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Are you in a shadow career?

Have you read Steven Pressfield’s work? I’m obsessed with him. In his book Turning Pro he writes, 

“Sometimes, when we’re terrified of embracing our true calling, we’ll pursue a shadow calling instead. The shadow career is a metaphor for our real career. Its shape is similar, its contours feel tantalizingly the same. But a shadow career entails no real risk. If we fail at a shadow career, the consequences are meaningless to us.”

Can I get an AMEN?!

I’ve been pursuing this shadow career of copywriting for a little while now. And the irony is that while I built up my business I’ve been “failing” at my calling – which is writing – because I haven’t been writing. 

I’ve been neglecting my second novel for almost a year now. And that’s partly because I made a decision to focus on the business in the short term so that I could have more control over my time in the long term. 

But I haven’t taken back that control of my time. I’ve let the business expand to take up all the work time I have. 

Now, I’m not saying that I’m a failure or that anything is wrong with the path I’ve taken. I wanted to have my own business, and I do. I wanted to leave my job, and I did. 

And now I’m ready to embrace my true calling, and I am. 

So let me ask you this: where are you pursuing something that doesn’t actually matter to you? Where are you making money “over here” because you just “can’t” make a living doing what you really want to do? 

I’m not saying go out and quit your job right now. I’m just asking you to admit to yourself where you are playing small. Where you’re excelling at something that entails no real risk and has no real meaning for you, anyway. 

And here’s another question that came to me this week: 

Where are you playing a role instead of being yourself?

For example … I like to practice being very careful about how I introduce myself in different contexts. 

So even though my husband is a pastor, you’ll almost never hear me say, “I’m Pastor Simeon’s wife.” I always say, “I’m Brooke. Pastor Simeon is my husband.”

If I’m meeting another parent at daycare, I try to say, “I’m Brooke. Jacqueline and Elijah are my kiddos” instead of “I’m Elijah’s mom” or “I’m Jacqueline’s mom.”

In other words: I try to be very careful with my language not to define myself as my role. Mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend. 

I am all these things, and more. 

It’s the “more” that I’m exploring now. 

Because I want to be braver.

More present.

More me. 

The song “Brave” by Sara Bareilles has been stuck in my head all week. 

Say what you want to say

And let the words pour out


I wanna see you be brave

Let your words be anything but empty

Why don’t you tell them the truth?

Here’s the truth I want to tell you:

You are more powerful than you know. 

More beautiful than you believe. 

And more worthy than you fear. 

Make it a beautiful week, my friend.

October 25, 2019

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