Look Past the Lights

April 11th, 2014, 1pm

There was a time when I would tell anyone who’d listen that I was an artist, not a designer.

After a shift in my university major, from painter to designer, I would tell folks that, yes, I design things, but I don’t write about them. I soon took on a part-time job as a newspaper columnist, and started telling people I was more comfortable working behind the scenes.

Hiding wasn’t an option after starting my first company, which led to more and more opportunities to deny my ability to do something, only to find — through happenstance or intention — that I was dead wrong on every count. I write blog posts, sure, but not books. I write books, of course, but not fiction. I write fiction, maybe, but not…

I remember the first time that I gave a public presentation; it was to a group of university students, and they were incredibly polite as I rambled, trying to make my way to some deep point but never quite making it there. I showed slides that seemed funny or interesting or impressive when I cobbled the deck together, but upon presentation made little sense and killed the rhythm.

My body still goes into ‘What the hell are you doing?’ mode before every talk I give, every audience to which I present. I take a few deep breaths and tell myself: This is what you do. This is your thing. You’ll get better at it over time, sure, but where you’re at now is good enough. If things don’t go according to plan, you’ll make it work. If you fail, it won’t be the end of the world; it won’t be the first time. Or the last.

These days, instead of telling myself I don’t do things, I tell myself there’s nothing I don’t do. No task that’s below me, no field that’s beyond my comprehension or mastery, should I apply myself.

When something needs writing, I write it. When a message needs delivering, I deliver it through whichever media makes the most sense for the intended audience.

And when a camera is in my face, or an audience somewhere out there, in a sea of darkness created by bright lights overhead, I look past the lights and say my piece.

There’s no other way I can be sure the words are said.

Max, Valerie, Lia and Christine said thanks.

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Colin Wright

Author, entrepreneur, and full-time traveler / I move to a new country every four months based on the votes of my readers / My work (http://colin.io) / My blog (http://exilelifestyle.com) / My publishing company (http://asymmetrical.co)

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