Monday, May 25, 2015

Fear and the Rush of Keeping It Real

The older I get, the more I appreciate the value and utility of fear in exercising judgment. 

I'm not talking about taking physical risks (which I try not to do, although Alaskan adventures and stupidity sometimes foil those plans). I'm referring more to emotional and professional risks, and the risks that come with speaking my mind in person and on this blog. 

Fear precedes most of my decisions, including big ones that I don't regret, like moving to Alaska, having kids, and taking certain professional opportunities that come to me before I necessarily feel ready for them. 

Fear also precedes smaller decisions, like whether I'm going to blog about a certain topic or tackle a certain conflict in my life in a particular way.

So far, the few things I truly regret feel too raw to confront anyway. None of them ever had an element of fear, exactly, but rather some ultimate realization that a certain path was irreversibly foreclosed to me.

Having kids (and taking Prozac) has made me less afraid, particularly about non-fatal things I can't control, like whether I'm laid off from work or whether someone is offended by me or misconstrues something I say or do.

There is also a certain rush that comes with the type of fear I'm talking about. It's a rush I get when I know I'm following my gut instinct and keeping it real, by saying what I really think, or taking something on that the imposter-complex-having, not-good-enough-working-woman in me says I'm not qualified to do, or shouldn't say out loud.

Today I came into work to a voicemail. I recognized the number as a client's. I thought, "Uh-oh. Now what? There's a crisis and it's not even 8:00 a.m.!" But when I listened to her message, it wasn't work-related. She'd only called to say she'd had a bad day the previous afternoon, and read the blog, and it made her feel better and cheered her up. So she was calling to thank me. Her call made my day.

A couple weeks before that, another client stopped by my office to chat. My heart was pounding because I was sure he was about to excoriate me for something (I didn't know what) I'd said on my blog, or maybe some other mysterious infraction I was unaware I had committed. But it turned out that all he wanted was ten minutes of my time and my professional opinion.

These felt to me like little reminders from the universe to keep saying what I think without worrying so much about the consequences. Not to give myself license to be reckless, of course. But more of an encouragement to trust my own instincts about what can, should, or needs to be said or done---even when fear tags along for the ride.

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