That’s where I am. I have this compelling feeling that I have something worthwhile to say, but I’m facing down a big fear of opening up a part of myself and showing vulnerability.
I think we can all quickly point to many times in our lives when we were vulnerable or took risks and somehow got burned. The pain of those memories can be powerful…remembering one instance where a risk didn’t pay off can keep holding us back for years if we let it. I do this all the time.
But surely there are times in my past when I took a risk and was greatly rewarded? Absolutely. I forced myself to think of three examples and it didn’t take long to come up with these when I made the effort:
- I discovered a new local gym last summer and took a chance to check it out during a grand opening open house. It required me to step outside of my comfort zone not only in meeting new people, but also in going to a place where I didn’t yet feel I belonged. Fit people and athletes go to gyms, not me, I remember thinking at the time. Turns out, it was an amazing decision to take the leap. We’ve been going to classes at that gym ever since and it’s provided the opportunity to connect with some excellent like-minded people and to continually challenge and improve myself physically.
- Some time last year I saw a Groupon deal for a tour package to China. China was never a place I thought I’d visit, but something about the good deal and the late winter stir-craziness I was experiencing at the time pushed me to book the trip. It’s not that I had never traveled overseas before, but traveling to Asia was a huge leap outside my comfort zone. Despite minor pre-trip freak outs about facing the unknown and foreign experience, I had one of the best trips of my life. Experiencing a place and a culture which is so different from my own was enlightening. I was able to see and do some incredible stuff on that trip and I’ll never forget the entire experience.
- I almost didn’t include this one because my first thought when I recalled this experience was remembering the slight negative consequence. Last summer we went white water rafting in the mountains. The rafting experience itself wasn’t that unnerving to me. I have always loved water and felt very comfortable with water and boats (thanks to mom and dad who first took me out on the water when I was 6 months old and continued through my childhood). However, the day of rafting included an opportunity to jump off a cliff (maybe 15-20 feet). Falling is my single biggest fear. But close behind is the fear of missing out, so I drew on all the courage I had and made the jump. It was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time and I felt a rush of excitement immediately afterward. That quickly disappeared when I realized I had gotten a significant quantity of water in my ears and could hardly hear. A few hours later, it had improved slightly, however my ears were still plugged with water and it turned into a painful experience requiring rushed trips to the pharmacy for pain killers and ear de-watering treatments. The experience of water-logged ears for days almost obscured the victory of facing down my biggest fear and taking a great leap. Now I can look back and enjoy the pride I feel in having done that.
These are all from the past year or so and their fresh memory is why they were the first to come to mind. But I’ve also been making an effort to push myself outside my comfort zone more and more, hence this blog renewal. I’ve been making this push because I’ve experienced that great things happen when you leave your comfort zone. This is where the big changes in life occur and it’s where the most magical experiences take place.
Opening up and sharing what I have to say is a natural progression in my efforts to step outside of the comfort zone. I need to remember the examples of great rewards I’ve reaped from taking risks in the past and let these rewards guide and push me towards making more steps towards continuous growth, change, and excitement.
The things I want to say and share are just parts of me. Anyone who would read these words and react or judge me negatively based on them is probably not someone who I want or need to have approval from anyways. Who knows….maybe someone else will end up reading these words and finding something worthwhile in them. Sharing not only helps me, but has the potential to help others too.
So, what will I do when I have something to say but am too afraid to say it? I’ll remember the great rewards that come from being brave and facing fear. I’ll remember that sharing my thoughts and experiences benefits me by allowing me to reflect and learn from myself and my experiences. And I’ll remember that those who should matter to me would never react negatively to me sharing a part of myself.