"Just stall until the answer presents itself." — Tina Fey
I had a really hard time connecting to my intuition for about, oh, let's say, 18 years. I lost it around 12 when things started getting really prickly in the social department and picked it up again around 30 when I realized none of the people I was worried about impressing was paying any attention to me.
The angst of intuition deficit didn't occur to me until things stopped working according to plan. This was at about 25. So for five solid years, I knew for sure that I had no idea what to do. Five years of zig-zagging like a death-destined fly trying to outrun my cat. Half a decade of trying on other people's suggestions like the hand-me-downs they were: ratty, out-of-date and ripping at the elbows.
I knew I wasn't connecting, but I didn't know how come.
Fast forward past the psychoanalysis and we get to the day when I finally tapped into that elusive mother of them all: my inner voice.
It came in the morning. Everything was quiet.
And for no particular reason, I started to write a book.
Of course, I had no idea it was going to be a book. It was more like a 6 a.m. avalanche of unspoken theories from the past handful of years. I didn't know why the words came, I just didn't try to stop them.
That "not trying to stop the words" was new for me. Usually I was buttoning up, fitting in, smoothing over and making it easy for everyone around me. Granted, writing alone in your kitchen before the sun rises is not exactly a rebellion. But, when you neglect impulse after impulse, year after year, it sure can feel like one.
Fast forward again through lots of tears and emotional upheavals and conversations with Craig and my parents about WTF AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?! and I had a book, published and distributed to an audience. I had practiced using my gut in one specific avenue—book-writing—but now, how was I going to broaden the exercise? Ya know, like make it applicable to regular, post-writing-a-book life?
One interesting thing that happened when I wrote my book was it didn't feel like I was writing at all. It felt like some wiser, more grounded and less caffeinated version of myself dispensing word after word. She wasn't in the mirror, but she was around.
Following our instincts—especially as women who are forever extinguishing our feminine intuition in order to avoid seeming too damn feminine—is a tricky assignment. But one thing I've found helps is to ask future me. I try to connect with the wise, old version of myself at 88 or even 42 and say: WWFCD? (Future Court, of course.)
The answer doesn't always come right away. Sometimes there's too much gunk to hear her outright. But when I have gotten quiet and I have sincerely and deeply asked her, she has responded, and I quote:
You can talk about living, or you can live.
You don't need it.
You have all you need.
There's no time to waste.
You'll figure it out.
You have every right.
I'm not joking, those are honest-to-god quotes from Future Court of the great beyond. I got quiet and received the nudge.
There isn't anyone else out there who could be more right about you than you. It doesn't mean we'll never be scared or uncertain or feel like our world is spinning a tiny bit out of control. But when we listen up to the intuition housed in the quiet spaces of our lightning-fast, despotic fear-governed brains, we know it's right. For that intuition to survive the mind chaos and still show up? Yeah. It's right on.
So where are you right now? Don't know what you should do about the job? Or your boo? Or the test results? Or the friendship? Or the career path? Don't know which way to turn? Don't know what to do?
Oh, sure you do.