Tag Archives: fear

What I Didn’t Say

I really enjoy writing—it’s a passion of mine: my creativity, my art and my release. Generally the topics I write about are inspired by some of the work I’ve done, and continue to do, in my life. Several people have been encouraging me to get deeper and to really delve into what I write about and I have been trying to do that. Sometimes I think I do a pretty good job. Other times I try and miss the mark, either because I’m wanting to post and not quite ready, or because a post topic hits a little too close to home and I clam up.

I feel I should go back to my last post to expand upon it. I chickened out, frankly, and left quite a lot unsaid.

What I didn’t say, is that this concept of changing relationships has been a really hard thing for me to manage in my life. It’s almost like the roller coaster of weight management. It feels so good when you’re losing, but gaining doesn’t feel so great and even maintaining is a frustration at times. It has almost been similar for me with relationships. Establishing a new relationship feels good. When it deepens it feels great, though can feel scary as well. When the relationship changes, or ends, it doesn’t feel good. A part of me often feels rejected even if the change has nothing to do with me. Then I seek solace with my friends Ben and Jerry, but that’s another post..

I have wanted to work on this, especially as I haven’t always handled it well. That’s an understatement, though I think, and I hope, I’ve gotten better with it. I have been working a lot on communication, both sharing how I am feeling and being open to the feelings of others when shared. It’s a learning process for sure, and while I’m proud of where I’m at now, I still have those “facepalm” moments where I want to bow my head and just smack my forehead with my palm.

I also really struggle when other people choose to not share their feelings and I have a tendency to take things personally. Growing up in an abusive home, I developed a strong antenna: I learned to sense the vibe in the house around me to know if I was safe. Any whiff of tension set my radar in a tizzy and I was on watch for what might come next. I look to interpret people’s actions as a way of understanding how they are feeling, and that’s often not a good indicator at all.

Fight or flight.

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11-20-09 © mikkelwilliam

What served so well to keep me safe as a child doesn’t serve me as well now, and often leads me to feel concern or panic. I assume what got my radar in a tizzy is either due to me, or going to impact me and my adrenaline kicks in. I have a tendency to take things personally, as I am interpreting actions as thoughts and feelings and reacting, instead of connecting with my adult self to think instead of feel.

Only now, twenty-five years after I left my house, am I able to ask the question, “What is going on here?” Sometimes, and it’s a real effort to do. I have to work through the panic that bubbles up in my chest, wrestle with it to reduce it to a level where I am capable of stepping outside of the fear and the trauma and be in the moment to handle the current situation as the confident adult that I am learning to be.

Sometimes.. and I’m still learning. I’m grateful to my friends and family for sharing this journey with me, and for helping me on my clunky baby steps through this process of learning and growth.

Maybe I should have titled this, “How to write something that makes you feel like you’re walking down Main St. in your panties.”

Sisters

“A sister is a forever friend.” Author Unknown

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One of my oldest friends visited this past weekend. We met right after I graduated college, though she still had a couple of years to go. We’ve known each other for over twenty years—half of our lives. 

There’s something incredibly comforting having a friend, and such a close friend, for so long. We’ve had our ups and downs—times when we bickered and annoyed each other, and times when we went with long gaps between talking or seeing each other, but we’re such an integral part of each other’s lives that we always circle back.

She’s my chosen sister. 

She’s my go-to-person, and I’m hers. If I ever needed someone, she’s the person I’d call. I’m not the kind of person to reach out when I’m in that place, but I have no doubt that she’d be there as I was for her not too long ago. I dropped everything and flew out to see her two days after she asked. It was such an amazing feeling to be that person that she reached out to, and to be able to be there.

It’s also incredible to have someone who is lovingly honest. She is as direct and blunt as I am and I know what she says comes from a place of love so I don’t find it threatening. I don’t always like what I hear, but I know that she loves me and that it comes from her heart. 

I was sharing with her some of the changes going on in my life and at one point said to her, “But I’m not that person. I don’t do that—I can’t do that.” She smiled and looked at me, replying after a few moments, “Well, maybe you weren’t that person, but maybe you are now.”

Huh.

The saying about “old dogs” learning new tricks circles my brain.

I can count on one hand the people that I can truly be open with. I don’t tend to share a lot when it comes to my feelings. And even with my “inner sanctum” people, I still hold back a bit. I’ve been practicing, and trying to open up more as this is an area that I want to work on. It’s still hard—really hard. There are things that I haven’t been honest with myself until recently, and trying to find the words to express those things is really uncomfortable.

Growth is good and change is good and she’s right. Just because I wasn’t that person, doesn’t mean I can’t be now, if I want to be. I appreciate having a sister to share this journey with.

I close my eyes and feel the feeling of openness. It’s frightening. It’s exhilarating. The feeling of vulnerability courses through my body. Brene Brown would be so stinkin’ proud.

 

Back Through the Rabbit Hole

Following the World Domination Summit, I’m feeling a bit like Alice may have felt after leaving Wonderland now that I’ve landed with a ker-plunk right back into my life. Everything seems the same as it did, but it feels so different.

It’s hard to describe the conference to someone who wasn’t there—to me, it was an Imageintensely personal journey. The real magic of WDS is community: being surrounded by 2,800 like-minded people embracing change. We are all at different points in our journeys towards diverse things: some want to change the world, while others seek to change their lives. The conference is all about being embraced by a supportive community of people all feeling the unrest of maintaining the status quo in our lives. Our tribe.

ImageI had wondered if I might quit my 9-5 gig upon returning; it wouldn’t be my first time. “What’s amazing about a leap of faith is that everyone around you is so sure it’ll work out, and you’re pretty sure it won’t.” Thanks to Tess Vigeland for helping me process my feelings about that experience, and for letting me know that my fear of what is ahead, and the big doozy fear, that the best may be what I left behind me, puts me in extraordinary company. Her bravery, vulnerability and openness comforted me and I will be forever grateful to her for the experience. It was the very first time that I not only admitted my feelings to myself, but also shared them with others. What a powerful gift.

There were some incredible talks; each had beautiful pearls of wisdom to connect with. I’ll be processing my thoughts and feeling about them for some time, and will share those musings in the weeks to come. A lot of blogs posted recaps of the weekend, so I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’ll share what is top of my mind a week later, or as Nancy Duarte might say, what really resonates.

The best way to confront a fear of rejection is head-on with humor

Jia Jiang went on a ‘100 days of rejection’ quest, and asked strangers for all sorts of thing including permission to play soccer in their backyard, for $100, to drive a cop car, and to fly a plane. He quit his job 4 day before his daughter was born, and when he met with a crushing failure 4 month into his 6-month adventure to change his life, his wife told him, “I gave you six months, not four!” What a lesson to us all, to surround ourselves who people who support us.

The path to creation and success springs from the fertile ground of dreams

 Darren Rowse, creator of Problogger, shared the need to take responsibility of our future, as it’s not a place that we are going to, but a place that we are creating. He said to take time every day to dream, and notice the sparks that you create. Then follow those sparks. Share your dreams, as that creates an army of people who will help your dreams come true.

Image “The key to happiness is self-knowledge. We become too focused on how we should be that we forget who we are.” Gretchen Rubin

This amazing life that I can create is custom-made, not defined by the wants and obligations placed on me by others, but by my own unique definition of what a remarkable life can be for me.

 “What we think we want isn’t usually what makes us happy. Don’t expect your achievements to solve your problems.” Donald Miller

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We are not our failures; we are not our successes either. I’ve spent so much of my life aspiring to achieve success to prove that I’m not defined by my past, that I lost track of me in the process. I really connected with this talk and you can bet you’ll be hearing more about it in upcoming weeks.

ImageMy biggest learning is that I don’t want to do it alone. I thought that by being forcefully independent I was being strong, but I now understand that I’m keeping the joy of knowing me from others while leveraging my past hurt to protect myself. I saw vulnerability as weakness, but the presenters were so brave and vulnerable to share stories of their rejection, failure and heartbreak. And that was when I realized: vulnerability is strength. In talking with many of them after the presentations I realized they are just ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

I even decided to practice a little bit and realized that when I shared those deep dark fears that I’ve shared with no one, a big hairy spider didn’t come up to eat me. My fear seemed to float away as it lost its power. Opening myself to another person didn’t kill me, and didn’t even hurt me; it empowered me.

Wow.

So what is the World Domination Summit? I could try to define it, but that’s really missing a lot. What it is to me is the ability to step into the sun to harness its power, its energy, then to fall back to earth in the snuggly warmth of caring, supportive arms. It’s living life, and loving life, in the bonus round.

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Images credit: Armosa Studios

Checking the Closet

When I was a little girl, I was sure there was a monster living in my closet. It was safe in my room during the day as the monster was asleep, but at night, the closet door had to be completely shut or the monster would come out. My nighttime ritual was that my dad had to check inside the closet, then shut the door fully before letting me blow out the light. If the door was open even a crack, I couldn’t fall asleep.

ImageI launched my business last week, called Volto LLC. I created the concept almost three years ago and started the process of creating the business, but then I chickened out. I got scared by the ‘what ifs.’ You know, “What if I don’t succeed? What if I can’t get any clients? What if I can’t make any money and have to go back to a corporate job, embarrassed and a total failure. Everyone will know.” Instead, I took a corporate job and told myself it was the right thing to do, despite the irony.

A couple of months ago, I decided it was time to resurrect the Volto concept. The same thoughts and feelings of dissatisfaction with my corporate work experience that led me to create the business three years ago had never subsided, and the song grew louder inside of me. Freedom. When I consider my personal definition of freedom in this context, here is the list that I came up with:

I want the freedom to:

  • do work that I love
  • that offers mental challenge and creativity,
  • that ‘does good’ and helps people,
  • with people that I enjoy and respect
  • while maintaining a balance with other important needs in my life (my volunteering, travel, etc.)

My professional work at corporations gave me certain pieces of this list, but never all of them. Generally speaking, I was unable to maintain a work-life balance that I was happy with, and while I often did work that I enjoy which offered mental challenge and creativity, I often felt that it was missing “soul” in terms of helping people. My volunteering satisfied that requirement, though to fit that in to a level that felt right often meant squeezing my personal time with friends. Finding a balance that feels right has always been a challenge, so I it’s time to try something different. I’m ready.

With Volto, I will offer copywriting (strategic marketing writing) and marketing consulting, work that I have been doing in a corporate setting for years and enjoy. I will also offer career coaching, which I have been doing for friends and coworkers informally for years as well, rewriting resumes and preparing people for interviews and negotiations. This freelance business will allow me the opportunity to set a schedule that I want and work with people that I choose, helping them with their various writing and consulting needs. I will be able to decide whom I will work with, and will be able to choose the projects I will work on to ensure balance in my life. It’s my dream and will check off every item on my list.

I still have the same fears of failure, which have plagued me most of my life, leading me to follow a path of working at large corporations— what I thought I should do because it was safe and expected. But instead of sinking into the fear, I now ask myself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” My answer is that the worst thing that could happen is that I decide to not pursue this opportunity, my dream, because I’m scared, and spend the rest of my life thinking, “What if I had started that business?”

So, after taking a step back and giving it a lot of thought, my question now is “what have I got to lose?”