So I have a secret. Well, it’s not a secret to those close to me but it’s a secret to many. I’m about to take on a new challenge. I am so incredibly excited but I’m also scared to death. These conflicting emotions make me want to simultaneously shout my news from the rooftops…and tell no one. Why? Well, it’s simple. I may fail.
I think most people are afraid of failure. I am confident in my strength as a person but I’m also extremely sensitive. Strong but sensitive folks like me keep their fear of failure bottled up, deep down, and we keep it quiet. We work hard to always be brave, always taking on new challenges with gusto and excitement, and we never express any self-doubt. Inside our heads though? Our busy brains are terrified. My internal self-doubt has kept me from taking on many challenges and from making some big changes in my life. This has been especially true as I have aged.
I like to think my hesitancy is because I’ve grown less impulsive, more thoughtful, and I now have three little lives depending on me. I have three sets of eyes watching me, learning from me, and emulating me. I need to be sure every new facet I add to my life will impact them in only positive ways. I can’t have a choice I make hurt them.
That’s all certainly part of my hesitation to accept new challenges but it’s not the whole story. No matter how old I get, how confident I may become, or how much experience I may have under my belt, I continue to doubt myself. Recently a friend posted the quote below and it resonated with me for days.
I spend too much time on Pinterest and I will often get lost scrolling through dozens and dozens of inspirational quotes. I see many that speak of the need to shut out the opinions of others, like this quote below.
That’s a wonderful sentiment. I wish I could say that others’ opinions do not contribute to my self-doubt. Yes, as I have aged I have certainly developed a thicker skin and I have come to understand that many people who may be in and then out of my life have opinions of me that simply do not matter. Most people will not make me feel as if I am less, unworthy, or incapable. However, my family members, my spouse, my children, my very closest friends—yes, their opinions and thoughts do matter. If I inadvertently say something hurtful or make a choice that one of those special people do not agree with, I can be crushed. Conversely, if one of those people takes a minute to offer up a word or two of encouragement, I will soar with confidence. There are others out there as well who I also seek to impress. People who inspire me and those whom I deeply respect and admire. I want them to notice my achievements and maybe admire and respect me as well. I would hate to fail and lose their respect. Is that me seeking the validation of others? I guess so. Is that such a horrible thing? I don’t think so.
So, here I am, on the verge of a big step and I’m terrified and doubtful. Why, then, did I accept this new challenge? It’s pretty simple. Because someone special presented it to me, and she told me she believed in me, and so I said yes. And that brings me back to my original thoughts. Yes, the world will always try to convince me that I’m in some way not enough. It may say I’m not kind enough, smart enough, skilled enough…pretty enough. As much as that is an unfortunate reality, I, personally, cannot shut out that world. You see, people in that very same world also tell me they love me, they are proud of me, and they believe in me. Yes, I’m strong and confident but my sensitive soul also needs nurturing and love.
I think, therefore, it’s not about living your life without looking to others for opinions, support, or validation. Rather, it’s about living your life within a community of love. A community that bolsters you when you need it, celebrates with you when you are happy, and believes in you when you are doubting. It’s about tuning out the people in the world who may seek to bring you down while focusing on those who only shine with positive energy and love. When you are surrounded by such a community those big steps are much easier to take.
So here I go. I’m taking the leap.