There is Beauty in Letting Go
How letting go of expectations and misconceptions allowed my creative juices to flow
I found that there’s something quite exhilarating in writing for myself. Liberating, even. This feeling that you’re doing something for yourself. Not for someone else’s company, or for a project that isn’t yours. I’ve got a whole white canvas in front of me and it’s very exciting. I make my own rules, my own hours, and I decide how much time I want to invest in this.
You might think I’m overreacting, or that I’m blowing this out of proportion. I’m not starting a million-dollar business, I’m just writing. But I believe this is the result of overcoming my fear and putting myself out there. Every step counts when you’re doing something for yourself.
If you missed my previous article that talked about this, you can read it here.
I found that this next part came like a blessing in disguise. That blank paper looked so promising, but it was also holding a lesson at the end of it.
To create anything, one has to let go of misconceptions and pre-conceived expectations to get in touch with what really matters. Letting go, or what the French call lâcher prise, means letting go of what we can’t control and acting on what’s on our scope and range.
To me, this meant releasing myself of something I created in my head — realizing I can’t control everything, and that’s okay.
There’s beauty in letting go. But no one said it’s going to be easy.
Picture this: You just overcame the first main obstacle of a new project and you feel empowered to keep going. You have so many ideas and you feel this childish excitement bubbling inside of you. What do you do? You start laying out all the possible routes you can explore next.
You get some great ones down, so you start hashing out its sequence, drafting a rough skeleton of the major points you think would fit well. You’re carried away by this wave, the feeling that you can conquer anything. Then, you look at the paper in front of you and you’re not happy with the result.
Frustrating, right? It’s like leaving the best bite for the end, but then eating it without realizing it’s the last one.
This happened to me. My blank canvas represented my future articles, and I genuinely had the feeling I could conquer Medium and all other platforms out there after writing my first piece.
I came up with a messy list written hastily, a mush of topics and ideas. In it, you can find a funny anecdote, a sentimental flashback, a thoughtful quote, some interesting takeaways, and even an emotionally charged metaphor. If taken apart, they could become invaluable material for future pieces. But together, they don’t look so great.
When I looked at my notebook, I was disappointed. I thought: “Meh. I’m not feeling it.”
I realized then that the blank canvas wasn’t so pretty anymore. I was looking for a topic that would bring a fluid continuity to my first article, a dynamic sequel that would show my new readers that they should keep reading me.
I thought my first piece was good, so I wanted to write something that would make me proud again.
I was on a high, and I wasn’t ready to let go.
Lesson number 1: When things don’t go the way you imagined, don’t force it.
If it flows, it flows right? But I wanted to make it flow. So what did I do?
I thought I’d sleep on it and try again the next day, convinced I could change the world in one go. The blank canvas was turning bleak, but I didn’t see it straight away.
Coming to my senses meant letting go of my initial high and admitting I needed to put in some work. But why would I want to do that?
I took advantage of a sunny spell during my Sunday to go out on a walk. It was lunchtime, so the park wasn’t crowded with kids yet. I took my notebook with me in the hope I’d find some hidden gem in that messy compilation of thoughts and get inspired to write something great again. I didn’t and I wasn’t.
I set myself up for failure, building a lot of expectations and clearly putting a lot of pressure on myself. When I couldn’t carry out the task I set myself upon, I didn’t give up and pursued nonetheless.
It was only when I was sitting at the park, thinking about how dangerously close those pigeons were to me that I realized I had to let go. But no one said it’s going to be easy.
Lesson number 2: The reason why you want to let go is to allow your full potential to come out.
“But letting go of what, Laisa?” You may ask yourself. It can be of self-made expectations; things that didn’t go your way, stuff you wanted to do but didn’t manage. Anything and everything.
When I found myself confronted with this second article, I experienced a mix of motivation and frustration.
I set a structure, a time, and a process to make myself write, even though I am not like that. I tackled this as if I was going to work when actually I was drying up all my creative juices. I was blocking my full potential from coming out by trying to control everything instead of letting them be.
I temporarily forgot I’m writing for myself, and the only person I can let down is myself. Powerful, liberating… but scary.
I had to let go of the image I created in my head of what this journey was going to be like, and of how I wanted to birth this article.
All of my ideas have the potential to become great articles, but I first had to let go of expectations, self-inflicted pressure, and judgements to allow my full creative juices to flow.
Lesson number 3: Letting go doesn’t mean giving up.
Truth be told, I find I have a hard time doing letting go. In French, letting go is called “lâcher prise”, and it involves psychological release from the desire to control. In other words, it seems that I can be a bit of a control freak.
Believe me when I say I genuinely want to “lâcher” everything sometimes. I’d love to be that carefree person that tries something, and if it doesn’t happen, says “Oh, it’s okay. C’est comme ça.” But no, I’ve never been like that.
Releasing doesn’t come naturally to me. When I want something, I rarely ever stop until I get it. I will work until I get it.
I spent one year working to convince my father to let me study abroad when I was 18. When I set foot in London, I told myself I wasn’t going to go back — I was going to do everything in my power to get a work visa and then a passport. 10 years later I managed the first part and have started the procedure for the second one.
Sure, I’ve started projects and didn’t finish them. But they are always on the back of my mind, waiting for their turn to be completed. Recently, thanks to the pandemic, I got back to painting and playing the piano, two things that I love doing but I never made time for it.
What I mean by this is that I don’t like to leave things unfinished. Yes, I have a hard time letting go (just ask some of my exes). That’s why I kept going trying to write this article even when I should have let things go. I absolutely wanted to get this right on the first try.
Lâcher prise doesn’t mean giving up; it’s more about not getting hung up on things you can’t control.
So if you want to get something done, a project, a course, a new business, you might need to let go of preconceived ideas of how things are done and try different routes to achieve your goal.
So how do you let go? It’s the question of the century.
I am currently working on lâcher prise. I don’t think I’ll become an easy-does-it, whenever-it-comes kind of writer. I will work to accept that mushed-up sappy sentences are diamonds in the making that can take different forms: a well-written article, a funny anecdote about my teenage years, or just stuff that needed to be written down and not read. And that’s okay.
If letting go is about renouncing the effort to control what can’t be controlled, then we should practice it more. It would make us healthier and happier.
The most important takeaway here is that letting go doesn’t only come in the form of sipping margaritas on a sunny beach in Mexico, or by burning photos and letters as a rite of passage.
I can’t wait for my annual leave to let things go, or for something to happen that will force me into letting go.
Letting go is about coming to terms with what has happened — or not — and letting it be. Moving on, there and then.
It’s about how you view things and what emotional weight you give to them. Learn from this experience and then do something about it.
I viewed writing as liberating and exhilarating but gave it a weight that was too heavy for it to carry, too soon. So, I let my first attempt at this article rest. I learned from it and then I started over. I respected my creativity and the way my brain works.
That being said, the rough draft I had originally planned for the “letting go” article did not help me here. This took a completely different turn than expected. I’ll make sure to cover it soon though as it’s on top of my “potential next articles” list of topics.
I was actually on my way to make some tea and finish my watercolour, but boom, inspiration hit. I guess things aren’t always made to go as planned. Maybe going to the park earlier did help after all.