I'm having a big week this week: I have taken the first steps towards two big new projects that I've been incubating in my mind for the past few months. Both are small steps down a path that I've felt called to walk. Both will require that I put myself out there in ways that I've never done before.
And once again, I'm faced with the gut-wrenching fear of jumping into the unknown that I've become more and more familiar with over the last year. And while whenever it pops up I greet it like an old friend, it is just as scary each time it pays me a visit as it was the first time.
Oddly enough, with all of the ways that I’ve boldly gone into the unknowns of my life, this is a rather new feeling for me. Going away to boarding school – as much as it felt like total liberation – felt as natural as going to any other school on the first day. Or moving to New York after college at the beginning of the Great Recession with no job and my entire life’s savings, and then later moving from NYC to Los Angeles in pursuit of better work opportunities was just something I had to do to move forward in my career. Changing professions – that was no problem. Even moving years later from my home in Los Angeles, newly pregnant, to be with my fiancée (now husband) in South Carolina felt just as natural as moving a few doors down the street. There was no second guessing. No nervous jitters. Definitely no cold feet. I wanted it. It needed to be done. It was time to move forward. End of discussion.
So it has become very interesting to me now that as I forge and accept new opportunities with my business that I become immediately flustered with nervous energy after making the decisions to accept both big and small opportunities that lie behind the door of Risk. What if I fail? What if I don’t sell this large inventory that I just ordered from my manufacturer? What if the audience of this Podcast or those in attendance at this event don’t like what I have to say? What if being open and honest about my life and advocating for those who have been in my shoes only opens me up to further pain? What if it negatively affects my family?
Author Elizabeth Gilbert talks a lot about fear in her recent book Big Magic - in which she explains that fear is not an emotion that will ever go away. Instead of letting fear control your thoughts and your actions, she encourages us to recognize that fear is and always will be a part of the the human experience and to accept that it will always be present. Taking her advice, I do my best to acknowledge fear when it makes itself shown, give it the due acceptance that it craves, and then move forward with what I feel called to do. In doing so I recognize that fear is along for the ride, however it is not (under any circumstances) allowed to drive!
Taking it one step further, in his book How to be Here minister/author/speaker Rob Bell writes that this kind of fear - the one that shows up when we're about to step outside our comfort zones and really put ourselves out there - is one that we should seek out. To paraphrase, this kind of fear is what reminds us that we are alive and present in our lives; if we are not faced with these types of gut-wrenching butterflies regularly, he argues, then we are not fully alive.
Whoa. Well, at least I know I'm really living!
So after processing all of my fears and anxieties, studying them from every possible angle, I've come to realize that the only thing more scary than what I’m about to do - is to not do it at all. So I have to begin. One step at a time, one deep breath at a time, on meeting at a time, one social media post at a time, one blog post at a time, one speaking engagement at a time. Taking each step, even with a tremor of fear, I know will gradually escort me down the path that I know I must travel to fulfill what it is that I was put on this Earth to do.
So to conclude, I leave you with a little saying (author unknown) that has been my mantra as I go boldly into this next phase of my life. May it also speak to you, whatever it is that you must start, and meet you where you are now in your journey.
“Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling. But start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just… Start.”
Grace and peace, friends.