiological, hormonal wave deeply because I live it every day.

Setting expectations

I wrote this post on Medium and shared it on Facebook and Twitter. It was really to help with clarity for people who have always known me, even before I was writing about these topics. The whole creation of public projects has been kinda cool, kinda awkward with some of these friends. I think people don’t always know how they are supposed to react. So this is for that purpose.

For those of you that know me, if this is your first time being introduced to these projects, here’s what I would hope:

Join the public FB group if it’s relevant to you: Hero SeriesBeautiful Voyager.

Join the writer’s group if you want to take part in the Hero Series conversation. If like me, you have an interest in knowing more about the role that anxiety plays in our culture, check out what I and other writers are posting on The Beautiful Voyager.

Friends rock.

Friends rock.

Starting these projects has helped me tremendously, despite moving through the strangeness of the public space. I’ve already found some amazing like-minded seekers and connected more deeply with others who were there all along.

I hope that helps clear up any lingering confusion about why I choose to spend my time focusing on the good and embarking on the Beautiful Voyager.