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Pulling off my Armor, Finding Power in my Fear.

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I must have been a psychologist in a former life.  My need to break things down and figure out the why… I always felt I was a bit crazy until I read Tim Ferriss’ new book and realized my tendency to “deconstruct” had a name and a purpose.  So it made sense I’d want to write about my fear of blogging… As my friend Zack would say, it’s very meta of me.

Two weeks ago, I spent ten soul-opening days at The Bold Academy (a life accelerator for personal growth), to work on myself to discover my “next” and find the answer to that inner feeling of seeking.  Little did I know the experience would run much deeper (hopefully a future post) than a bit of enlightenment, but really served to break me open.  It’s as if I showed up wearing ski attire and stood up at the end completely naked.

The procrastination and all the reasons why I hadn’t/didn’t/couldn’t blog did not stand up to my new inspiring community who was pushing me forward to launch my writing.  This was an opportunity to discover, to share, to create… The thing I had been looking for.  It sounded so easy.

I got home and then I froze.

It was me, alone, a blank screen and a torrential downpour of thoughts in my head.  Included…Doubts, negative self-talk, and my deep fears of what others would possibly think once I disrobed my emotional wardrobe and shared the intimate parts of myself I had so carefully kept in darkness.  I found insecurities in that deep dark place I didn’t want to talk about.  I feared, once I pull the steel cover off and allow people into the depths of who I am, will they still love and respect me?  Am I as good as I think I am?  Will they like it?  Will they like me?  Whoah.

I turned to use my old faithful friend, my left brain, to logic myself through it.   Jean, people blog all the time, every day, like it’s no thing… What’s the big deal?  What are you scared to reveal?  What is that you’re really afraid of?

I began to question these fears, their roots, and how they have impacted other areas of my life.  Fear of the “I’m not good enough voice” that stifles us to inaction because, after all, isn’t it easier to do nothing than to be criticized?  Fear of putting something out in the world that I’m proud of, to have it rejected and let that question myself and my abilities.  Fear of vulnerability… Loss of control of the carefully crafted image I so badly want everyone to identify me with.

At some point you decide that what you’re meant to be and create is greater than the fear that’s holding you back. 

My arm was weary of the mask I was holding to the daily masquerade party.  Armor is exhausting.

To share my revelations in hopes to connect with others who have felt the same is exactly why I decided to be a writer…And so here I share.

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Focus only on the next “step”

When I started running (and I had never been a runner!), the hardest part was just standing up.  I would contemplate guiltily in bed, until I finally picked myself up and just put one shoe on.  I kept focused on the next step, not the actual running part.  In fact, getting too far ahead of myself or thinking about the cold or the hills or my lungs burning… That would only send me back to bed.  The surprising part always was once I got moving, I got motivated… The compromise to get up and just walk turned into a “let’s run.”  Motion creates emotion.  Three miles later, I felt complete achievement and exhilaration.  This feeling is what makes me do it over again.  I now crave that.

Everything great had to start with “starting”.  Unrefined, sometimes completely off-base, awkward…But until we put that first foot forward, we’ll never even give ourselves a chance to ever know what is possible.

As wildly uncomfortable as it felt to put myself out there, it was infinitely worse to sit in what might be or could have been.  When you see that thing you’re afraid to do and then you do it…that feeling, it’s electrifying.

Suddenly there’s a day you wake up and you realize… You got better.  You get the hang of it.  This feels good.  The voice that says “you can” and “you are good enough”  begins to muffle the whispers of doubts.  Knowing this place exists makes the hard part worth working through.  What I am embracing most is the journey of this process, who I am becoming through it and finding my inner voice.

Maybe the doubts don’t ever completely stop… The critics will always be there.  The question is whether that is going to stop us or instead act as fuel to drive us forward.  My inner rebel uses that doubt as a gate I’m more determined to break into.

 

The pursuit of perfection is paralyzing. 

When I stopped to examine it all, I realized I didn’t expect perfection from others.  Many of the best things I’ve admired, whether it be writing, art, whatever… The beauty was its rawness, its realness, its imperfection.  Why was I so hell-bent on making sure it was perfect from myself?

Here was my worst thought:  If it was clear I was doing it to myself, was I projecting that I expected that from others, not allowing them to feel like their true selves around me?  If that was the case, to spill out and be uncomfortably me was something I had to do, as terrifying as it felt.  I kind of want to bury my head in a pillow right now.  I’m really only halfway joking, but seriously… If there’s anything that rang loudly to me at The Bold Academy, it was that having my perfectly-packaged guard up was never allowing people to really see me.

In letting people see my weakness, my vulnerabilities, my fears, I would make people feel like they were free to be true to themselves around me.  It is at that point that connection happens on the deepest levels.

Imperfection motivates authenticity.  Imperfection is liberation.

 

People are rooting for you… They want you to win.

Asking for help has been my kryptonite.  Not wanting to bother people, seeming inept because I didn’t know it myself… The risk is what kept me from stepping forward and raising my hand.  The unfortunate part was bumbling around in the dark, feeling my way around didn’t allow the answers that wanted to find their way to me.  The dark is quite a lonesome place.

I’m the type of person that sends a scary email and hits “send” before I can second-think it.  That is how I pretend to be vulnerable.   Much like you jump in the river so you don’t psych yourself out about the cold water, I knew I had to leap before I had a chance to panic.

I closed my eyes…and reached out… for help.  It felt like my heart was in my throat.  In hindsight, I don’t know what I expected, but one by one with open arms, people willingly stood up.  There was support, there was encouragement, there was acceptance.   Overwhelmed and humbled, it was then that I stopped feeling alone.  Whatever idea I had that convinced me I was a nuisance or incapable was simply a story I told myself… And wrongly believed.

A cool thing began to happen.  People began opening up to me, sharing their failures, their fears.  I really wasn’t alone.  I was connected, empowered.

When we admit to our fears and step forward for help, we are allowing others to access their gifts and share them with us.  I’m now so keenly aware and in awe of the greatness others have brought into my life and are willing to share.

Sharing ourselves with one another, that’s true intimacy.  By sharing our gifts, our stories, our passions, we are creating an intimate window to our souls and displaying the world in a way only we have seen it.  If all of us are a literal re-mix of all of us, then my contribution really does matter.  We all have a story to tell.

Our community is full of cheerleaders.  They want us to win.

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Before any important thing, we can be scared, hesitant, but we do it.  We push past to do it because that rush that flows through our bodies is an unexplainable charge that makes us feel alive.

The fear we feel contains an answer–It reveals what matters to us…If we lean in and hear it.  In this way, I’m learning to love my fear and pay attention to what it’s saying.

It’s as if there’s a lighted airport runway that is directing us home to our truth… If we’ll listen.

Thus, I have now done the thing, taken the first step and launched my blog.  I’m learning to feel comfortable naked.

 

Thank you to Bold and Amber Rae for giving me the courage (and the kick!) to strip down and speak.
Thank you to Nate & Jeremy for the best hugs on earth and their amazing prompts to speak in my real voice.
Thank you to Dave for the encouragement to throw all my Legos on the floor and start building.

And mostly, thank you for reading as I find my voice to be unapologetically me.  My wish is for you to examine your own armor and shed it alongside me.

19 Comments

  1. Yay, Jean! You did it! Thank you for sharing your fears and bravely taking that step forward. Breathe easy and be proud of what you’ve done.

    Xoxo

  2. You def have somebody rooting for you on the East Coast here 🙂

    Great job starting your blog Jean – uber happy for you. Can’t wait to hear more about your Bold Academy experience!

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