Lessons About Personal Growth

Love in the Time of Corona

Before the month of March, the words “coronavirus” and “pandemic” meant nothing to us, they were a distant problem with no real bearing on our lives. Now these words mean everything. We have quickly become consumed by social distancing, uncertainty, and one big question: when will this end? When can our lives resume some semblance of normalcy? While we have a lot of questions and even fewer answers, I have found myself pondering a different question; is it possible that quarantine, the great pause button of the world, could actually be a beautiful gift?

I’ve struggled with my emotions, as I know many people have. I’ve wavered between bouts of anxiety, of fear, of disappointment. I’ve had moments where I’ve cried and moments where I didn’t want to move from my couch. I’ve had times where I’ve looked at my fiancé as we’re entering a beautiful season of our life together, only to worry if that will ever come to be or what our world will look like in the after. As a business owner, the uncertainty adds a new dimension of worries and responsibilities. The concern for the mental, physical, and emotional well-being of your employees, as well as the fact that they are looking to you for guidance and decision-making in a time where nothing makes sense can be all too consuming. Through all of this though, I am choosing to focus on one truth; while there are so many uncomfortable things during this time, growth only comes from a place of discomfort. I can wax philosophical on all the areas of the world that are growing, but I’m choosing to talk from the lens of my own life and experience. Here are five areas that I’ve witnessed growth or an opportunity for growth during quarantine.

1) Connection: With the absence of regular date nights and time spent with friends, I’ve had to get creative and think outside of the box when it comes to staying connected with the people that matter most to me. This has included virtual happy hours, quarantine date nights at home, and video calls with family. I can’t wait until I can see my favorite humans in person again and wrap them up in a big bear hug. But what I’ve learned is that in having to be more intentional with the means, I’ve been more communicative and connected than I was pre-quarantine. It’s easy to take for granted that you’ll just see your friends at the next regularly scheduled hang out session or you can just go out to eat with your partner and call that a date. Having to spend all your free time with only one person has taught me that you have to intentionally set boundaries on “work time” and be diligent in creating special time together. Which brings me to my next point…

2) Overcommunication is Key: Adjusting to new working patterns, routines, and shared space has required new levels of communicating with my partner in order to navigate this new time. Kyle is working from home, which is an adjustment in and of itself, but we originally did not have a home office space for him in our apartment. This meant he was working from our couch, which is both uncomfortable and mentally draining. I have been working at my office, safely, but often the end of my workday and time normally spent by myself to unwind now overlaps with time that he is still in meetings and working. We are in each other’s space and we definitely have had some moments of frustration, but this has also taught me that overcommunicating your work schedule and personal needs for alone time can prevent unnecessary tension. As an introvert, I desperately need independent time to recharge. In the pre-corona days, we naturally had different work schedules and commutes, so alone time was built into my schedule and I never had to think about it. Now intentionality is required, but it has opened doors for me to learn to communicate my needs in new ways I’ve never had to before.

3) Productivity Can Mean Many Things: During my regularly scheduled programming, what I considered to be a “productive day” looked a lot different that it does right now. I would call it a week well spent if I accomplished everything I needed to during most of my work days and I was able to keep my apartment in a general state of order. But now, being productive also includes filtering out some of the content on social media and the news, investing time in self care, and yes, even sitting on the couch watching Netflix. The key concept of productivity to focus on in this season is “will this make me feel like the best version of me right now?” Don’t get me wrong, it has felt really great to finally reorganize my closet and clean out some clothes for donation. But if doing busy work just for the sake of doing it doesn’t feel like it’s filling my cup right now, then what’s the point? That’s not serving me and my mental health which is not in turn serving others who need me at my best. I also think there is a concept floating around that if you don’t have something grand and shiny to show for your time in quarantine then you were unproductive and I don’t think that’s true or fair. Because realistically, no one’s going to check to see if you actually cleaned out the closets and did the things. What does matter is if you come out of all of this happy, healthy, and feeling accomplished in a way that is meaningful to you and only you.

4) “Normal” is a Loose Definition: I’ve said it myself multiple times; “I just can’t wait to get back to normal.” This concept of normal is something worth analyzing. How many times in our lives have we experienced change and found a “new normal?” How many things have happened that have caused upheaval in such a way that there is no going back to normal? We encounter periods of our life where things change so drastically that they’ll never be the same again, yet in each of those moments, we persist. We flex our resiliency muscles. We adapt. Yes, we will come through this storm at some point. We can go back to seeing our friends and family and doing all the things we used to do. But what if this is a spring cleaning of sorts? What if this allows us to reorganize our priorities and to shed some things that have been holding us back? What relationships with people, food, alcohol, jobs, insert item here have we been giving our time to that is no longer worthy of that time? I recognize that this is an extremely challenging and drastic change from our daily lives. All of a sudden, everything feels like it’s been ripped away. But wow, what a gift to be able to take a mass inventory of myself and my life. Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean that all things from the before time are bad, but rather we now are able to gain the clarity we may not have otherwise had a chance to have.

5) Happiness Can Be Found in the Darkest of Times: Yes, I did just include a Harry Potter reference. If you know me, you know Harry Potter is my favorite series and I often revert to this quote because it is a simple, yet powerful reminder. I remember growing up, I would observe others and identify them as happy people. I thought this was an inherent quality of theirs, they were naturally gifted a happy personality. It took me until adulthood to understand that happiness is something that you can actively choose. You can work on your mindset, you can put deposits in your happiness bank, and you can contribute to this feeling daily. I’ve learned so much from personal growth work about how to generate happiness. I think corona has given us a unique lesson in choosing joy in a whole new set of circumstances. What I would have done 3 weeks ago may not apply right now, but if I can learn to be happy during this pandemic then I can learn to be happy in other difficult seasons too. With all the chaos and uncertainty and any and every other emotion we as humans are experiencing at this time, happiness can and should also be one of them. The darkness doesn’t have to settle in and stay there, because the sun always shines after the rain.

Lessons About Personal Growth

2020 Vision

In a mere 27.5 hours, the entire world will turn over the page to a new year AND a new decade. A new year always brings with it promise, hope, excitement to set new goals and the motivation to step outside our comfort zones. The New Year always inspires me to realign myself with my priorities, to get organized, and to begin to create a vision for how I want to approach the next year. With the comeback of the roaring 20s, I want to embrace the fun moniker of having “2020 Vision” and damn, do I have some big dreams for this coming year.

If you know me well, you’ll know that if you ask me what my New Years’ resolutions are, I will likely reply with some version of, “I don’t set New Years’ Resolutions.” Now please don’t be mistaken, I am not vehemently against resolutioners, I welcome people who want to set goals and try new things. I am all for people who are aiming for personal growth and I will be right here cheering you on. But I don’t believe that the calendar has to read January 1st for you to be inspired to take action towards a goal that you set for yourself. However, I do love to use this time of year to pause and reflect. I like to take note of what I’ve achieved in the year, how I have grown, and set forth with identifying my dreams for what’s to come. Because this is the ending of a decade, I want to share with you 10 things I learned during the 2010s, as well as a few things I want to carry with me into 2020.

1) Who you are at 17 will not define you for the rest of your life

It seems so silly typing these words as a 27 year old woman because it is so obviously true. I look back on the 17 year old girl who entered 2010 thinking that the biggest thing that would happen that year was graduating high school and starting college. I would FINALLY shed the dorky persona I had carried with me throughout my 12 years of school and become the cool, sexy, confident woman I was meant to be as soon as I stepped foot on my college campus. But as I entered my college years, I often struggled with still seeing myself as the timid, undesirable girl that I thought that I was as a child. It’s funny because your perception of yourself forms during these years and some people never move past it. They fail to see how much they have grown and changed because they are absolutely trapped in this short stage of their life. I am thankful for that 17 year old girl, just as much as I am thankful for the 22 year old who became the 27 year old woman writing this blog. Every single moment along the way helped shape who I am today and for the first time in my life, I can actually say that I love myself. I did not love myself at 17, but I am immensely thankful that I learned how to.

2) You are going to get your heart broken. You will find love again.

My first real boyfriend whom I met at the age of 19 broke my heart 3 and 1/2 years later at the age of 22. But from that relationship, I learned to not let myself be a doormat to be walked all over. I could and should stand up for myself and be my own advocate. The second major heartbreak came at the age of 25 when the person I thought I would spend forever with told me that our whole relationship wasn’t what I thought it was. This one taught me so much about myself that I will pour into a future post, but I learned that I am whole and complete all on my own and I am in control of my own happiness. There were smaller heartbreaks along the way, but every single one of them led me to where I am today: sitting on the couch, next to the man I love in the apartment that we share together, chasing my dream of writing all because it brings me joy. We just spent the evening walking around our apartment complex talking about our goals and dreams for the future and how we were going to chase them together. And for every heartbreak I ever experienced, I can honestly say that it was worth every single tear I shed for the beautiful moments I have now.

3) What you want to do for the rest of your life may not work out exactly how you pictured it. But it’ll turn out better than you ever imagined.

When I walked into freshman orientation at college, a counselor asked me, “What do you want to major in?” I immediately had an answer: physical therapy. “Ok. But you have to start with studying exercise physiology and then go on to get your Doctorate in Physical Therapy in grad school.” And from that moment on, I studied exercise physiology. I never changed my major during my 4 years of college, I knew exactly what I was going to do. Until my junior year of college. During this year, I experienced a pivotal point in my life and I decided that medical school was my calling. After working tirelessly to graduate with a 4.0 GPA, I failed to get the score that I needed on my MCAT exam to be accepted into medical school. In a moment, the image of who I thought I would become was shattered. I was devastated. It had all been a waste. What was I going to do now? I spent a few years pursuing a career in the fitness industry, the closest I could get to what I had actually studied. I was determined that I had not spent 4 years of my life getting this degree for nothing. Until I reached my second or third job out of college and realized I was deviating further and further from the path I had set out on, but not gaining skills that were truly applicable to building a career. Most importantly, I just wasn’t happy. I was lost and confused and had no idea what my career was going to become. Until the opportunity presented itself to return to the family business, the very future I had gone to college to avoid. And in returning to this business, I have found my true passion, my calling. It has definitely not been all rainbows and butterflies, but it has taught me so much more than I ever imagined was possible and I’m more fulfilled than I’ve ever been in any job. Did it work out the way I thought? Hell no. It’s even better.

4) Setting a timeline for your life is simply a waste of time

If you asked my freshly graduated college self what my late twenties would look like, I would have told you that I would be sitting pretty in my medical residency with an adorable husband and a couple of kids. I would have the house with the picket fence and the nice car to drive and I would be the walking embodiment of the American Dream. See number 3 about things not working out as planned, but to a further point, having some strict timeline about how your life is going to unfold is quite frankly robbing yourself of becoming who you are supposed to be. While I’m not saying that you shouldn’t have goals and things that you aspire towards, being rigidly strict about when they happen will only steal your joy. This one is really tough because, especially as a woman, society puts pressure on you to hit milestones by a certain point and if you haven’t, it makes you feel like you failed (another topic I will dive into deeper in another post because it is something I am truly passionate about). You are not a failure if you are not married at 25. You are not behind if you don’t have kids by 30. Each person is on their own path and your focus should be on your growth and becoming the best version of yourself, not on checking off boxes on your list of things to do. Because guess what, you can have all of those things and STILL not be happy. Which brings me to my next point…

5) Happiness is not a destination, it is a mindset

If you asked me during these years if I was happy, I would probably say “well, I will be when I get a boyfriend.” Or “as soon as I have my own place.” What it took me nearly 10 years to learn is that happiness is not something that is acquired because of some outside thing or accomplishment or person. I don’t mean that if you’re in a hard season of life that you can just plaster on a fake smile and pretend everything is okay and call that happiness. That’s just not being genuine and honest to the human experience. But you CAN find things to be grateful for. You can find joy in the mundane moments. You can choose to look at things more positively. And nothing or no one is responsible for your own happiness. Everything you need to be a happy person is already within you, you just have to learn how to tap into it.

6) You don’t have to have all of the answers. You do have to take action.

Most people don’t really enjoy making mistakes. No one likes to fail regularly. So I spent a lot of time in a variety of situations overthinking, researching, looking at things from every angle so that I wouldn’t take a misstep and fall flat on my face. To put it in a fun term, I was the queen of getting stuck in the “analysis paralysis.” I would think and think and think about something, but I would never actually DO anything. Damn, if I had taken a leap and just tried in a number of those situations, I would have probably accomplished so much more in this decade. Maybe that decision wouldn’t have been the right one per se, but I would have learned a hell of a lot from it. It’s not a bad idea to use common sense and put some thought behind things, but don’t get stuck there too long. Because sometimes you’re meant to take that risk, it will either turn out to be a blessing or a lesson and both of those things are valuable.

7) Friendships in your life will evolve over time. Embrace it.

Some friendships last a lifetime, from a young age all the way through your many milestones in life. These friendships are beautiful and should be cherished. But some friendships are only meant to be held close during a certain period of your life. You are a dynamic being. You are not meant to be the same person you were a few years ago, you should honestly hope that you are not. Everyone is meant to grow through the things they experience and sometimes that means that you will grow apart from people. This doesn’t mean that you have to hate them; you can love these people from afar and still hope for the best for them. Do not be afraid to choose your growth and find the people who are growing with you. You will also find that you tend to value having fewer friendships that are closer and deeper than having a million friends. Quality is better than quantity.

8) Comparison is the thief of joy

In these past 10 years, social media has become an absolute force in our society. Nothing exists if it is not on social media. There are some amazing things about this tool; we’re more connected, more inspired, and more in tune than ever before. But with it comes the green eyed monster of jealousy. It’s easy to look at social media and think that that is real life. If you are not vigilant, you will get sucked into a spiral of thinking your life is imperfect. Here’s the truth: NO ONE has a perfect life, even if you are Beyoncé. Social media is the highlight reel ,but you can’t tell from it if someone is genuinely happy. You don’t know what they look like without makeup and photoshop. All those cute romantic couples photos? Maybe their relationship doesn’t look so cute behind closed doors. If you let it, you will be consumed with comparing your behind the scenes to someone else’s front and center and you will end up missing out on all that is good in your own life. And honestly even if it feels like your life is just a beautiful mess, you should focus on the fact that it is still beautiful.

9) Life sometimes hands you things that you could never possibly imagine. But you are also stronger than you ever thought you could be.

I will only touch on this briefly here as another entire post, hell an entire blog, can ( and will at some point) be dedicated to this one item on the list. This decade, I lost both of my parents. I experienced unimaginable grief and I unfortunately walked through this grief at a young age. I didn’t know how to carry it, it was impossibly heavy. But I was faced with something that I had no control over, that I couldn’t understand. I fumbled this heavy burden many a time. It’s taken nearly 10 years since my father’s passing and this nightmare began to truly understand how to hold this grief. But in many a moment, I heard the words “I don’t know how you’re still functioning.” Well, the answer to that was always simple; you never know what you are capable of until you are faced with something so insurmountable as the death of someone you love. You’re right, until it happened, I could never imagine a life without my parents in it. And honestly there are some days where I still can’t. But through this, I have learned I am more resilient and a hell of a lot stronger than I ever thought I could be. Do not doubt what you are capable of, you will often surprise yourself when presented with the impossible.

10) Never stop growing and never stop dreaming

10 years has brought me a lot of things, but the biggest and best thing is the discovery of how exciting it is to grow. Sometimes growth happens without you realizing it, but when you chase that growth, it becomes something so much better. We all had dreams when we were young and the world seemed like it was wide open. Anything, and I mean ANYTHING was possible. The sky was the limit! What did you want to be when you were little? I told you in my first blog post that I always wanted to be a writer. I held that dream in my heart for many years and then I let it fade out. But here I am in 2019, a writer. It may not be my day job, but it is something that lights my soul on fire and that is worth more than any dollar amount added to my bank account. Your dreams that you have are yours for a reason and every day is a chance to become the person that you are meant to be. Do not fight it. Embrace it. The world needs you to be who you are supposed to become.

As the 2010s fade into the roaring 20s, I hope that you are filled with joy and excitement. I personally am excited to bring with me into 2020 all of the lessons that I have learned along the way and I am approaching the new decade with an open heart to continue becoming a woman that I am proud of. In the new decade, I will be more intentional with my priorities. I will be more present in moments that are important. I will chase new challenges that will teach me what I need to learn. I will focus a little less on things that I think I can’t do and instead say “why not me?” I know that who I am and what I am doing matters because someone out there needs to hear my story. And in honor of the rebirth of the 20s, I leave you with the following words from my favorite author, F. Scott Fitzgerald: “For what it’s worth, it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things that you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you are proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”

Lessons About Personal Growth

An Attitude of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving! I’ve always enjoyed Thanksgiving because it’s a holiday dedicated to my favorite things: food and family. It is truly a moment to pause and just BE PRESENT with those that are important to you. In the spirit of this week that is devoted to expressing thanks, I want to talk about what it means to adopt an “attitude of gratitude;” one that will extend past your turkey day festivities. Learning how to create a gratitude practice in your daily life can ultimately lead you to a more positive mindset that you can carry with you all year long. In this week’s post, you will learn what gratitude actually means, as well as some super helpful tips to guide you on your journey.

First, let’s start out by defining gratitude. The dictionary defines Gratitude as “the quality of feeling grateful or thankful.” I think when you ask most people what they are grateful for, they will quickly tell you things like:

  • My Partner
  • My Kids
  • My Family
  • My Friends
  • My Dog or Cat
  • My Job

The list could go on and on. But have you noticed that these things are BIG, important things in your life? While everything on this list should absolutely be acknowledged, learning how to have a grateful heart involves looking at things through a smaller lens. It wasn’t until a few months ago during a meditation session that I was introduced to what is called a “gratitude practice.” I was asked to focus on something incredibly small: maybe a car let me over in traffic, maybe someone held the door for me when I was rushing to catch the elevator, or maybe I had a really nice conversation with a friend that I was missing. At first, I thought this was cheesy. Really? If I have to look that hard for something so small then that’s clearly just me trying too hard to be some fake, positive person, right?

The lesson that I didn’t know I was actively learning is that gratitude is NOT something cheesy. It is something beautiful that can help you grow as a human being and see the world in a slightly brighter light. It’s easy to get bogged down by the negative; spend 5 minutes on social media or watching the news and you will be convinced that you should have no faith in humanity. Gratitude is something that you need in your life because it helps keep things in perspective. As humans, we are constantly looking to compare one piece of information to another piece of information so that we know how to interpret it. This helps us to develop our own frame of reference. Every single person has a frame of reference that is defined by the cumulative sum of their life experiences; no two will be the same. That’s also why we perceive some people as really positive or really negative because we are evaluating their demeanor through our own lens. The truth is that whether you define yourself as a positive person or not, you can begin to create a more positive frame of reference through daily gratitude.

To begin your gratitude practice, you first have to be in the right mental place. This has to be done when you have the time to pause and take a moment to fully immerse yourself in your thoughts. I often struggle with this because I am a task-oriented person, I love checking things off my to do list. I think it is really important to not evaluate this daily activity as just another item on your list that needs to be done as quickly as possible. For it to have meaning and value, it needs to have your uninterrupted and undivided attention. You can choose to have a few moments at the start or your day, in the middle, or at the end, but no matter what it should be fully devoted to focusing on gratitude.

The next step is choosing how to express your gratitude. Whether you choose to write in a journal, speak it out loud, or keep your thoughts to yourself, you should note 5 things that you are grateful for that day. These should not be your “big” things like your friends or family, but should truly be the small things like getting let over in traffic. Why is this so important? Because you are slowly training your brain to focus on searching for joy instead of finding the negative things. This will ultimately help redefine your frame of reference as you move through daily life. I’ll give you an example of my items of gratitude today:

  • The beautiful morning sky on my drive into work
  • My boyfriend rolling over half asleep to kiss me goodbye and telling me: “Have a great day, Beautiful.”
  • A moment to listen to a podcast that I really connected with and helped me feel inspired to be productive
  • The sweet dog that lives in my building that greeted me on my way out and made me smile
  • A shorter work day so that I am able to switch gears to prepare for my holiday

This may feel a little awkward at first, it definitely did for me. Honestly, it SHOULD feel awkward because you are starting something new and your brain is trying to learn. Habits do not happen after one attempt at anything, but rather are a result of gradual and consistent repetition over time. It’s okay if you have to think really hard about what you are grateful for, it will start to come to you more easily. Maybe at this point you are wondering why this actually matters? How many times have you had something small happen, maybe you spill coffee on yourself on your way into work or maybe you got cut off in traffic, a relatively minor inconvenience or frustration. But when someone asks you how your day is going, you say to them, ” I am having the WORST day, just awful.” When you actually tell them what happened, it adds up to maybe 5 minutes, yet you have given it enough weight and meaning to define everything about your day. We do this all the time without even realizing it. But if you can give the really yucky things that happen enough power to make or break your day, why can’t we do the same for the really positive things?

As the end of the year, nay, the end of the decade is rapidly approaching, what type of person and perspective do you want to bring into the next year? Ten years? What goals are you hoping to achieve? No matter what your specific goal may be, gratitude will be a key part of reaching it. Anything that is worth working towards will take time and dedication to get there. It will not happen overnight and let’s be real, if it did, it wouldn’t feel half as amazing to achieve. Gratitude can help keep you focused along the way. It will remind you of the small victories that move the needle forward and get you an inch closer. And trust me from experience, it feels so much better than putting yourself down along the way. My hope for you this week is that you have the most joyous holiday, full of gratitude and love. In this season where our spirits are often lighter, I want you to know that this feeling doesn’t have to show up just once a year. And most importantly, my wish is that you are able to see that while there is truly bad in the world, there is so much more that is truly good.

Lessons About Personal Growth

Perfectly Imperfect

I have been stuck on a topic for my first true blog post for, well, nearly a month. Why? I’m a self-diagnosed perfectionist. I have at least 3 different drafts of posts that I’ve started because I had a really great idea on an interesting topic that I just. couldn’t. put. together. The writer in me wants to have several rough drafts, proofread at least a dozen times, and only release my thoughts to the world when they have been perfectly combed through and curated. But that’s honestly NOT why I started this blog in the first place. Yes, writing is a part of it. But more importantly I wanted to put my thoughts, experiences, and lessons learned out into the world to help others along their own life journey, while simultaneously creating something that my future daughter (or son) will be able to read and be proud of. So, what better topic to start with than being perfectly imperfect.

If you know me personally, you know that I am not a religious person, but I am a spiritual person. I believe that the Universe speaks to me in ways that I need to hear in the exact moment that I need to hear them. The Universe spoke to me when I came across this quotation: “Perfection is stagnation.” I had all the momentum and JOY of starting a blog, but it quickly fizzled out. I let my perfectionism cause me to become stagnant in my pursuit of my purpose. Why? We can deep dive into a psychoanalysis of some deep seated reason from my childhood. But I think I have a better answer.

FEAR. I have so much fear around being vulnerable and about speaking my truth about my view of life. I always like to keep my thoughts close to myself because there I can process them without speaking something out loud that someone will then have the opportunity to judge and give meaning to. But let’s be realistic, we all have fear of some kind. Career speakers and writers may look at my fear of hitting the “publish” button at the top of my screen and chuckle because it’s so simple and something that they do every single day. Fear is something that will literally paralyze you if you let it. It will keep you bogged down like quicksand. The incredibly beautiful thing is that you have the ability to greet your fear as a friend and embrace it. You can instead give it another meaning and allow it to motivate you and give you the push to start the ball rolling down the hill. After quite a bit of time and introspection, I have learned the following things about fear and how to give it new power in your life:

1) Fear is often caused by a lack of confidence. Confidence is something that you can practice and build over time, no one is born perfectly confident.

2) No human being on this Earth is without fear. It is a valid emotion and part of the human experience. To live life thinking that other people just have something that you do not have because you think they are fearless is simply naïve and doesn’t serve you.

3) Being brave is not the absence of fear, it is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Emotions do not have to be mutually exclusive to be valid and true.

So what are some tangible things that you can do to help you work through your fears? You can work to gradually build confidence over time through a variety of activities. First, sit down and journal. YES, I do mean an old school journal with pen and paper. There is something psychological about handwriting your thoughts rather than typing them out. It gives them much more weight and meaning than something you can easily delete with the touch of a button. Journal about something that you are REALLY fearful of, no matter how silly you think it sounds. Write about what that feels like inside: do you feel your muscles tense, maybe you’re sick to your stomach, do you clench your teeth? Write about what thoughts this thing makes you feel about yourself. When you are able to recognize the physiological response to something, you become familiar with it. I’ll give you a personal example:

I loathe public speaking. It makes me anxious, makes me sick on my stomach, the muscles in my upper body tense. I feel like I’m going to say something silly and stutter over my words. I worry people will think that I’m a fraud or won’t actually know what I’m talking about. What if they ask me a question that I don’t know the answer to?

Over time I have become very familiar with what the fear of public speaking feels like in my body. I recognize it when it happens and while I have worked on this skill, it still happens every. single. time. I have practiced this skill and sought out opportunities to work on this quite a bit. When I first started speaking, I was downright terrible. I stammered, said “ummm” way too often, fidgeted with my hands. After quite a bit of practice and learning from people that I felt were very good speakers, A.K.A. “fearless” people, I have fine tuned this skill. But the greatest lesson I have learned thus far is that you should never want to stop feeling that fear. Fear is your body’s way of giving you some kind of information and your big, beautiful brain wants to search for the meaning of that information. Instead of saying, “Wow, I’m really scared to do this thing,” what if you said, “Wow, I really care about this thing. I am EXCITED about this thing.” You get to decide what it means to you when your body sends you those fear signals. You get to build your confidence in your ability to do the thing you are afraid of and each time you feel the fear, it will paralyze you just a little bit less.

Disclaimer: please do not fall into the trap of thinking that you will magically wake up one day and automatically exhibit these behaviors. Please do not give into the lie that you are failing if you know this is a specific area that you want to work on, but you catch yourself falling into familiar thought patterns. These emotions are deeply ingrained within you and frankly are a biological response. They are there for a reason to keep you safe. You shouldn’t want to override the system completely. But what is something you can do today that will move you a little bit closer to building your confidence and embracing your fear? What is one step that you can take in the right direction? You have everything within you that you need to become the perfectly imperfect version of yourself that you want and are meant to be. All it takes is that first step….