High anxiety

How are you? Tell me, I really want to know.

It’s been a tense couple of weeks and if you’re anything like me, you haven’t been sleeping well, eating well or feeling well. You (OK, I) have been spending way too much time watching--and reacting to--the latest headlines. I have to stop listening to “Breaking News” bulletins on MSNBC. Or cut back on those daily calls to my congresspersons, urging them to vote “no” on this or “yes” on that.

Actually, they’re not really my congresspeople. As a DC resident, I have no representatives so I call the committee heads or undecided members and hope they pay attention.  I have never made so many calls or sent so many emails to Capitol Hill in my life.

And you know what? It’s fun. There’s power in having your say with a “decider,” no matter how tenuous your connection is. And after the woman’s march (another new thing for me) on Jan 21, I feel as though I have to do it.

So I got over my fear of cold calling and just did it.

I also started my taxes today. In truth, I just organized the paperwork and the numbers so I could deliver a coherent financial narrative to the CPA. I’d been angsty about it since New Year’s Day, and putting it off and putting it off. But finally, I powered through my fear, pulled things together and made quite a bit of progress this afternoon. I feel so much better! 

It occurred to me that so much of our procrastination or reluctance to try new things is due to fear. Fear we’ll do it wrong. Fear we’ll be laughed it. Fear we won’t understand it and have nowhere to turn. But once you take that first step, you find it’s really not that hard after all. You can do it. And it may even be fun.

Just take a deep breath and trust your bravest { self }.


What are you so afraid of?

This past Sunday, I spent the day at a workshop led by my awesome mentor, Karen Schachter. For eight hours, 50 women explored what it means to be “brave,” to identify our true desire and find the courage to go after it. There was laughter, tears, some mildly frank language and lots of “hiving”—how Karen describes deep, limbic, healing connection.

For a newcomer to group hugs (where have I been?!), it was an extraordinary experience and it made me wonder: why do we hold ourselves back? Why do we play yes-(wo)men to others’ dreams and ambitions but say no our own?

What are we so afraid of?

Call it culture. Call it tradition. Call it upbringing. We learn early that it’s not ladylike to promote ourselves. That when we’re good at something (or many things), talking about it will make someone else feel bad (as though somehow we have control over others’ state of mind). That wanting for ourselves is wrong.

Desire denied feeds fear. Fear of disappointment, hurting others, failure. We fear our own success. We’re afraid of not being perfect, of living up to our own or others’ standards or expectations.

We get in our own way. Stuck.

Don’t go there! Get over your sweet { self } and go after your dreams. Hold on to them even when there are setbacks. Take one small step after the other and move forward. You are stronger and more worthy than you think. You can do it.

In the words of one of our greatest presidents, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.