I have had a rather painful epiphany of sorts over the last week.
For years I believed myself to be a sort of inspired "flashes of brilliance" person, the sort of person that succeeded by way of creative insights that seemed to leap out of mind into a waiting world. A creative mind of sorts, one that rollicked from tasks to task able to pick it up and make my keen analysis and provide solutions and then rocket on to the next item. Success was always one (or - let us be fair - two) brilliant, penetrating ideas away.
It turns out that is probably not true.
I do not know that it was never true. Maybe it was, back when the world was younger and some things had not been discovered which have sense been discovered. But it is certainly not true now.
The error in my thinking has been revealed to me all at once, propelled by a short personality analysis that suggested that I am not what I have thought myself to be (more on that, perhaps, tomorrow) and a series of work failures where "creative insights" are no match for planning and allowing one's self enough time.
In other words, the only inspiration that is happening here is dogged, methodical work.
I understand if you find this amusing or even silly - after all, to many it may be a very self evident outcome. But to myself, quietly simmering in my own juices about what I believed to be true, it is simultaneously the most shocking and horrifying thing of my recent life.
Shocking? Yes, because I have (literally) never seen this in myself - or believed it to be true, anyway. I could run a list of things that I did well at (through college) and came easily to me. And even afterwards, there really were occasional moments where my creativity did move things forward dramatically, although probably a lot less often than I liked to believe.
Horrifying? Yes, because I grasp what that means for me (I know myself at least that well). Truth be told, to do something well I have to do it slowly. Which means a lot of work, a lot more work than I had thought necessary or desirable.
Dogged and methodical I understand the concepts. And occasionally I have even practiced them. But now I find myself confronted with the reality that this really how the rest of my life is going to go.
The prideful part of me grouses about this because the dogged and methodical is not celebrated anywhere in our culture (a side shout out to my ego, which thinks it really is all about me). It is the creative, the flashy (nothing flashy about methodical!), the amazing, that is celebrated. Perhaps a nod is made once in a while to "the tireless person doing X" - but no child ever in school grows up hoping they have such a career.
But I have to have the strength of character to look at myself and accept this as truth. Not that such people do not exist - such people are just not me.
It is adjusting to the fact that today will quite likely be like yesterday and tomorrow as well - and that actual success (if such a thing is possible) will take a lot longer and be a lot less glamorous than I had ever anticipated.
In some ways I envy that guy long ago who thought the world was his for creative ideas and the applications of them. And I am grateful, I suppose, that he had luxury of pretending that it was really true. At least he believed the world was his oyster to be shucked, not a hard rock mine to be patiently dug.