The Truth Behind the Scarcity Myth
As a spiritual searcher and self-proclaimed self-help junkie, I've heard countless times about the scarcity myth versus embracing abundance. I've read all the reassurances that someone else getting praise or success does not in any way take away from the abundant success that is available to me. And every time I hear it, I take it in with a mix of gratitude and a sense that while it's well-intentioned and undoubtedly true, it also feels like these assurances are missing the mark somehow.
Because it's not just that I fear there is a limited amount of good things available in this world. I believe in a generous God who gives us everything we need, and wouldn't ever give us a dream if He (or She) didn't also provide a way for it to happen. Fear of scarcity is not the whole story, at least not for me. There is something deeper and darker going on underneath.
I've been trying for years to fully understand the dark seed of envy and jealousy that blooms in my chest when I hear someone utter a particular kind of comment to someone else. It's the feeling that something precious is being yanked away from me, and I struggled to define it or figure out where it was coming from.
For example, I still remember this moment, even though it happened years ago. I was scrolling on Instagram, and I stopped to read a post and the comments that followed it. A friend of mine was sharing about an experience she had had, and the comments she received were so supportive and encouraging. One of them, though, stopped me in my tracks and had me immediately feeling angry. It wasn't that the comment was mean; in fact, it was very positive. This person shared her opinion that my friend had such an amazing story to share (very true), and she should write a book about her experiences. Now my friend does, in fact, have quite a story to tell and really should write a book about it. But I nonetheless felt personally offended by that comment.
Why? Because I've read that comment many times, directed at many writers or aspiring writers I know, and each time I read it, it feels like an arrow directed straight at my heart.
The same thing happens when I hear bloggers talk about how they started with only a handful of readers, or a teeny tiny newsletter list, and then little by little they started getting new followers, and now they have thousands.
Or when photographers talk about how they were taking photos just for fun, with no intent of doing it professionally, and then their friends started asking them to take photos for them, and all of a sudden a business was born.
Or when another friend started a new Instagram account, and she grew it to 5,000 followers in one year.
I know that this kind of abundance is available to me. But it's not present in my life, and when I see these stories play out in front of me, I feel filled with so much insecurity it feels like my dreams are being ripped away from me by some mysterious but very threatening force.
Because as a writer, when I hear someone else being told they should write a book, it reminds me that no one has ever told me I should write a book. And that feels like a slap in the face, a big bold flashing sign telling me that I am not a good enough writer.
Because as a photographer, only one time has a friend ever asked me to take photos for her. And she was happy with them, and asked me to do it again, but no one else has ever asked. I shared those photos on social media, and while I got lots of positive feedback, there were zero requests from anyone else, then or now.
Because I've been on Instagram for years, and I'm nowhere close to 1,000 followers, let alone 5,000.
Because I've been blogging for at least 6 years, and I still struggle for every single reader I get, and it's still a miniscule number.
All of these things tell me that the true problem isn't a fear of scarcity. Not really. It's actually a fear that those things haven't happened for me because I'm not good enough.
No one has told me I should write a book because I'm not actually that good of a writer.
No one has asked me to take photos for them because I'm not actually that good of a photographer.
I don't have 1,000 followers on anything because no one is actually that interested in anything I have to say, or because there is some secret that I am not privy to and no one is sharing it.
Because if I was that good, wouldn't it have happened by now? Is this a sign from the Universe that I should give up?
I don't know. And I don't know that I will ever stop having that feeling. All I can do is go back to why I write, or take photos, or do anything else. Because I love to do these things. Because these things make me happy. Because I would never want a life where writing and photography were not present. So I'll keep doing them, even if nobody pays any attention, and even if I'm not any good at them. Because ultimately the only opinion that really matters is mine.
But secretly, between you and me, I still care about everybody else's opinion. I think that secretly we all do.
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Hi there, I'm Amy. I'm so glad you're here. I'm a writer, photographer, mom, wife, and highly sensitive introvert, just trying my best to show up fully for myself, my family, and my life. It all gets a little crazy sometimes, and it helps to have a place to connect honestly about what's really going on. This is my place.