One of my best friends and I have been discussing how terrified we are to “put ourselves out there.” I think that this is something that we all struggle with in different areas of our life.
Even from the very beginning of my existence I have avoided putting myself out there. I truly believe that I was terrified to leave the comfort and safety of my mother’s womb. I was nearly a month overdue. Even as my skin was becoming waxy from the lack of amniotic fluid and the space grew too small for my body, I resisted emerging.
My pattern continued, as a child I was painfully shy. I wouldn’t even speak in front of my grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. They probably thought I was a mute or had a learning disability, but really I was terrified of speaking up, to let my voice be heard. I would just give a barely visible nod of yes or no.
In high school it continued, I would never raise my hand in class and I walked the halls trying be invisible. I was a complete introvert until I started college. Finally, I vowed to speak up and stand up for myself. I found the courage to raise my hand and to voice my opinion, even if my voice felt small and unfamiliar. It comes as no surprise that during this time I finally decided to end an abusive relationship that I had clung to for three years. I had finally found a little shadow version of my voice. I was still terrified when I raised my hand, but I knew I needed to break out of my shell.
After college I still clung to what felt safe. Even though I had earned a degree, I stayed in a fast food job for nearly five years, because it was what I was used to. Again, I was terrified of going somewhere new and stayed at a job where I was far underpaid and under-appreciated. The cycle goes on and on.
Coming into the present, I am now pursuing my dream of teaching yoga. I did the work. I even teach several classes a week. I had to find the nerve to speak up in class and it sometimes still makes me break out in a sweat and I hear my voice cracking at times. In order to really make my dream happen I have had to grow a lot. Every time I teach a class I am standing up to that vulnerable feeling, finding my shaking voice and raising it for all to hear. On a side note, earlier this year I even performed a monologue, on stage, for the Vagina Monologues. Of course, I was terrified, but I felt incredible afterwards. The me from just five years ago, wouldn’t have believed it was even possible.
Today, I know that I need to promote myself. I need to get a little attention to let my fantasy become a reality. It’s always the same questions that plague my mind anytime I think about getting my name out there:
What if they don’t like me?
What if I’m not good enough?
Does anyone even care about my opinion?
Do I even matter?
I believe that what it comes down to is this: At the end of your time on earth, will you look back and wish you had done it? Opening up to possibilities can be terrifying. Think back to the first time you fell in love. Wasn’t it thrilling and heart wrenching at the same time? The walls that you put up to protect yourself drop away and the soft, fleshy inside of your heart is exposed. Eventually, your heart may get broken, but it heals. It’ incredible! Your heart can heal over and over again. In fact, it has an endless ability to regenerate. What keeps your heart going is that you find the strength to never give up. You must demand that you never give up on your dreams, your friends, your family, or your ability to love endlessly.
Sometimes you just need a friend to hold your hand, or to give you a swift kick, and say “you can do this. I know you can.” So, I am telling you now.
You can do this.
I can do this.