I was driving my son around to get him to nap this afternoon and contemplating what to write about for Day 1 of the inspiring @talliadeljou’s #7DaysofDiscomfort Challenge.
I was thinking about what my intention is for this week and what compelled me to (somewhat reluctantly and fearfully) say yes to participating. The thing that kept coming to mind for me was how my preoccupation with striving for relational perfectionism coupled with the fear of what people will think of me (or whether I may accidentally hurt or offend someone) so often rules my life that even the simplest decisions can feel impossible.
I rarely, if ever, initiate a gathering because I don’t want to leave anyone out.
I don’t send holiday cards, partially because I’m just simply not that organized of a human being and partially because I have no idea how to decide where the list of recipients should begin and end.
(This makes me sound popular. I’m not. I just legitimately fear ever hurting someone’s feelings, even if I only met them once five years ago but had a lovely convo with them, and I wonder if I ought to send them a card so they’re included. It’s ridiculous.)
I often don’t share things I write because, instead of anticipating the positive feedback from my biggest champions, sometimes all I can hear in my head are the imagined commentary of people who may not have liked or approved of me in the past.
After thinking about all of this, the phrase that popped into my head was, “Wow, I’m subject to a prison of my own design.”
I can sometimes feel so shackled by all of my fears or concerns around the smallest things that I opt out of them entirely.
I don’t always engage in my own life the way I would like.
I intermittently silence myself and disappear from social media (and the physical world as well) because it’s less scary than all the anxiety that comes along with actually participating in reality with other people and risking conflict or judgment.
Basically, my fear of what others will think is so strong that I often just do nothing in order to avoid potential criticism. But that’s no way to live.
And the irony in all of this is that I’m actually quite an outgoing, connective, positive person. I love people and relationships so much that they’re pretty much all I think/read/write/talk about.
But I want so badly for them to be perfect, and for *me* to be perfectly likable, that I hide myself.
And yet I also believe with every fiber of my being that the personal growth I value and desire is found within the discomfort and the imperfections of life.
I know this. I trust this.
In fact, I even kind of love this.
But it is so, so hard to live accordingly.
Every once in a while, I figuratively jump in the freezing water to overcome my fears and then run back to dry land immediately. This will kind of be one of those times, but my goal is to have this more be like an opportunity to say, “I commit to getting in the water, but I am going to do it gradually at my own pace so that I can stay in it and swim around for long enough to know I can easily get back in whenever I want.”
My intention is to sit in the discomfort of the things I may choose to post this week for long enough that they are no longer uncomfortable.
I’m so afraid of how all this will sound coming from a coach, of all people. But if 2020 has taught me anything, it’s that we aren’t guaranteed a damn thing, let alone another day of life. And I don’t want to spend another second being held back by my own self-created fears. And I certainly don’t want that to be what my son learns from me. So here we go.
I can’t predict yet what I may experience as I go through it, but I’m taking it day by day and am open to whatever lessons I may learn.
If you follow along for some or all of it, I hope it’s helpful to you in some way, too. ❤️ Thank you for reading, and I’m sending you lots of positive thoughts for the coming year!
(Side note: This picture was taken almost four years ago at an event in LA with the artwork of one of my favorite artists, Morley. The piece being projected says, “Most cages don’t even have bars.” I thought it seemed fitting for this post.
I love his work so much, and he was a super kind human. You can check out his art at @official_morley.