Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Are You Living True to Yourself?

Today we have a guest post from Sara Goff, author of I Always Cry at Weddings, and co-ordinator of the Beyond the Borders group in American Christian Fiction Writers. Welcome, Sara!


Are You Living True to Yourself?
Three Questions to Test Your Self-Awareness and Three Tips to Keep You Honest

Let’s start with three questions to test your self-awareness. It’s time to step outside of the daily grind for a fresh look at the habits shaping your life.


  • Do you aim for perfection or to be genuine?
  • Do you tap into your talents and passions on a regular basis? Do you even remember what they are?
  • Do you often feel misunderstood, that you don’t belong among your peers or coworkers?

Somewhere along the way you lost sight of what’s important. You accepted a job or relationship that causes ongoing self-doubt and anxiety. How did it happen?

Think back to elementary school, wearing gender-specific colors because that was what you were taught, avoiding toys considered to be uncool, and not admitting you liked certain foods or hobbies for fear of what others would say. Early on we were taught to consider others before ourselves, and we learned quickly that ridicule hurts.

When I was in the fourth grade, a tough girl in my class asked me if I knew how to make a fist, the proper way, with your thumb on the outside of your clenched fingers, not tucked inside. My mother and I were taking karate at the time, three evenings a week. Yes, I knew how to make a fist, but I didn’t want that girl, or anyone else, to know I practiced martial arts, so I lied.

That kind of self-denial can stay with you into high school. Perhaps popularity determined the friends you made, not personality. Maybe you played a sport or joined a club for your parents? To what extent did peer pressure influence your decisions?

In college, choices carry greater consequences. I’ve heard the same story of regret countless times: If only I had chosen a major that interests me. How easy it is to choose a major based on your parents’ or guidance counselor’s opinion, or with the single goal of obtaining a lucrative job. I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was in college, but I didn’t major in writing for fear of failure.

Post-college, it’s the real world, and likely your childhood dreams have been set aside. There are bills to pay, a spouse to love, and children to raise, (better than you were raised, of course.) You judge people the same unfair way you feel judged by the world. You become afraid of change, of being alone, of the stranger you’ve become to yourself.

But have hope! Begin the New Year with a sharper mind and a softer heart.

It’s never too late to use the interests and the skills God gave you. They’re still there! A sudden career change might not be the answer, but you can volunteer within your community or at a local school. The effort you put into serving others will ultimately serve you. Take a class. Join a social group. Start building a new resume, one that represents YOU.

Here are three tips to uncover, brush off, and develop your TRUE self:

  • Stay "in the moment." The past is gone, the future is a mystery, and all we really have is Now. Being true to yourself is recognizing that every moment is a precious gift, yours to accept or ignore, to use or misuse. One great tool to achieve this state of mind: Meditation. Start by sitting quietly for five minutes each morning. Concentrate on your breathing. Then feel the difference.
  • Focus on Possibility, rather than Perfection. Keep a positive attitude in whatever you do, but also set realistic goals. You can move a mountain, one stone at a time. Know your limitations and believe in your strengths.
  • Commit to self-development: In what ways can you improve yourself and your life? Follow the three "P's":  Patience, Practice, and Perseverance. Skills will grow, talents will bloom, and so will your self-respect. Do your best in all things, at all times. Taking this challenge will help you to stay "in the moment."
Many years ago, I set the goal of writing and publishing a novel. That goal was important to me, as if woven into my identity, but it didn’t mean I started out a confident writer. I had a lot to learn about the craft of writing, about the publishing industry and the absolute necessity of a marketing plan. There were times on my writing journey when I didn’t want people to ask me how it was coming along; I felt ashamed of my slow progress. But getting over the rejections, like stepping stones, led to moments of hope and eventually success with the launch of I Always Cry at Weddings (WhiteFire Publishing). I believe that with perseverance and prayer, we can fulfill our ‘impossible’ dreams.

May this New Year be filled with the joy of knowing you are always "becoming," always improving, and truly living each moment of this wonderful gift: Life!


Sara Goff recently moved to Connecticut with her husband of 14 years and their two sons, after living in Stockholm and then London for seven years. While living in Manhattan prior to their move abroad, Sara especially loved being a writing instructor for Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen Writers Workshop, founded by author Ian Frazier. Goff was also a writing instructor for The National Arts Club’s education program for students. She has spoken at the Soup Kitchen, several inner-city high schools, and Saint Francis College in Brooklyn about the writing process and the power of the written word.

Goff was accepted into Sewanee Writers’ Conference and received two fellowships to Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia and Nairobi, Kenya. As a longtime member of American Christian Fiction Writers, she is the Director of their International Zone.

I ALWAYS CRY AT WEDDINGS, Goff’s debut novel about figuring out life and finding love in New York City, was released in September by WhiteFire Publishing. It has since been called a “Must-read for 2015” by USA Today. Proceeds from the book go towards her educational charity Lift the Lid, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that encourages writing in Africa and the Philippines. Visit www.lift-the-lid.org for more information on the charity and www.saragoff.com/books for more on I Always Cry at Weddings.


Places to connect with Sara:





8 comments:

  1. Hi Sara, wonderful having you pop over to ACW. And what a fabulously encouraging post to read first thing in the morning.

    One of the great aspects to being a writer is that we're always learning. The more we write, the better we become. Especially when we overlay wisdom from others plus specific exercising of the craft.

    Bless,

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    1. Hi, Ian! Thanks for reading my post. It's great to be here. Yes, living and writing truly is a process, and we best not try to go it alone!!

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  2. Thank you, Sara, for all the important thoughts you have shared with us in your post. What a shame if, as you have said, we end up becoming strangers to ourselves--especially since God created us the way we are, each with some unique aspect of the image of our Creator about us! So easy to do though. My last completed manuscript, currently titled 'Coming Home: finding my true self in God' focuses on this very topic because I see how important it is in my own life and in the lives of those around me.

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    1. Thank you for commenting, Jo-Anne, and for sharing your work. "Coming Home" sounds interesting, important, and powerful. I look forward to seeing it in print.

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  3. Thank you, Iola, for inviting me to blog on Australasian Christian Writers. You've been a huge supporter of my work throughout the launch of I Always Cry at Weddings. I feel so much gratitude. Many blessings!

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    1. Welcome to ACW, and thank you for your inspiring words!

      I'll be on the lookout for your next novel . . .

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  4. Hi Sara, Excellent post and welcome to ACW! My writing journey to publication was long, but I wouldn't change any of it because I learned to enjoy and appreciate the journey. Thanks for visiting with us today :)

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    1. Thank you, Narelle! I'm so grateful that you are a part of my writing journey!!

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