In my post last week I promised to talk about #ouryearoflivingbravely and what that means. So let’s unpack it a little and see what falls out. Warning, this sucker’s a long one, so grab a drink and a snack. A pair of fuzzy socks if it’s cold outside.
Also, there will be some swearing. You’ve been warned.
As I mentioned before I’ve been doing some heavy reading and heavier emotional lifting and house cleaning. Getting rid of a bunch of old, damaged, and damaging baggage that does me no good moving forward in my life.
Do you have any such baggage? Are you ready to burn it?
Here’s where we start.
“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s about going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m all gassed up and ready to hit the road. Off to find that ‘place of worthiness.’
But it’s been a tricky destination at times. My journey has been full of roadblocks and dead-end streets. Sound familiar? Sometimes I wonder who was asleep on my shift when they were handing out the maps way back when.
‘I am enough…I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.’
Kudos to you if you can say those things to yourself and really mean them. Double kudos if you can say them out loud in front of yourself, in a mirror. Because this is my struggle. And if you’re still reading this, it’s probably yours too.
A word from our sponsors. Yikes, that stung. Saying that ‘out loud’ here to people I may know, or may not, kind of a big deal. I hope it helps you in some small or big way knowing you’re not alone if you struggle with this too. If we don’t admit there’s a problem, how do we grow? Now back to our regular programming.
Okay, shit, how did we get here?
My story: nutshell version.
I’d be lying if I said self-worth and self-doubt haven’t been persistent and, at times, devastating issues for me throughout my life. They have, but they’ve really come on with a vengeance in the last few years.
Here’s why: a lifelong battle with perfectionism, proving my worth as a human by what and how well (or poorly) I do things, and an increasing lack of resilience to disappointment, both large and small.
A few years ago I decided that a decade was long enough to work in a field and an industry I didn’t much care for. I’d been incredibly fortunate in the world of post production, I had steady gigs with time off in between and almost always guaranteed work to go back to. I made a few great friends. On my union jobs I received a fairly fancy steady paycheck.
And it was killing me.
I didn’t know this so much before I left the field, but soon afterward I found out the schedule I was keeping, working at night, sometimes into late dawn and beyond, is just about the worst thing you can do to your body. Not to mention the stress of hating my job.
Everything combined took a huge physical and psychological toll on me.
So a few years ago, when my current gig was ending, and the writing had been elusive once again for quite some time, I decided not to continue in the industry, but to be brave and explore other directions in which to take my life.
It was going to be drastically different from anything I’d done before. I was starting over and officially saying out loud that I was giving up on writing.
It took me a minute to figure out what I wanted to do, but I landed squarely on personal training. I’ve always been athletic and I love
telling people what to do helping people so it seemed like it would be a good fit and a much needed change. And I’d get in great shape to boot.
As with all things, I’m whole-assed, never half-assed, so I threw myself face first into it. That’s a funny sentence, and I’m not revising it. Six months later, I came out of the NPTI program in Santa Monica the fittest and strongest me I’d ever been, certified and ready to kick ass and take names (of clients, hopefully).
At the end of the very first session of my very first official bootcamp I came home and slept for four hours straight. I couldn’t drag myself out of bed. The same thing happened each day after my early morning sessions for two weeks straight. It was not lack of sleep keeping me there.
My body was telling me I’d made the wrong choice. As soon as I decided that this was it, my first real effort at being my own boss, the moneymaker, it paralyzed me.
“Who the hell am I stepping out on my own?” “Why would anyone pay me for my services?” “I’m horrible at business and marketing.” “I don’t know what I’m doing.” “I’m not worth their money.”
In reality, I’d worked my ass off getting certified and developing a unique, fun, and entertaining bootcamp during which I offered valuable one on one advice and attention. Did I mention those two weeks were free for all participants? It was an offering to hopefully build a paying clientele from those first clients. It’s standard business procedure when you’re setting up a bootcamp.
But all the voices of my dirty little gremlins shouted in my head on that very first day, because like honey badger, they don’t give a shit. They just want to eat you up.
And I listened to them.
Let me say that again because it’s really fucking important and I don’t want you to miss it – I listened to them. I let them write my story because they’d already decided that I was a failure a long time ago.
At the end of the two weeks when I polled my group of bootcampers, inquiring if they would become a member of my class on a monthly basis (ie. ‘show me the money!’), they were kind, but basically said, ‘hell to th’nah.’ Too expensive. Money’s tight right now. Would you do it cheaper, like, ya know, free? Etc.
And that was it. My anorexic resiliency to this initial disappointment mixed with my festering, angry gremlins shut me down before I even started. In my mind I’d failed. Period. I wasn’t good enough and I would never make a living at it. Didn’t matter that I’d put forth massive effort, time, money, a bathtub of sweat, and a few tears to create this new enterprise. Just like that, it was over for me…simply because I let it be.
And, oh, the shame. It hit like a tsunami and pieces of me are still floating about somewhere out there.
Then, because I’m apparently not great at learning my lesson the first time, it happened two more times with two separate and distinctive entrepreneurial career paths. Each time I gave up on myself the wounds of the ‘unworthy’ gremlins burrowed deeper into me. The voices grew louder. And I got to a point where I not only didn’t recognize myself anymore, but I didn’t trust myself at all.
I’m still very much struggling with this lack of trust in my every day life, especially in my writing. I haven’t given it up, and I won’t. But I find it almost impossible lately to make a damn decision about anything and I think all of that stems from this massive self-doubt that has grown, like tumors, inside me for these last few years.
Time to excise those bastards. Take back the reigns. Build up resiliency. And, as Brené said, cultivate courage, compassion, and connection.
Time to be bravely me again. I’m writing my own damn story now and those bitchy little gremlins can fuck right-the-hell off. Said with love. And because yesterday was Valentine’s day, let’s have a few hearts.
♥ ♥ ♥
So what does it mean, bravery?
A lot of people mistake fearlessness for bravery, but it’s actually the opposite of being fearless.
To me, bravery is having the courage to do something especially when it scares the shit out of you. You’re not fearless, you’re most definitely afraid, but for that particular moment, you are courageous enough to overcome that fear, get all Nike, and Just Do It anyway.
Whatever ‘it’ is. There’s no place for judgment about what frightens us. My biggest fear could be your greatest thrill. We’re all walking our own paths, creating our own stories.
As I mentioned before, my first act of bravery was to post my struggle with this out loud — meaning here on my blog. My intention in doing so was not to draw attention to myself. On the contrary, being naked in front of a crowd is not my happy place, but I hope by putting myself out there, sharing my story, that I’ll be able to encourage someone else, and someone else, and someone else, to look at themselves in a new way.
To reread their own stories and see if they need to revise some parts.
We are all the author of our own story. It’s completely up to us how it plays out in the end.
Brené: “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.” Let’s own that shit and move forward.
My next act of bravery was to share my history in this post – what brought me here. Another tough one because, ‘Hello world! I’m a multi-failed entrepreneur and I suck at resilience!” is not a great message to carry around with you, but that’s part of why I’m setting it free here. So I can clean that slate and move forward into what’s next.
Because here’s what: So what I failed? So what? It happens all the time. Most entrepreneurs fail. Multiple times. Most businesses don’t see the light of five years running. Failing at something does not make me a failure as a human being.
As Liz Gilbert always says, “Onward.”
In that spirit, I’m going to create specific bravery goals for this journey and write them down because it’s important to keep track of the progress we’re making. If we’re all willy nilly and unfocused, I think it’s possible that #ouryearoflivingbravely could peter out without a peep if we’re not careful in documenting it.
So I urge you to write your own list. Whatever you feel you need to be brave about goes on it. Make no judgments. These could be things you’ve wanted to do your whole life, but something has always held you back. Or something as simple, but not easy, as speaking your truth to a friend, even if it sucks, or especially if it does. Anything you feel you’d like to be brave enough to tackle now.
Share your list with someone you trust or share it with no one and keep it as a private reminder of your dedication to your bravery. Check things off as you go. We all love checking things off lists. This is a big deal list – every check should be celebrated.
Write it down to bring it into the world.
Letting it breathe on paper in front of you gives your desires light. They’re no longer the dark, unspoken things that tear at you. You’ve given them room to move and be alive in your world. You’ve given yourself room to move into them.
And if they get impatient or unruly demanding your attention before you’re ready, you can firmly, but lovingly tell them to shut the hell up and wait their turn while you’re off being brave with the other things on the list. You’ll get to them when the time is right.
A note about things unsaid and undone — I believe the unspoken words of our hearts, and the undone deeds of our souls have the ability to shrink and veil our spirits with a near impenetrable sorrow and darkness. And often, we don’t even recognize that it’s happened because it’s just what we’re used to. Don’t get used to it.
Say those words, do those deeds, be brave and let that light inside, so you can let it out into to the world around you.
Share with us in the comments how you’d like to be braver in your life, or how you’re already braver than you thought you could be. And don’t forget to hashtag all your bravery with #ouryearoflivingbravely on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram when you share your victories and aspirations.
Next week I’m going to talk more about wholehearted living and tell you the story about what happened when I crossed #1 off my bravery list last week. Holy resiliency, Batman!
If you know someone who is struggling and you’d like to share this post with them, please feel free using the buttons down yonder. ↓
If you want my posts to land in your inbox so you won’t miss a thing, please subscribe to my blog up on the top right of this page where it says, ‘DON’T MISS A POST!’
Meantime, be well, be brave, be you.