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I've read different explanations about the messy middle. But for me, it's that place where you're struggling because where you are in your project doesn't match what you envisioned. You want to scrap the whole thing yet you've put so much work into it, that that would be a waste. You're at a crossroad.

Scott Belsky's book The Messy Middle calls it, "finding your way through the hardest and most crucial part of any bold project." Brené Brown's term for it is "the part where things get rocky, where we hit the wall... when we’re in the dark, the doors close behind us, we’re too far in to turn around and not close enough to the end to see the light.”

“Never surrender until the challenge turns you into a champion.” -Hiral Nagda

If my project was a story, it would look like this:

A vision has been set. I'm being called to a new adventure, one outside of my current comfort zone. Plans are developed. Designs are sketched and then etched into my dreams. This is the magic zone where you feel as if your path is so special and enchanting that it is undefeatable.

Creating gold with your mind.

Next, I look for every easy, comfortable, reliable path to complete the project. Because I'm human and that makes the most sense. And yet predictably, the project falls flat.

When I take a step back, I realize that truly inspired work comes from stretching my artistic boundaries, not from taking the easy route that I've consistently been taking. I can't use the same art, the same processes, the same end product and call it a day. Because the things I'm already doing gets me to the place that I'm already in. If I want the alluring dream to come to fruition, I have to step outside of my comfort zone and stretch myself farther than I've been to get to that new place.

Okay, so lesson learned. I need to strip everything down, be brave, be messy, be vulnerable.

But here’s the thing: as Brené says, “The middle is messy, but it’s also where all the magic happens, all the tension that creates goodness and learning.” I may have to learn new things, test out new processes, try and fail a hundred times. But along with this messiness, I am creating something new and wonderful. And it builds a new confidence within me.

The end product will be a labor of love. Others may take a look and think, "oh, I could do that." I know because I have thought that about other people's work. (I told you that you'd get honesty here...) And it's easy to say that when you see an end product and you can deconstruct their process. But unless you've dreamed up a project in your own heart, worked through the messy, what feels like an exhaustive never-ending middle, and come out the other side- then we aren't in the same place. Having gone through this myself, I have such awe and respect for other artists' work. We are seeing their end game. We aren't witnessing how many iterations got them to this point.

"It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform" -Roy T. Bennett

I'm praying you find comfort and guiding inspiration on your messy middle with whatever you're working through.

Warmest regards,


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