I am afraid.
After last week’s breaking point, or blogging point, I have been asking myself a lot, “What are you afraid of?”
I tend to ask myself this most often when I am nervous/stressed about an upcoming event/thing/meeting/interview/job. (I realize “thing” is the vaguest of vague, but there are things and then there are things. I’m referring to the things.) I am fearful I will fail. I am fearful I will be disappointed. I am fearful I will be a disappointment. I’m fearful people won’t like me. I’m fearful that starting or going to whatever it is I’m nervous about will send me into a sleepless spiral of worry, self-doubt, and a chaotic life there I won’t be able to find peace of mind.
Fear comes from confidence…or lack thereof, IMHO (In my humble opinion). (Or the H is for honest, but I go for humble.)
Since I have not been feeling confident, naturally I am feeling fearful.
So, when I get to that point, to try to get over the fear-hump, I have been trying to ask myself, “What are you afraid of?” And all those things listed above, flicker through my mind – changing scenes depending on the day.
But what will happen if any of those things happen? Maybe nothing. Maybe I will adapt. Maybe I will have a shitty day or week, but I get into a new routine. Maybe I will accept the embarrassment or failure and grow from it.
And, what will happen if I am paralyzed by fear? Again, maybe nothing. But more likely, I won’t adapt. I will flounder. I will be anxious. And I will sure as hell not be feeling confident.
In the ten years since I’ve graduated college, I have done quite a bit and sometimes I sell myself short on that. I’ve been employed, even if not always a “dream job” or the ever-pride-cringing line of, “But I’m not using my degree” has had to be muttered as I shy away from eye-contact. I got an advanced degree in a profession that, while exhausting, was fulfilling and challenging. I got married. I’ve moved three times to vastly different geographic areas, all far (or far-ish) from family and friends. I’ve made new friends and stayed connected to many old friends. I’ve supported my husband in a career-change and pursuing a career opportunity 4 years ago we would’ve LOLed about to your face. I’ve really learned what I like about certain work environments. I’ve learned new skills in areas that I never thought I’d enjoy or be successful in and how to adapt your skills from one job to the next. Which, P.S., I think is a hallmark of what actually defines your “career”. (Read Amy Pohler’s chapter on this in her book Yes, Please. It is good stuff.) I write all this to show me that the last decade has not been void of confidence, opportunity, risk-taking, growth, or courage.
I have had one specific anecdote related to fear, lack of confidence, etc. that has surfaced many times over the last couple years when I ask myself the question of the hour. When I was 21 and 22 I had a leadership role in a huge student trip for 2 years. This required planning and organization that I was surely ill-equipped for, but yet I did it. I jumped in with out my fear-floatings weighting me down. In a way, I was naïve. Naïve to what it felt like to be living out of fear. Naïve to the way of thinking that, at 10 years older and “wiser”, can freeze my confidence in an instant. That role I held in college was a lot of work, stress, effort, and worry, but I did it. I did it. I miss that type of naïveté. Where your inner-demons haven’t taken as much hold and fear is maybe on your radar, but you don’t let it alter your course.
I do not wish to be myself 10 years ago, that version of me needed a lot of work too. I just admire that version of me who wasn’t operating out of fear. If I have a heavy hand in successfully bussing hundreds of college-aged co-eds to New Orleans over Spring Break, provide hundreds of hours of service in communities, feed them, have a night on Bourbon St., spend an afternoon in Memphis, and get everyone back to class on Monday with all fingers and toes, I can do just about anything, right?
Make some connections, feel comfortable, be confident and remember what you could do at 22.