My Quest For Magnetism

I feel so adult sometimes. Like I’m nailing it.

Kick ass, beautiful apartment in a seriously expensive, glamorous, desired city? Got it. Fully supporting myself while chasing my dreams of being a professional writer, and pursuing an education that is life changing? You already know. I’m so adult now I even have a life insurance policy, a 401k, and a healthy emergency fund savings. Okay, so I don’t have health insurance at the moment—I don’t think the government has the same dictionary as I do to look up affordable—but all in all, I feel like I’m LeBron James-ing my life, adult-wise. Swish, swish, bitch.

But when I’m alone, and when it’s quiet enough for me to hear my thoughts too loudly, when the background soundtrack of my life stops and the white noise of reality creeps in, the Self-Esteem Monster rears its ugly head and I doubt that I deserve success or what I desire for my future—the success of adulting, the victory lap around the arena on a Hunger Games chariot as flames ignite my all-leather, badass outfit.

* * *

Self-esteem is a hard thing to hold onto. Deservedness seems like wisps I’ve been reaching toward since childhood, that slip and dance through my outstretched fingers. The faster I try to clasp my hands around the wisps, the faster they dissipate. I don’t talk much about this argument in my head, this bargain with myself to believe, to grant myself permission to thrive, to deserve what I already have, what I work so hard to one day achieve, what I hope to come.

I watch people. Their body language, posture; the way they sit in their skin. Could finding self-esteem be easier for them? It sure as hell looks like it is. But I know, especially as a writer, how generalizing is a dangerous path. I can hear the red alert siren begin to blare as I find myself thinking, they’re better at this than I am. Hiding weaknesses was once a survival technique. I guess we’re all still trying to survive, same as hundreds of thousands of years ago.

* * *

Lately, I’ve been focusing on the topic of success, which for me includes money. To get to know my beliefs, I had to go back to their foundation. The source where I saw and picked up what was possible for success and prosperity as a child. My grandparents were the children of immigrants from Italy; those who risked their lives to sail to a country promising them freedom, a second chance at a future their own. A life they could steer, build, mold with their hands. Feed mouths and pay monthly bills—these were at the top of their achievements. Their children could now thrive in a land pregnant with promise.

I wasn’t raised to believe that I could get paid for doing something I loved, be successful at it, and make real money. Let me say that this was rarely ever said to me. Not one of my family members directly shut me down or shamed me for this notion. It was rather implied in the workhorse mentality of my grandparents, my grandfather who died of cancer still working, with no retirement fund. The idea was encouraged and supported when I chose a college; my grandparents and parents came to drop me off, stars in their eyes along with tears. It hadn’t occurred to them that it was possible. Beyond that love and support, they could offer no advice or direction. My grandparents and parents didn’t want to place limitations on me, but I never saw around me how it was possible to do what I love for a living, while achieving money and success. And if I couldn’t see it, how could I fathom it was possible? Perhaps it seemed selfish to the children of immigrants, but I wanted money and success to be drawn to me like a magnet for doing that which I love.

I tried jobs that supported me financially well enough, ones that I used that college degree for, but at the end of each day I felt empty, unfulfilled, utterly bored. It felt like a luxury to love a career, to look forward to doing the work every day. I felt tricked by the college I’d attended; their orientation counselors had assured me that I would be doing just that. With this degree in graphic design, you’ll be creating and designing things for companies you love. Look at this Coca-Cola ad! You’ll be creating eye-catching campaigns such as this! Yeah, that never happened. Instead I sat at a desk five days a week, hand on mouse, ass planted on a poorly supported, allegedly lumbar-attentive chair, ear buds carefully inserted, and click-click-clicked my way through each 8:30-5 day in that cubicle.

There must be more, I thought. And there was. For me it wasn’t glamorous. And it still isn’t. Not yet. This is where I gush about writing, how it has profoundly affected who I’ve become, who I’m yet to be. The part I don’t linger on is the work I’ve put in to no witness, just my words and me. This is essential to any writer, any craft. If I am willing to put the time in, why can’t writing be my lifeblood, the food that nurtures my soul and bank account?

I had no idea that all these messages were being covertly delivered to my brain, morphed into what I thought I did or didn’t deserve, and would impact my self-esteem toward success.

* * *

For the past year I’ve been working on finding my authenticity, hoping it leads me to find the rest of that deservedness toward success. Traditional therapy has always been fine for me, but I always hit a wall and wanted more. I felt like my therapist and I were simply skimming the surface when I brought up the topic of success. I needed to dig deeper, to find the root that lay beneath my ideals and doubts.

Therapy can be wonderful; I have gone and spent some helpful hours with several therapists over the years. I simply needed more. I’m just now able to connect how my subconscious kept me from accessing all of my self-esteem, in this case, toward success. More importantly, I needed tools to change my subconscious thoughts. When I finally told my last therapist I wanted more, she suggested someone on Instagram. It seemed so trivial at the time—another Insta page to follow. The page was Lacy Phillips’s, founder of tobemagnetic.com. Sure, I thought, I want to be magnetic too, whatever the hell that means.

But in time, I learned that To Be Magnetic’s philosophy is a mix of neuroscience, psychology, and therapy that adapts cognitive exercises to reprogram unhealthy learned habits of the psyche through meditation, journaling, and other exercises. These words are fancy, but Lacy walks you through this therapeutic work to explore the question we’ve all asked ourselves: Why am I like this?!

This work requires going back into my past through intense self-examination to see how I became who I am today. Step by step, Lacy gives exercises, videos, and records guided meditations to help me discern patterns I’ve made in my thought processes. Sometimes painful memories pop up, but Lacy implores me to search for their root in order to free it from the ground. Once I find out those whys, I begin to name their power over my psyche that has programmed me to think the way I do. Once named, I can begin to do the work to heal my thought processes.

This process was not a breeze for me going in. Let me stress that, loud and clear. I hated the idea of journaling and meditation before. I don’t have time for that, I thought. It’s not for me, I’d tout. As a writer of primarily fictional stories, I wanted to hide behind my fictional characters instead of journaling through my past pain. But Lacy’s work has changed so much for me.

If my self-esteem battle has been a dense jungle inside the depths of my psyche, then this work is my journey through that forest, hacking away with an axe, a machete, anything sharp enough to cut down what I once thought was canon, as I toss it behind me like I’m in the sequel to Jumanji, pitching an exasperated look to The Rock over my shoulder, as clippings of vegetation blanket the air.

I can change the way I think and usher in an era of magnetism in my life. To draw success, or whatever I desire, like a magnet to me. I’ll be on my quest hacking my way through the jungle of my inner demons, machete in hand, vegetation flying. Hopefully The Rock will be there too, if I’m lucky.

Lisa Croce lives in Los Angeles where she is currently an MFA Candidate at Antioch University. She is the Web Team Manager and a blogger for Lunch Ticket. She’s currently revising a novel and working on several short stories. You can find her on Twitter at @missguided_ink