Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway. No, Like NOW.

20 May

I recently attended the REVEAL Conference for young women spiritual leaders, and the keynote speaker was Sera Beak, bold and feisty writer of the Spiritual Cowgirl blog and author of “The Red Book: A Deliciously Unorthodox Approach to Igniting Your Divine Spark.”  As she stepped on stage she said, “I have a heavy pen but the voice of a shaky 12-year-old boy.  I’ll stop shaking half-way through, or tomorrow morning.”

Now, she did not at all appear to be a shaky nervous wreck nor did she sound like a 12-year-old boy, but I was struck by her honesty in fessing up to her anxiety about speaking, which she referred to several times throughout the day.  Because, while she may be shaking in her cowgirl boots, she is a speaker, that’s what she does.  And she doesn’t let the shakes stop her, or quiet her voice.

I love hearing about people’s struggles and the things that make them human, because, I don’t know about you, but I’m human and I struggle, and when people act like they have it all together and always have, I just can’t relate.  And I get angry.  So often successful people are presented to us as if they were just born that way, and if they do mention their struggles, they either gloss over them like they were a two second blip in an otherwise charmed life, or they toss their heads back and laugh about some hard time that occurred long ago and far away in the past – people rarely talk about difficulties as they are experiencing them in the present.  You might hear about someone who was afraid of public speaking, but then after years of coaching or breathing exercises or hypnosis or, as suggested on an episode of  The Brady Bunch, picturing the audience in their underwear, they overcame their fears and now can give inspiring charismatic talks at a millisecond’s notice without the merest flutter of nerves in their belly.

But Sera hasn’t gotten over her fear of public speaking yet, and she didn’t wait to overcome it before she started speaking.  She just STARTED because she had something to say, and she deals with her fear in the process.  And she acknowledges it openly, which tends to take the power away from fears that, when we try to repress them, throw parties like the ones people had in high school when their parents went out of town, with little mini-fears running around toilet papering the front steps and pouring Zima into the grand piano and doing keg stands.  Which is to say they go CRAZY and take over and trash the joint.

I have tons of fears.  And everyday I have to walk through them.  Sometimes I do a better job than others.  Sometimes I try to work it out and overcome my fear before I move forward.  Sometimes they stop me altogether.  But in other victorious moments, I feel the fear and do it anyway – whatever it is that I have to say or write or do – I just do it.  Like NOW.  Shaking in my Converse and all.

When I started Writeous Chicks four years ago, right after I began publicizing my first class, a lot of fears came up.  You know, of the who-do-you-think-you-are-what-do-you-have-to-say-that’s-so-important-you’re-obviously-going-to-fail-and-miserably variety.  And, shortly after the first fear arose, I developed a twitch.  A very visible twitch under my eye that lasted for weeks.  This brought about some concerns that the students who signed up for my class were going to, at the very least, seriously question my ability as a teacher when they saw what a twitchy mess I was.  But I kept going with what I had to do to prepare.  I didn’t let the twitch convince me to back out of doing the class, although it tried very hard to do just that, and was very persuasive in its pleas.  I continued to move forward despite it though, because I had something I needed to say and something I had to do.  And miraculously (and with the help of affirmations about how calm I was, recited in my mind approximately 24/7), my twitch disappeared a few weeks before my first session, and the students didn’t stage a walk-out.

So Sera’s speech at the conference was a powerful reminder that we don’t have to get everything together and overcome every single fear before we step out into the world with our actions and our words.  We can feel the fear and do it, whatever it is for us, anyway.  RIGHT NOW.  We don’t have to wait another second.  And the cool thing is, usually once you take action, the fear starts to subside half-way through.  Or tomorrow morning.

How do you deal with your fears?  When have you felt the fear and done your it anyway?

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4 Responses to “Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway. No, Like NOW.”

  1. Kitty Graves June 18, 2010 at 11:02 am #

    This was probably the best possible post I could’ve clicked into when first visiting your site. Thanks for throwing it out there and embracing the idea of relating w/ others via fears and apprehension. A lot of what I write in my blog is just that… fear, apprehension, anxiety, etc… I look forward to reading more of your stuff here… I just had to stop after this first post to comment accordingly! 🙂

  2. Jennifer Garam June 18, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    Hi Kitty, thanks for your comment! I look forward to connecting with you in the blogosphere and on Twitter and working through fear!

  3. @fearofwriting November 4, 2010 at 5:56 pm #

    I heartily agree about the glossy success images we’re fed. When I set out to help writers back in 2000, I wanted to provide an antidote to all that intimidating BS–and you’re obviously on a similar mission :~)

    I was also doing it for myself. I set out to help writers because I was horribly shy, gnarled up with fear, a confirmed hermit and desperately in need of healing for my own writing confidence. So I forced myself to go out and start doing writing workshops. I was fueled by a belief in my book and my method, but not at all by self-belief. Slowly, over the years of taking risks for what I believed in, my self-belief grew. Which doesn’t mean my fears are gone. But I try to keep going out of my comfort zone so I won’t let them stop me from living creatively.

    Thank you so much for writing this. I was treating myself today to another juicy morsel of honesty and passion from your blog. And you totally delivered!

  4. Jennifer Garam November 10, 2010 at 11:38 am #

    @fearofwriting Hi Milli! Thanks for sharing your story and journey! So awesome that you pushed and continue to push yourself out of your comfort zone to conquer your fears, YAY! And I love your mission 🙂 xoxo

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