Today’s post contains profanity not suitable for the following audiences: my mother, people offended by profanity.
As posts about the takeaways from the Type A Conference begin to flood the blog world, there’s a lesson I learned that I want to make sure no one misses:
Kick Fear In The Teeth.
Stomp on it like the disgusting creep it is. Squash it. Don’t let it cripple you into inaction.
I remember the times in my life when nothing scared me. I wasn’t afraid to put myself out there. I wasn’t afraid to take charge of a situation. I felt at home in the spotlight. I took risks.
Metaphorically speaking, I was invincible.
And then life stuff happened. I got broken. I got depressed. I got anxious. I got scared.
You know how some people believe their own hype? That they’re just the shit and above it all?
Well, the same can happen in reverse and when it happens it really fucking sucks.
In those dark and lonely moments, I retreated into the really scary place that was my mind where I told myself I wasn’t pretty enough or smart enough or good enough or any enough and I believed it.
I stopped taking risks because I didn’t want to be disappointed. I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t want to hear the word “no.”
If you don’t play the game at all, you can’t lose the game, right?
Good things definitely happened to me despite my fears. I met Dan, and he made me laugh a lot, so I locked him down. I landed a job in the school of my choice teaching the literature that I loved most. I had two beautiful and amazing children.
When the bureaucracy of that job killed my passion for doing it, I stopped doing it to pursue writing and Dan supported me in doing that.
The one thing I knew prior to this conference is that words? I’m good at words. I know words.
But I remain afraid down to my core that my ideas aren’t good enough. That I’m just not good enough. That taking the risk and putting myself out there just isn’t worth the disappointment.
Pardon the language, again, but fuck that.
Before Type A, I saw a post asking for submissions for the We Still Blog awards. I thought meh, what the hell and threw two posts into the ring. One of them was chosen as a Finalist post for the awards.
The post? Girl (Parts) On Fire. (Please do go read that post if you haven’t, but fair warning, you will learn more than you ever wanted to know about my vagina.)
Being a finalist meant reading my post. Out loud. In front of people. My words. In my voice.
I wasn’t afraid to do it. At all. As gloriously oversharing a post as that one is, I wasn’t afraid to stand up there and read it. Public speaking isn’t a fear of mine.
But I was afraid of what people would think of me when it was done. I was afraid of hearing things like “Oh my god! Did you…can you believe…OH MY GOD. SHE TALKED ABOUT HER VAGINA!”
Ladies, we all have them. Simmer down.
Here’s where I know this was the absolute best thing I could’ve done for myself:
When I heard and saw people laughing, my fear fizzled. It was just…gone. Because the people who laughed? They were my audience. Anyone who didn’t like it? I guess I wasn’t there for them.
That’s what fear does to us. It blinds us from seeing what we need to see. Instead of shouting into any direction at all in order to reach those who need to hear what we have to say, we say nothing. We’re stifled, creatively and emotionally, because we’re afraid of what people will think.
We think we can’t do things we know we can.
This weekend I listened to speaker after speaker talk about taking risks.
Amber Naslund talked about jumping into things with both feet without having a plan in place. Gary Buchanan talked about not being afraid to explore your ideas because that’s the root of creativity. Erika Napoletano talked about using the best words instead of the right ones even when those words are scary.
It’s like they were all talking to me, and I left feeling incredibly unafraid. Or maybe just caring a little less what people think and caring more about what I know to be true.
My takeaway: Fear is feelings. Feelings mean you’re alive. Be afraid. Do it anyway.