Let Your Tears Refresh You

This month I’m participating in the A to Z Challenge, blogging every day of the month of April, except Sundays, on a topic from A to Z. I’m posting short-form topics meant to get you talking and sharing! Join the discussion in the comments.

Leonard Peikoff, Ayn Rand’s intellectual heir, does a podcast in which he answers questions listeners ask him. On May 12th, 2011, he answered the question: “In her early writing years, how did Ayn Rand manage having a job unrelated to her career to support herself, while still pursuing her writing? Did she ever mention any suggestions for the best way for a person to deal with such a situation?”

Wow. What a question. How many of us have also struggled with this question?

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The answer surprised me.

(Listen to the podcast first before continuing on, if you want. I’ll wait.)

Ready?

The key point, for me, was this:

She expressed her emotions about it freely.

She expressed what she felt about it to herself and to her husband. She expressed the hatred she felt for the jobs she had to take. Many nights, when it came time to write, she cried. She let herself cry, freely.

How many times have you allowed yourself to cry over the terrible pent-up frustration you have over not having as much time as you would like for your creative work? At having to prioritize a day job or school, oftentimes doing work that isn’t worth much or that you simply hate, over that beautiful thing you could be making instead? That thing that might change someone’s life?

It’s incredibly painful, and the idea of letting ourselves feel it can be scary, too, because we think that if we start feeling that pain, we will never stop. We’ll go crazy with it. But the truth is that it’s the not feeling it that makes us crazy with it.

Let it out.

When I first heard this podcast, I joked that I had dealt with it in a lot of worse ways than crying. Like drinking. Like dating dangerous men. Only, it wasn’t totally a joke. I had done those things, and I’d done them to avoid, in the short-term, the pain I was feeling from working a job I hated while struggling so hard to continue creating.

These days, I’m doing better at chasing my dreams despite the risks. These days, I cry more when I need to.

Ayn Rand cried openly and guiltlessly at home. Often.

She didn’t cut down her own feeling for her own work and her own value; she kept it alive in her mind. She allowed herself to express the pain of relegating that value to only a small portion of her life.

And then she got to work.

Do you cry when you can’t get to work? Will you now? What other ways have you dealt with the struggle of having a full-time job or other major distractions while trying to create? Which ones were constructive? Which were destructive?

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