I used to be a Bad Ass. Seriously, it seems like whenever I used to have a major fear about something, I would just haul up an enormous amount of chutzpah and blaze right through it.
I remember being 16 and having moved to Santa Barbara for the year with my family. There I was in a new school, with no friends, and no idea how this new place worked. The day that stands out in my mind was the one when I screwed up my courage, and with my heart practically beating OUT of my chest in panic, walked through a packed band room, through the stares and whispers, right to the handsome young band director and told him why he might want to have me on his drill team. I didn’t even know if these people HAD a drill team or would even know what I was talking about! It turned out they were just starting one up and an import from a top Midwestern drill squad was exactly what they were looking for. Being an integral part of that new squad positively shaped my entire year in Santa Barbara and gave me friendships that stand to this day.
Flash forward 10 years and I remember sitting in my office one day post college, wondering what to do with my future, when I got a strong intuition that I needed to go to NYC. Now we are talking here about a small-town girl who went to a tiny college and had settled in an even smaller town. NYC was like “HUH?”. My parents softly suggested “Dear, maybe you should start with Boston?” Yet, the intuition was so strong that I remember picking up the phone, mouth so dry I almost couldn’t speak, and calling the registrar at a NYC grad school I was in no way qualified to attend. When she told me they couldn’t accept me because I didn’t have strong enough Hebrew, I went all by myself to Israel to learn. When I arrived back in NY and enrolled in this MA program that was still way above my abilities, I remember being so freaked out I could barely leave the apartment. My roommate let me live as a shut-in for 2 days before she gently pushed me through the front door and bid me “don’t come back until you have bought groceries!” From that terrifying day on, agoraphobics have had my undying respect.
I remember an awful lot of fear-conquering during those NYC years. I stress-cried outside of dance studios working up the courage to walk through the doors. I forced myself to drive all over NY despite enormous amounts of panic (Have you driven in NYC lately??) I finagled my way into jobs, internships, and dates solely by virtue of the immense set of cajones I was throwing around. One surprising day, I even asked my then boyfriend to marry me! Yup, I asked him, and then I quite possibly had a heart attack or stroke or something because I literally remember nothing at all of the rest of that day. Apparently he said yes because we’ll be celebrating our 19th anniversary this summer.
I have boldly pushed my way through grad school (twice), opening a business (twice), public speaking gigs, private chefing gigs, auditioning and performing with dance companies, racing in first Half Marathons and then a Full Marathon (one of the scariest things I have ever done!), and embarking on the amazingly brave journey of uprooting my family from a life of comfort in the US to one of total unknown uncertainty in Israel!
If I am painting the picture of someone who maybe suffers from some mild anxiety disorders but has worked super hard to never let the fear stop her, then good because that is how I think of myself.
But… (sigh, why does there always have to be a but?)
But sometimes I get thrown. Some failures have unhorsed me so severely it was years before I could climb back into the Fearless Saddle. Other times, it is not a failure that unseated me but just lack of inertia after a vacation or a period of stagnancy.
This last time, I don’t know what triggered it but for the past few months I have felt firmly and stick-ily stuck behind a Wall of Fear and I am not happy here.
This tremendous fear and anxiety that keeps me hiding feels like sucking quicksand. In order to not drown in this morass of “safety” I am currently stuck two-feet in, I am going to have to do some things that are quite honestly scaring the pants off of me. (Update: Since I wrote this post last week, and was then ironically too fearful to publish it, I have now accomplished the number one heart-stopping terror that was at the top of my list. It didn’t go great, but I got through it. Yay and phew!)
When I am spending too much time in Stuckville and Panictown, I miss that daring Emily girl with the giant cajones, who could walk through a ring of fire because she wanted what was on the other side. I do not much like this current Emily, who safely settles for OK when it’s not really OK at all.
So, I’m committed to bringing Bold back in 2014. But I also wanted you to know how terribly scared I am. You will see me offering new programs and changing things around and maybe it will look all Cool Cucumber, but I want you to know it is anything but. It is me here, behind the scenes, crying, puking, fainting, heart palpitating, head down between my knees, cold sweat covered, taking step by terrifying step.
I wanted you to know the back story for two reasons: Firstly because it will hopefully inspire someone else who is stuck behind fear and anxiety. Secondly, because I have a favor to ask of you. I would really, really like to have your support, your encouragement, and your good thoughts. I know the image I project is strong and together. But before you read this, maybe you didn’t realize how hard I have to work at it. I know I cannot control what mud people feel like slinging my way. I choose to be out there doing my thing in public, I get that. But seriously, before you throw harsh words, at ANYONE, just please stop to remember that your target is probably as self-conscious and vulnerable as you are, even if she seems like Miss Know-it-All. Thankyouinadvance.
Anyone else out there tired of being paralyzed by fear? Maybe we could put a “Fork the Fear” group together on Facebook or something? We could come clean with the things we are afraid of and procrastinating on and encourage one another along. Would anyone be interested in that? If yes, comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Instead of running from the fear, how bout we run headlong into it, arms wide open, heart pounding wildly, knowing that the worst thing that could happen, actually, is staying locked behind our own iron doors.