The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond

Ep 34. Stop Asking Permission to Follow Your Dreams

October 05, 2022 Carmela Season 3 Episode 34
The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond
Ep 34. Stop Asking Permission to Follow Your Dreams
Show Notes Transcript

If you've ever asked yourself: 

  •  Do I deserve to have dreams so big? 
  • Am I good enough?
  • Am I allowed to fight for the life I want to live? 

This episode is for you.

So often we get stuck in a habit of asking permission to pursue our dreams. Of shrinking in the face of others' opinions. What if, instead, we expanded into our full creative humanity, and by extension made space for others to do the same?

This solo episode with Mela includes discussion + guided reflection questions and weekly practices to break a habit of deference and step more fully into the process of building your creative vision. 

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Dr. Carmela Muzio Dormani - aka your host, Mela - is a sociologist, dancer, and creative consultant.

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Speaker 1 (00:09):

Welcome to the millennial PhD, a podcast about creative survival and beyond. My name is Dr. Carmela Muzio Dormani, and I'm a sociologist, dancer and creative consultant from New York. In these episodes, you'll find inspiration, ideas, and actionable tips for building new pathways forward in work and life. You'll hear from artists, activists, creative entrepreneurs, PhDs, and professional pivoters. We talk about radical humanity and practical steps to follow your dreams, even in the context of challenging social conditions. Before we jump into today's episode, a quick reminder to follow the millennial PhD on Instagram and to please take a minute to rate and a review the millennial PhD on Apple podcasts. Your rating really helps the show reach as many listeners as possible. You can learn more about me and get access to free creative resources on the millennial PhD Instagram page I hope you enjoyed the episode. 

Welcome back to the millennial PhD. This is your host me, and this is episode number 34 of the show. It is October, I can't believe it. September flew by. I feel like that happens every year for a variety of reasons. Everybody kind of buckles down in September, but here we are. The fall weather in New York has arrived for sure. It's, it's pretty cold. Um, which I actually do love this transition. It's been really hot in September the last few years, so I, I love the crisp kinda October weather that we're heading into. So it's been really nice. But in any case, I know that the changing of seasons can be an adjustment for many of us. It's always a moment of transition. And I'll be honest, I had a totally different topic in mind for today's episode that was, it was fall themed. It was related to the season, but I'm feeling moved to talk about something today that I had originally planned for later episode. 

So we're gonna do that. And that topic is breaking the habit of asking for permission, and I'm talking about this in reference to kind of pursuing your dreams and your desires, whether they be personal, creative, professional, or any intersection within those. Before we get into the meat of the episode today, though, I do wanna flag something that's pretty exciting. We have an exciting anniversary coming up for the podcast in two weeks. It will be the one year anniversary of our very first full length podcast episode. So I'm pretty excited about it. I'll be flagging some of the best creative advice and inspiration that I've gotten over the course of the first year doing the show. I'll also be launching a, a few new things to celebrate, which you'll hear about in later episodes. It's been, it's been an amazing experience to talk to and connect with so many folks who have come on this show from different experiences and shared their ideas, shared their journeys, and shared these like gems of creative wisdom and inspiration. 

So two weeks from now, we celebrate that one year anniversary. Next week our, the next episode after this one is an interview based episode, and then two weeks from now we'll be having that special anniversary. Okay, so let's get into the main topic for today's episode, which is breaking the habit of asking for permission. I've had a lifelong habit of really waiting for and asking for permission for even the smallest things related to my creative dreams or the path that I was trying to build for myself. And I've heard this from so many folks that I worked with in the dance world, in the creative world more broadly in some of the consulting work that I've been doing, and even in academia as a sociologist, this question of, do I deserve to have this dream? Am I good enough? Am I allowed? And this kind of asking for permission piece has manifested probably most obviously for me with dance, um, in the sense that I always felt like I needed somebody to say, Okay, you've graduated to the next level. 

Anytime I was trying to level up as a dancer or to see myself as worthy of having certain titles or certain attributes, uh, given to me or even worthy of showing up to certain auditions, I've always had this hold back of sort of like, Well, somebody needs to tap me on the shoulder and say, Yes, you're good enough. You're able to do this. You're able to, you're allowed to, to do this and pursue the thing that you love. And it's not just with dance. I'm using that as kind of one example, but it's manifested in my life in a couple of different spaces professionally and personally. And I would imagine that for you as you're listening to this, you might be thinking about some of the places where that may have come up for you. And this has persisted until I realized for real, for real, that honestly like no one is going to chart your creative path for you. 

And everyone has their own baggage and they're carrying that. And it may or may not have anything to do with you or align with what you're doing. And even if you're lucky to, to have some wonderful friends, some great friends or supporters, or people who genuinely want the best for you, even in that case, the dream kind of has to come from you and cultivating the care for yourself and the confidence to build that and nurture that can be challenging, but super worthwhile. And I don't mean to present the story as though I've arrived at that magical place because I think it's an ongoing process, uh, but it is something that I've reflected on. And I'm gonna gonna share some reflection questions in the, the last few minutes of this episode as well. And I'll probably complete them myself, <laugh>, to continue on that journey of really trying to make space for what it means to build a path for yourself creatively. 

I do feel like this is something that I think it, it, it's, it's often in the experience of, of, of women and, uh, people who identify as fems. And if you've experienced kind of being silenced or being fearful of taking up space for any reason, whether it's related to identity or to personal pain and trauma that you've experienced, this may be something that you're holding onto as well. And it manifests differently for different people. So those roadblocks for me have, have kind of been rooted in or transformed into a habit of deference, of being like deferential, behaving deferentially to people of not wanting to take up any space of not wanting to be an inconvenience and not wanting to be a brat of not wanting to be needy. However, taking up space is an acknowledgement of your right to exist in whatever form you've come as whoever you are. 

And you have the right to be here and to be safe and to be creative. As long as you're not encroaching on someone else's right to be their full selves, you have the right to step into that space. And I'll be honest, I have always also been a little bit cautious about the, the counternarratives or the type of stuff that I'm saying right now. The idea of take up your space and don't care what other people think, because ultimately I do feel that we're trying to build a new norm of being invested in each other, of being collective, of being considerate, right? Uh, of other people's experience and lives and of your community. But one thing I've discovered over the years is that this habit of deference that I had fallen into, it actually, it winds up hurting other people as well for a few reasons. 

Because one, whenever I make myself small or dim or, you know, try to slip away off to the side or to the corner, that shows other folks that there are limitations for me, that I think there's limitations for me and my extension for them as well, right? It sets a norm of kind of shrinking into ourselves instead of setting a norm of stepping into our full creativity and our full expression of our community. And any time I have had the courage to be my full creative self or to express or to move in a way that's more liberated, it's done nothing but show other folks that they can do the same right. And clear space for that make room for, for others to step into their full creativity and their full dreams and their full potential. So that's one thing. The second thing is that stepping into that habit of being deferential or of, of asking and needing for permission from others to pursue what you really wanna go for, it's sort of, it puts an onus on other people to carry the weight of your dreams and your life, which is sort of unfair. 

And it's not just unfair to other folks. It's, it's unfair to you. You might be doing a disservice to yourself and to your own dreams and the path that you really wanna build for yourself. And that's not to say that we shouldn't reach out for support from each other because we absolutely need that, right? Some of the most important relationships in my life, they have to do with that exchange of mutual support and pursuing our goals and our dreams, or just reaching out when I'd meet someone to say, Yes, go for it. You've got this, you can do it. It's gonna turn out fine. All of that is fantastic and super critical for any type of work that you're trying to do, personal or professional. But at the same time, that's not quite the same as sitting back and saying, I can't move forward without someone saying, You're allowed to do this. 

Right? We deserve to step into our power a little bit more than that because you're the one envisioning the, the path that you'd like to build for yourself, the life that you wanna make, the values that you have, the impact that you have, and the lifestyle that you wanna create around that, as well as the support that you wanna maybe provide for your family and or your community depending on the type of work you're doing. Okay, the third thing that I would wanna say about this is that caring for ourselves lets us be able to care for others. And this has been said, uh, a thousand ways by a thousand different people. And I have to be honest, I feel like a lot of the times I've seen it or I've consumed that message and I haven't fully soaked it in and I haven't fully bought into it. 

I haven't fully believed it. But the more that I do this work and the more that I reflect on the path that I wanna build forward for myself and the impact I wanna make in my communities, the more that I feel like, yeah, absolutely. I deeply believe that the more that we can taste, get a little taste of peace and liberation from systems that teach us to be subservient and from systems that teach us to, to dominate, right, To be, to learn, to learn a version of dominance, the more that we can sustain ourselves for collective liberation, right? And I really do feel like what, whether that's basic self care or community care or relationship building or creative stretching or dancing or movement, whatever that means, taking care of our full health and our full humanity is core and critical to being able to do the sort of creative work we wanna do to be able to do the sort of of social work that we might wanna do or make the sort of social impact that we might wanna make, and to do the sort of political work that, that we might wanna go out into the world and contribute to. 

So stretching to our creative capacity with love and mindfulness at the center and care for others, it's, it's really where it's at to be able to keep going because we're still all going through a process of healing and surviving one day to the next. So stepping into our full humanity, our full creative potential I guess we could say. Um, and being able to step into the dream a little bit about building a life that we wanna see for ourselves. I do feel like that's really important because that hope is at the center of our creative work and of social and political work as well. So take care of yourself and take care of each other, because otherwise we're not gonna be able to keep going for long. Cause. I wanna pivot a little bit cuz I've been talking about me and some of my experiences. I wanna pivot into some reflection questions for you to either think about or jot down notes. If you're, if you are able to, if you have access to some pen and paper right now, or your phone, whatever, you could jot down some thoughts and response to this or just think them through. One is, are there areas of your life where you make yourself small or intentionally deferential? 

How does that feel in your body? Are you holding onto tension and resentment around that? And the inverse is, how does it feel when you let some of that go? Why are you holding on to this practice? The habit of needing to ask permission to build your own life? How do others react to you when you hold back or wait for permission to be fully yourself? And what would it look like for you to break out of this habit moving forward? How might that feel? How might it influence others? Okay. So those are some reflection questions. A couple of practices to keep in mind going forward this week as you're reflecting on this, this question in this process is, first of all, be gentle with yourself, is always number one. I'm really trying to work on this because I'm a and grind person and I can, I can be really hard on myself in terms of pushing for productivity and pushing for, uh, pushing for a work ethic and pushing for, for, for outcomes and for growth. But be gentle with yourself. I'm trying to bring some softness, softness into my life. I invite you to do the same. Another practice for this week might be to reach out to someone that you've seen pushing themselves or advocating for their dream and let them know that you see and appreciate them. Because when we pick each other up, we all win. 

Okay? Another practice moving forward for this week is to engage in a movement practice of some type this week. Okay? It could just be a, a lean and a stretch, a gentle walk, a release of the tension that you're holding your far in your forehead head, whatever it might be. I really deeply believe that movement can help root us and help us feel grounded as we move forward. And the last thing that I would ask us to consider doing, if you can make space for it this week, is to seek out spaces for growth. Okay? And for those who feel like you're not having access right now to a safe space for, for growth, maybe it can be a space that at least aspires to be saved. 

Maybe this week you can make a community linkage with someone that you don't know yet, or that you only know a little bit. And if you can't think of anybody to connect with this week, connect with me. Hit me up. Okay? Cuz I would love to hear about what you're working on and your creative journey. Okay? Like I said, I truly believe that it's important to clear space for whatever creative work, social impact or political work that you're invested in doing. So I'm gonna be going ahead and trying to take some time to, to go through those reflection questions that I mentioned a minute ago to engage in some movement this week, to be gentle with myself this week, maybe to reach out to a couple of friends and community members this week so that we can keep building each other up. 

And that's it for our episode. I'm breaking the habit of asking for permission. I hope everybody stays well this week and I'll see you next time. <affirmative>. That's it for this week's episode of the Millennial PhD. You can find more content, resources and information on Instagram at the millennial PhD in this collective moment of reevaluating our relationships with work and exploitation. I look forward to connecting with you and building stronger bonds of community and collaboration. I would love to hear from you via email at the millennial PhD with any feedback, comments, questions, or concerns, or if you're interested in coming on the show as a guest. That's all for now. It's been real. See you next time.