I’m about to start trying to get an audience for this blog, and it’s scaring the shit out of me. I’m playing all sorts of motivational tapes in my head about “feeling the fear and doing it anyway”, and some crap some motivational speaker said about how if you’re not afraid then you don’t really care about it. I don’t remember who it was, but that guy really irritated the hell out of me. I probably should have realized at the time WHY I found that sentiment so irritating. Right now, I’m experiencing several kinds of fear simultaneously: fear of judgment, fear of failure AND fear of success, a not-so-healthy dose of self-consciousness, and a wildly maniacal feeling like I’m about to hit the top part of the roller coaster right before it drops off the edge of the world. Cha-chink. Cha-chink. Slowly, slowly crawling toward the pinnacle…almoooooossstttt there…
OK, so, fear: that’s my topic for this post. It’s the topic because it’s THE thing I need to figure out right now, in this moment. Fear has been stopping me for a long, long time, and if I successfully publish this post AND share it on Facebook, I will have overcome something rather significant. I have a piddly little Facebook account with less than 40 Facebook friends. According to the Catfish TV show that means I am a freak of nature and not to be trusted. I’ve tried to get myself to share my blog on Facebook quite a few times so far, and I keep chickening out. I remind myself of my very small group of friends to try and make it less scary. “Self,” I say, “It’s not that many people, and nobody really cares anyway.”
Nobody caring would be both good and bad. On the one hand, I want this blog to reach people, maybe help them, maybe start a conversation or help someone somewhere have their own moment of clarity. So nobody caring would equal nobody sharing or reading, and therefore, my hopes would disappear into the void. BUT – if nobody cares, then I don’t have to worry about whether this is worth reading. I don’t have to care whether my words even make any sense, because it’s not about anyone else, it’s just for ME, right?
So why is it so scary? As annoying as I am finding it right now, the idea that it’s scary because I care turns out to be a lot more true than I gave that annoying guy credit for. There’s more than just caring, though. For instance, I’m definitely experiencing an irrational sense of impending humiliation. I think this is because I’ve tried quite a few different things over the years and I’m both afraid of seeming weird and flighty to the people that know that, and I’m afraid that this is just one more thing and one more time that I won’t follow through…and how humiliating would THAT be ?!?
The latest of my various endeavors was one of several brief forays into being a graphic designer. This is one I’ve tried a few times, with no more success than I had this time around. This time, I went far enough that I started a Facebook page and tried to do some work for a friend. It was excruciating because it was like a parent was MAKING me do something “that made sense”. My friend was not that parent – the parent was me (in case you hadn’t figured that out). I was trying to force myself to do something logical, something that would make money, something that I could do within my health limitations…but it was painful, because it wasn’t what I actually wanted to do.
One of my special gifts is that I can convince myself of something to the point where I’m really, really SURE about things that aren’t necessarily true. I think this is not a terribly unique gift. A lot of us have might have this gift, this ability to really believe our own fiction. For me, though, when I do that and then actually involve another person, it crushes me. I feel inordinately guilty, a guilt that is “disproportionate to the crime”, as one creepy pirate once said.
I make these bad decisions based on what I think is logical and sensical (spell check is telling me that this is not a word, but if nonsensical is a word, than why not sensical???). I decide upon work I that I CAN do and that might help me make money. So I work hard to make it matter to me and I believe myself for a short time so completely that I ignore rules I’ve put in place, like not involving other people in my manic episodes of possibility. Then, BAM…reality hits me in the face as I get more and more stressed out about a project that is NOT inherently stressful, and I have to acknowledge that, nope…this is not where my heart lies and the cost is too high. Turns out I’m really BAD at doing things I don’t really want to do and when I try it quite literally makes me sick.
For many years, now, I’ve been blaming my illness and disability for stopping me from living the life I want to live. What I’ve been failing to understand in all of that, is that it is not all about my “disability”. Sure, I have limitations to which I need to pay attention. That’s not the real problem though. The real problem was that I kept committing to the wrong stuff! I kept trying to put my energy toward someone else’s work, or someone else’s idea of what I should be doing, or my own stupid “logic”, instead of dealing with the discomfort and work involved in facing and letting go of my fears and immersing myself in my own purpose and passion. I’ve told myself so many lies over the years. Lies like “I’m not really passionate about anything”, and “I don’t really care what I do”, and worse…”I’m useless”, “I’m too sick to work”, “I can’t…”. I’ve let fear and doubt and the stress of not listening to my own voice keep me buried beneath my illness, instead of figuring out ways to do what I want in spite of it.
There have been other flavors of fear stopping me, too. Even when I was working, doing something that was aimed in the direction of my own personal passion and purpose (wow, that was a lot of p’s), I was keeping myself as small and invisible as I could while still getting enough clients to keep the doors open. As a hypnotherapist and NLP coach, I had my own business for a little over 10 years. I didn’t do any marketing other than having a web page that someone else started. I had as many clients as I wanted, so I didn’t put myself “out there”, I didn’t try to attract more attention or get bigger and better gigs. I taught a few classes, ran a few very small workshops. Secretly, though…I wanted to be “The Female Tony Robbins”. I dreamed of being on a stage in front of hundreds of people, saying things that moved and inspired them. I never tried to follow that dream, though. I never even said it aloud to anyone other than my husband, I think, and I probably whispered it even then.
Yesterday, I watched a video of a Ted talk, and I felt that dream start to flutter in my tummy again. What if? What if I COULD be that person – that person up on stage, talking about an “Idea Worth Spreading”? What would that look like? How would that feel? Can I actually IMAGINE following that dream? Of course I can, as long as I keep it quiet and hidden away and don’t tell ANYONE about it. You won’t spill the beans, will you, person who cared enough to read this far? Thank you, by the way. If you’ve gotten this far, I just want you to know that I really, really appreciate you. Yes, you – you know who you are.
I have to tell you, I’m feeling pretty excited. That dream fluttering in my belly?…It’s exhilarating and exciting and terrifying…and I haven’t felt exhilarated about anything in a really long time. Over the last 20 years, I slowly forgot something that is key to my own happiness, and that is that I am an adventurer. Instead of adventuring, though, I’ve been living a small, safe life. It’s time for me to release myself from a prison of my own making and start living as large as I can. I think it will look different this time. I hope it will. I hope I can hold on to the version of myself that is currently “in charge”. That’s some of the fear, too. Fear that the OTHER me, the one that is adept at using fear to stop my own progress, will take over again. The fear I feel now is at least in part fear of myself and my spectacular ability to get in my own way. So I’m writing this post, and I’m going to publish it now in all it’s imperfection, before I have a chance to stop myself.
Here we go. Hold on…it might be a VERY bumpy ride. Cha-chink…cha-chink…cha-chink…
OH – by the way. I hear blogs do better when people actually engage – so please feel free to leave a comment and share this. I’d love to hear about a fear that you have already overcome, or one that you’re working on right now.