The other terror that scares us from self-trust is our consistency; a reverence for our past act or word, because the eyes of others have no other data for computing our orbit than our past acts, and we are loath to disappoint them. - Ralph Waldo Emerso
Emerson says: “Always do what you are afraid to do.” What is ‘too scary’ to write about? Try doing it now.
Facing one's fear, gentle readers, this is what we are consistently asked to do. Lately anyway.
This is a bit of a tough question for me. I have, for several years now, lived my life very much in the open. I've blogged about it - here and elsewhere. I've shared my scary stories. I've shared my hopes and dreams. I've let you see my disappointments and failures. I've told you what I was afraid of.
Every day I do things that terrify me. It's a good thing, I promise. It's a hard thing for sure.
Something that no one who knows me now, in my mid-thirties, truly believes is this: I am shy.
If I am in a room full of strangers, I must steel myself before I go in. I must take deep breaths and basically throw myself through the door. To speak to people I don't know takes a great deal of effort. Especially if I must speak first.
When I was in college, if I was not sure I knew someone in my class, I would wait till the last possible moment to go in.
At parties, I often stand near the food/bar/kitchen until someone approaches me.
At networking events, it's very hard for me to approach people unless I have met them before. And even then I still need to talk myself into it.
Those of you who know me from this blog.
Those of you who know me from Work It Brooklyn.
Those of you who know me from Zemoga.
You are surprised.
I seem so outgoing you will say.
I seem so confident.
I certainly, by no stretch of the imagination, seem shy.
But I am.
It's all an act, gentle readers. It's a public face I paint on when I face the world.
I am not as shy now as I was when I was young, when I would develop a debilitating stomach ache whenever I needed to be in a place I felt uncomfortable or with people I did not know well. But, I will still wait till the last moment to enter a room if I'm not sure I'll know someone. I will still linger at the kitchen door and look into my drink at a party where I do not know many people. When I hop up on stage at Work It Brooklyn events and "shhhhush" people like a kindergarten teacher, it's out of sheer necessity.
But, I am not gonna lie. I feel awesome after I do that. Because I know how hard it was for me, on the inside, to actually do it. To mak that interaction happen.
I have always been encouraged to face my fears. At 16, after crashing my parents' car, OK, actually, rolling it over and totaling my parents' car, my grandfather had me driving his truck in the fields behind his house. I've faced more personal fears, as well, leaving a terrible terrible, but seemingly secure, relationship; relocating my adult life to a new city; saying "goodbye" to someone that I loved, because, at the end of the day, it was for the best.
As for facing fears, am I going to run to Coney Island and spend a day riding the Cyclone? No. Probably not. But there are fears we face to make our lives better and more productive and to keep them moving forward... and there are fears that, really, in the grand scheme of things, don't really matter...