May Your Choices Reflect your Hopes, Not Your Fears
– Nelson Mandela
I got an email recently from a reader who is thinking about starting a blog and asked me a few questions. Two of them were far too deep to put in an email for just her so I decided to bring them here. The questions were:
How did you overcome that fear [of starting a blog/business]?!
How did you become successful and what all did you have to do?
Her questions reminded me of another question I get A LOT which is: how did you get over your fear of having a baby? In response to a couple of posts I wrote a couple of years ago on why I was scared of pregnancy and why I was afraid to have kids.
These questions about getting over my fears always remind me of the Nelson Mandela quote, “may your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.”
So I guess, let’s first start with fear.
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What is fear?
It’s a topic I’ve covered extensively on TCM. It’s a topic near and dear to my heart because for most of my life, I made choices out of fear. There are a ton of acronyms to define fear. I have two that always float through my head when I hear the word though:
You see, fear is clever like that. It’s our hopes and dreams wrapped in limiting beliefs. Constantly delivering tiny messages and jokes that we only realize if we are willing to face it and walk through it. When I lived my life in fear is when I was at my worst. I struggled with disordered eating, abusing alcohol, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. Every choice I made was out of fear and pushed me further and further into the depths of my pain.
It was this vicious cycle.
I was afraid to take a risk and put myself out there, so I hid out of fear, only for that choice to lead to more reasons that I’d have to stay hidden. I felt like I couldn’t choose the things that would fill up my cup with hope and my wants and dreams. As a result, I became a walking self fulfilling prophecy of everything I didn’t want to happen in my life and things got pretty bad.
Back then, I thought the only way to grow and learn a lesson in life was through pain. So eventually the pain of living in fear got great enough that I made a change. If you caught the post on “rejection is just redirection” you saw how fear kept me in my 9-5, only for me to get fired twice in a month. When I took my first step toward my hopeful dreams of being an entrepreneur, you saw how I was still making choices out of fear of really letting the world see who I was in “stay in your own lane.”
So to answer this reader’s question on how I overcame the fear – well it was a slow, tedious process of one step forward, three steps back. A process that challenged me to look at all my flaws, character defects, insecurities, and shortcomings and finally take ownership of them. If I wanted to make my hopes and dreams come true, I had to make choices that would finally support my hopes and dreams of coming true instead of choices that played into my fear.
I want to break into 2 examples here based off the questions posed earlier.
First, the the fear of entering into motherhood, then the fear of starting a blog.
Fear around motherhood:
So with overcoming my fear of motherhood, it was slow. My hope and dream was always to be a mom. I could never imagine myself NOT being a mom in my lifetime. With that said, the fears were strong and all over the place. At a certain point, I made choices based on the hope of becoming a mother. I chose to read books, do meditations, and talk with my husband until I was blue in the face. By getting really clear and intimate with those fears, I was able to see other realities.
At some point, I got to the place of knowing that however things would unfold were exactly what they were supposed to be and I could let that destiny unfold through a fear-based anxious lense, or I could trust that there was a plan, that this baby chose me to be her mama for a reason, my body knew exactly what to do, and move through this unknown phase with dignity and grace. I realized, by looking back on past hardships and unknowns in my life, that life is going to happen no matter what, and the only thing I can is choose how to respond to it so I started choosing hope instead of fear.
That has stuck with me through pregnancy to today and a large part of why I think motherhood has been such a good transition for me – and that’s not to say I haven’t had my “WTF” moments, but they are just that, moments, not constant realities.
Fear around the blog:
Now onto the blog. The choice to start my blog was purely emotional. I had a moment of clarity about sharing part of my truth on the internet. It was a rare moment I didn’t think or overthink, I just did. Fortunately, once we are on the right path, the Universe has a funny way of showing us some positive reinforcement. I got a positive response from my Twitter family back then and on a superficial level, the blog numbers reflected I was on the right path.
Still, when we make a choice to take action towards our hopes and dreams, the Universe will throw us some ugly curveballs sometimes. Fear will rear its ugly head. Over the first few years of starting my blog, I’ve gotten hate emails and comments, judgments, slander, people misinterpreting what I’m saying for the worse, and all the things you can imagine that come with an online business. Things that would cause most people living in fear to say, “See! I’m not supposed to do this, I should keep playing small, I’m not worthy of taking up this space!”
However, because I choose to see hope and love in all situations, when those comments and trolls roll in today, I see people in pain. I see people who have gifts to share with the world but are living too deeply rooted in fear to do so themselves. On a deep level, I believe these trolls are attracted to me because they see something in me that is deep within themselves that they haven’t embraced yet. I’m a weird, maybe even sinister if that’s the right word? beacon of hope for what’s possible for them.
To whoever is rolling their eyes:
And I know someone reading that right now is probably rolling their eyes and thinking to themselves, “Man, this girl is full of herself! How much of a narcissist must she be to think she’s that self actualized and important? Those people just hate her because she sucks and she’s over here thinking she can save them all and is a beacon of hope?! Get out of here!!”
Trust me, I get it, and I know, because I used to be that person thinking all of those thoughts when I’d see people in the public eye speaking up and saying those things. It wasn’t until I got enough time and space between my pain and fear and my hopes and dreams that I realized those people may not be as full of crap as I thought. Yes, they may be a little full of themselves, but so what? As someone who struggled for most of my life with feeling not good enough or worthy enough, I sure as hell am going to sing my confidences as loud as I can today.
Total side note but a note on our society and fear:
Guilty pleasure, I watch the Bachelor franchise. This past season of Bachelor In Paradise a lot of the cast members kept saying, “I deserve love” and were tore to shreds on the internet. People said that these people were self involved and asked things like, “what makes this person so special that they think they deserve love?” I think the same kind of commentary happens when people celebrate their wins, confidence, and pride. Like boastfulness is a bad thing? In a society where so many people are feeling empty and less than, why shouldn’t we be a bit boastful in how far we’ve come?
Part of me overcoming fear has to do with the fact that I stopped worrying about what everyone would do and say. I realized that in order for my hopes and dreams to come true, I’d have to become boastful. I’d have to talk about the depths of pain I was in and how far I’ve come – and that I’m PROUD of it. Heck, if I’m not my biggest cheerleader, than how can I expect ANYONE to cheerlead for me? I mean we all talk about how if we don’t love ourselves, how can we expect others to love us? Why is it any different when it comes to our worthiness? And in order to decide we are worthy and own it, we have to admit our pride in ourselves.
So how did I become successful and what all did I have to do?
Well, since this isn’t a blog consulting session – which FYI, I offer blog consulting if you are thinking about starting a blog or want to take your blog to the next level! Learn more here! – I’m going to keep this broad and general. First, I redefined my definition of success which you can read about here. For me, today I can wholeheartedly say I feel successful because success to me is freedom and flexibility. I have spent over a year now being the not just the breadwinner, but the sole provider for our family, while I was pregnant, delivering a baby, and getting through the newborn phase through now. The money isn’t what has made me successful though. It’s been the fact that I can provide for my family, while working from home, spending time being a mom, in a great relationship with not only my husband, but also myself.
By my old traditional definition of success based off of metrics and accolades, I’m not. I thought by now I’d have at least one book published and that I’d be earning twice as much. But when I honed in on what success meant to me, I focused on making choices that supported the dream and realized it was far more attainable than I realized.
Tangible tips for success:
With that said, since I’m sure with the second part of the Q (what all did I have to do) you probably want a little SOMETHING that’s tangible, I’ll say this:
– read the post on redefining success. Go through the exercise and come up with your own
– I got intimate with the idea of work-life balance (I even wrote over 60 articles for Forbes on it one year). I came up with my own definitely for that too. In doing so, I realized that work-life balance isn’t a unicorn, it’s just a dance of keeping your cups full, not an equal division of time. For me, that has meant working 16 hour days many a time – not because I’ve HAD to, but because I’ve WANTED to.
– Lastly, and you probably should’ve seen this coming by the title, I continue to make choices out of hope and not fear.
Hope that someday I will publish that book. Not fear that someone else will publish a book on the topic before me.
Hope and faith that if I keep making choices that light me up, someday I will double my income. Not choices out of fear that if I don’t do all these miserable and mundane tasks to keep up with all the others I won’t reach some number I’ve deemed as “enough” in my head.
Hope that someday my daughter will see that work and fun and balance are one in the same because she watched my joy in doing what I do; not fear of missing out on every little milestone and teaching her that work is something we should resent or feel guilty about because it means we are missing out on other areas of our life.