Many of us live very neatly within the boundaries of what we consider ourselves capable of at any given point. This means, we stick to activities that we already know that we can be successful in, drawing our expertise and authority around us, and existing within the comfortable context of lived experience and perceived strengths.
I am no different.
I am a creature of habit, holding close to situations and contexts that have served me well in the past, hedging my talents, and doing well. But what happens if you want to kick ass? What happens if you want to exceed your wildest expectations?
What IF: We threw all the old rules out the window?
For the majority of my life, I was a very careful person. I excelled in many ways, and flat out refused to take risks where there was a possibility of failure. I kept myself safe, first and foremost, and I avoided failure like the plague. Now, this served me well, for a time. I considered myself a successful person. I did a good job whenever possible.
But mostly? I was holding my breath.
When you do not permit yourself to unlimited dreaming, think outside the box, or challenge your own status quo, you are denying yourself the chance to grow exponentially.
The problem? It is really effing terrifying to try new things. It elicits these kinds of thoughts:
What if I fail? What if my weaknesses and limitations are exposed? What if I become vulnerable to scrutiny? What if my ideas suck? What if I find out that I am really not as fantastic as I think I am? What if my creation tanks? What if no one thinks I’m cool? What if I’m all alone in thinking this is a good idea? What if it’s stupid? What if I can’t convince them?
What if I allow this project to define me?
photo by leonelponce
This is your fear talking. This is the voice that is keeping you nicely tied up within the boundaries of what you perceive as possible for yourself. I want to give this fear the boot. Permanently.
Instead, I challenge you to dwell in the realm of possibility. I want to give you the permission to think of the biggest, scariest, wildest, most intimidating idea that you have, and make it happen. I want you to be brave. I want you to believe in yourself, the way I believe in you, the way the people who love you believe in you.
I want you to reinvent the wheel, move mountains, and dream BIG, because you are worth it. I want you to take on projects that are so terrifying, dredging up all of your worst nightmares and looking them in the eye.
I want to you bring yourself face to face with the worst case scenario, so that you can eliminate the fear that is standing in your way. Is failure possible? Always. But, there is something so magical and satisfying in assessing your failure, redesigning your approach, licking your wounds, and trying again.
Lets talk about this, because I really do want to know:
What are you the most afraid to do? What do you need to overcome those fears? How are you standing in your own way?
So today, instead of allowing myself to stew in my fears, I’m going to participate in a little project wherein I just lay all of my fears out there, thereby getting them out of my head and my heart so that I can move forward.
I remember a year ago – I was just starting to look at grad schools and start the long application process. I remember feeling inadequate and unworthy, and that I was just throwing myself out on a limb only to fall and burn. I thought that I was setting myself up for disaster.
Back then, MM was a teensy tinsy blog that no one, besides some of my sweet friends, read.
And I would sit and write down everything I loved and was scared of, and each and every time, say a prayer that someday someone would care about what I had to say.
Then, slowly but surely, I got into all those programs that I applied to. I was astonished. I chose the program that made the most sense and fit my lifestyle (and relationship). I paid the deposit. I told everyone I was going. I even signed a lease on an apartment.
But I never really believed that I was going.
There is a clear pattern in my life for how I tend to deal with things that give me major anxiety – usually events that circulate around humongous change. I tend to first talk about them a lot, as if each time I say out loud, “I’m going to grad school in the fall,” it becomes a little bit more real, and I feel a little bit more courageous.
But in the days leading up to my departure, I always seem to kind of just black out. I put one foot in front of the other. I cross things off my to do lists. I pack up my belongings. I do everything as if I am on autopilot, neither excited nor frightened about the massive life change I am embarking on.
This pattern has allowed me the ability to overcome some truly amazing odds and accomplish all sorts of feats.
Before, when I allowed myself to become bogged down with insecurity and anxiety, my ability to move forward was entirely crippled. I allowed my fear to get the best of me, pinning me to the floor, and securing me there. But now, it’s not that I’ve come to embrace change, I’m definitely not the type of, “How EXCITING! An adventure! I wonder what’s going to happen next?!” kind of girl.
I don’t particularly care for adventure.
But this is a relatively exciting time for me. I am moving to a city for the first time in my life. I have my first real apartment (that C and I haven’t moved into together). I am starting a program that will allow me to pursue all of the things that I am really passionate about, and hopefully allow my to support myself (and my hypothetical family) in the future.
Also, this blog is doing just wonderfully. Seriously. And for that, I really have to thank all of you. You show up, you read the things that I write, and you provide me with love and support on a routine basis.
When I say show up, I mean persevering against all odds, stepping up to the plate when all of the odds are stacked up against you, forward motion when you see no clear path or cannot understand how something will work out.
It means waking up day after day and just winging it, on the hope and prayer that somehow, someway, the doors will open before you by the shear force of your dreaming. It means, not just sitting back and resting on your laurels, it means placing one foot in front of the other, even when you can’t see where that foot will land.
It also means dreaming big and having faith. It means believing in the inherent good in others, and love above all else. It means not giving up even when everyone tells you that there is no chance in hell that it is going to turn out in your favor.
In my relationship showing up means waking up everyday and saying “Good morning sweetheart, I love you.” For someone who has had instability and uncertainty throughout the majority of their lives [as both C and I have], this repetitive action is healing all of our wounds and reminding us that we can create our lives exactly how we want them. Showing up means, not running away when things get hard or scary or inconvenient.
It means working through each and every instance, because we are aware that our relationship is worth the struggle and aggravation of overcoming our emotional baggage. At the beginning this was scary and based on a gigantic leap of faith, but over the past two years, the leaping has been replaced by a quiet ritual of gratitude and routine – wherein we take a moment to remember how amazing it is that we found one another and how lucky we are.
Showing up means not giving up.
In my career showing up means having faith in my dreams and my ambition – no matter how many people tell me that I am insane, or that this here blog will never amount to anything, or that I should just buckle down and get a real job.
It means, believing in my ability to create something new for myself, wherein I can work and feel as though I’m working towards something good, and reap the benefits of my hard labor. It means taking risks, not knowing whether or not they will go over well, but trusting that someone, somewhere will hear what I have to say and be grateful that someone said it.
And most importantly, these days, showing up means – gearing up, moving to a new city, taking out more money than I know I can pay back, and going back to school. It means moving forward, paying security deposits and order books online, choosing classes, funding a new lifestyle with hopes and dreams when I only have $59.62 in my bank account. It means creating authentic ways to make money.
It means being MORE honest with you, no matter what, and writing it all down here.
Showing up means pulling yourself up by your bootstraps when you are terrified and feeling small and unimportant. It means digging deep and pulling through. It means sacrificing everything because you just know that something amazing is right around the next corner waiting to scoop you up and shower you with love.
What IF you rose to the challenge, battled insurmountable obstacles, and believed in yourself even when no one else does? What might you be capable of?
Now this is quite a big What If Wednesday, and represents something that I am struggling with big time right now. I am struggling – almost daily, to take myself seriously. “Taking myself seriously” means several things to me..
First it means describing what I do to people with out belittling it. This means: no air quotes around words like writer, mentor, coach, genius body image think-tank, etc. It also means striking works like kinda, sorta, well…, any words that I feel are directly matched with my inability to think about myself as a capable person that people should and do want to listen to. It means, standing tall, handing out business cards, not taking myself too seriously, giggling freely – and most importantly not allowing my nerves to impact my authenticity when I’m meeting people for the first time.
Second it means carrying this over to my online brand. [See! I wanted to use quotes around brand, because I think it’s silly that I talk about myself as a brand when I’m not all that important and no one really cares what I have to say – that is the brain process. Here is the reality: I am building a brand. It’s not a secret. I am not a total loser. Some people, somewhere care, at least a little about what I have to say.] To me this means – CAPITALIZING THE TITLES OF MY POSTS. For crying out loud. I literally drive myself crazy with this shit. I actually need to sit myself down and give myself a severe talking to, because this lowercase writing has got to stop.
When you are afraid to make waves or to really put yourself out there – you write in lowercase, you attach smiley faces to your statements because you are afraid they can’t stand alone, you speak as though you are always asking a question, begging for approval with every word.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly – having the confidence that I will be successful the tasks that I take on. Freelance magazine article? Great! I’m on it! Blog post about a really difficult topic? Dig deep! You can do this! Exhausted and don’t want to work anymore? Yep – you DESERVE a break sometimes! When you think of yourself as a professional, instead of a waitress-wineslinger-cabdriver-hoopfactoryemployee, you begin to believe that you deserve all of the things that you want. You set your own hours. You make your own rules. You don’t have to say yes to everything that comes along, even if it isn’t a good fit.
Wait. Be patient. Be calm. Be confident. There is so much magic in store – you just have to open your eyes to see it.
Need an extra dose of inspiration? I’m fairly certain that I do. Sal over at Already Pretty posted up my absolute favorite ever quote this week, and I wanted to repost it here to share it with all of you. I HIGHLY recommend printing this out and plastering it all over your house. Krikes, tattoo it on your forearm if you want to. This quote will make you a better person, and that I promise.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
How do you work to take yourself seriously? What elements are crucial to a happy work day for you? How do you balance your passions with your actual bill-paying-money-making necessities?
I am a busy girl. I am busy moving and shaking and making insane ideas become real, maniacally tweeting between slinging pizzas, pouring wine, giving tours, and spilling chowder in my Danskos. I’m so busy that I’m often working double and triple shifts, leaving my feet feeling like bloody stumps and my brain absolutely fried. I say things like, can I get y’all something to drink to start you off in my sleep.
Now, I’m so busy that more often than I’d like to admit, things like entertaining real life conversations with my amazing friends, seeing my family, shaving my legs, and doing my laundry sort of get brushed aside. I’m not proud of it. In fact I hate it, I hate that I say, I’m sorry I’m totally beat, maybe tomorrow every single day.
But the thing that I hate the most? The fact that I routinely put having sex on the back burner.
As someone who has had experiences of sexual trauma, it can sometimes take moving mountains to get me into the mood, and I often have a hard time switching gears from work to play, choosing instead to stick in work mode because it’s what gets me through the day. If I’m in work mode, I have a hard time being touched. Also, if I’m experiencing a bout of low self esteem, I have a hard time being touched. Generally speaking, I force myself through my momentary nervousness in order to get myself to the other side where I’m having a good time and feel comfortable in my skin.
But it’s starting to be a problem.
Now, I remember when I wasn’t in a relationship and long spells would pass where I just didn’t feel like becoming involved with anyone or anything or I felt like I had exhausted all my viable options or I was just plain bored. But, when you’re in a relationship things are different. First there is pressure. There are the: Why aren’t we having sex? What if he/she doesn’t think that I’m attractive anymore? Shouldn’t I want to be having more sex? Is there something wrong with me? Is my relationship doomed? questions. Talk about a low self esteem pot hole. Somehow it feels worse if there is someone right there to have sex with all the time if you wanted to and you are choosing not to.
The reality is: we do not feel sexy all the time. Period. That is ok.
But I consider myself to be a sexual person by nature. I pretty much consider orgasming to be a basic human right. But there are occasions where you just seem to fall out of sync, and then you really have to grab the proverbial bull by the horns to get your relationship back on track.
Reasons why you should have sex as frequently as possible:
FIRST and FOREMOST – it feels good! It is an amazing and important release of energy.
Having sex helps you to feel at home in your skin. I truly believe that sexual energy and positive attention and intimacy can repair a damaged body image. Conversely – when I wait too long to have sex or put it on the back burner for weeks at a time, I feel disconnected, awkward, and badly about my body, not exactly making me feel like jumping in the sack.
It cultivates intimacy and closeness with your partner, allowing you to feel loved and sexy, things that sometime you I need a little reminder of. It can repair the disconnect in your relationship if you or your partner are working a ton or have been a little distant lately.
Not having sex very often makes it more difficult to embark on. It makes it feel more like an event that you have to prepare for, rather than a natural part of your everyday [or everyweek] existence. Lets face it, planning is not-so-sexy, spontaneously throwing your partner against the wall in a fit of passion is much more exciting. When sex is an event, it requires planning and time and a spot in your calendar – these things do not make me feel like banging, but if you just making having sex on a whim part of your lifestyle, you can relieve some of the stress about the how/when/where aspects.
It relieves stress. This should probably be number one in terms of importance, especially if you are the type of person that cares a lot of stress around all the time.
So my what if wednesday post question this week is: what if I make having sex a priority? As in, make it as important to me as writing blog posts, showing up for work, or sleeping. So, this week: I will view sex as an energy builder not an energy drainer. I will have spontaneous sex on a whim and I will not feel any sort of stress or regret or need to plan. I will feel like my body IS sexy and worth loving. I will allow myself to be touched and feel safe and good. I will take the time to reconnect.
What about you? Have you ever felt this way? What are your tips/tricks for getting out of a sexual rut?