My Next Novel: An Exploration of Being Told “You Can’t”

Words are powerful.

There will always be those who deny this. There’s a whole rhyme about it: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The Inspiration

For a while, I let what people thought about me define who I was. When you’re a teenager, you’re on this epic quest to find who you are, and often others’ opinions about you help inform that.

One baking incident in the kitchen permanently barred me from the kitchen. I began to believe I wasn’t capable of cooking or baking.

Being an artist barred me from being “smart.” “Artists are ditzy.” “Artists can’t be good at math.”

Some of the strongest lies are the ones we tell ourselves ABOUT ourselves. After I ended my soccer career, I let go of the title of “athlete” and told myself I wasn’t athletic anymore. That really hurt how I saw myself.

I also began to believe I wasn’t responsible enough. I could never live on my own and be trusted to pay rent on time or buy car insurance. I wasn’t trustworthy. I was incapable.

I began to fear failure. It’s so public, so icky. I wanted a clean image—yet this crippled me in doing some of the things I most wanted to do.

Side note, I’m very very grateful for my mom because she always encouraged me in all my creative pursuits. She was and is my biggest fan, and that’s gotten me to where I am today—metaphorically and literally!

The Exploration

In the world of my book, there are two classes of people.

The lesser class repeats a mantra every day about how they can’t accomplish anything beyond what they’ve been assigned by the government. The idea of trying doesn’t even exist to them. They are told who they are and what they do, and that is enough to keep them stunted for life.

I am incapable. I cannot, so I do not try. I have not been programmed to succeed at anything outside of my means.

If I try, I will fail every time. So I must not try.

— What Has Delphine Done, WIP by Amanda Brown

The higher class is told that they can accomplish anything; they have access to Talents, kept in jars and sold at extravagant prices.

The lesser class can never achieve anything because they don’t believe they can, and because they don’t believe they can they will never step outside of their means and learn to do the real moneymaking jobs, thus gaining enough money to buy Talents.

The Application

Dear one, what lies are you telling yourself? What lies have people told you about yourself that you’ve taken on as a false identity? At the end of the day, we are responsible for ourselves. Yes, people may fill our heads with lies…but it is within our power to refuse to believe them.

You can pivot your life at any point. You can decide you CAN cook or you CAN be a wedding planner or you CAN start dating again.

Personal Challenge

When I moved to LA two years ago, I challenged myself to do things I wasn’t good at. After all, I was in a totally new state; no one knew I “couldn’t” bake or “couldn’t” dance. I could totally reinvent myself and my capabilities!

You don’t need a crazy cross-country move to change, thankfully.

With this book in mind, I’m still actively choosing to be bold and do things I think I might fail at. Here’s a small list of the things I’ve tried over the past two years.

  • Swing dancing
  • Baking
  • Cooking
  • Hiking
  • Working out
  • Photography
  • Leading at work
  • Podcasting

If you knew you wouldn’t fail, what is something you’d start today? Thinking of that thing?

Well, dear . . . today has come. Go for it!

Published by Amanda Brown

INFP who names inanimate objects, loves to laugh, and is a proud old soul. You can often find her planning out her next crazy project, hugging books, or telling stories about her day that *may* be a little exaggerated.

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