One of the side effects of moving a lot is being the new girl all too often. By the time I graduated from high school I had developed a fear of speaking in public. I wasn’t only afraid of public speaking, but of raising my hand in class even to give the answer I knew was correct. I decided that when I went to college I would reinvent myself as someone who wasn’t afraid of speaking in public.
This was a challenge since I hated being the center of attention so much that if I could have graduated from high school without crossing the stage, I would have. As I sat there in my seat with my heart racing after accepting my diploma and awards, I decided the next time I was on stage I would do it minus the fear. I would celebrate my achievement rather than fearing the recognition. I knew that in four years I would be graduating from college so I had a time line to face all my fears down.
I headed off to college with the goal of reinventing myself as fearless. My very first class on my schedule was graded heavily on class participation. We sat around a table and we were expected to share our opinions. As I spoke my voice cracked and my hands shook violently under the table. But I continued to speak day after day after day. One day a friend sitting next to me asked why I shook the entire table when I spoke. I laughed it off but inside I wanted to run back into silence.
Over those four years at Lewis and Clark College, I became quite outspoken in the classroom, did many poetry readings, became a leader in student government and became a student representative on many committee. Somewhere along the way I lost track of the girl who had a fear of public speaking. Eventually my body forgot to shake when I spoke in class.
I learned to never say no to any opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone. I continue that tradition today. I’ve done crazy skits with my friend Donna Maria (see picture above) of Indie Business Network even though acting silly in front of people was outside of my comfort zone. I created a habit of saying yes to the uncomfortable.
One of my favorite speakers and authors is Patsy Clairmont. She stands on stage and stomps her foot and declares “I don’t do____” as she tells the humorous story of having just done that very thing. She was a prisoner in her own home as an agoraphobic for many years. I totally identify with her as she talks about different trials that she faced as she conquered fear. The voice in my head that declares, “I don’t do ____” sounds a lot like she does on stage.
There is something about walking through fear, not around, under or over it sets us free to see just how small our fears really are.
When it comes to comfort zones I implore you to jump, leap, or run outside of yours. I am now comfortable speaking on stage, acting goofy with Donna Maria and so much more. Who knows what the future holds in opportunities to go do what I never imagined myself doing when I was imprisoned by fear.
What are you not comfortable doing? Get out there and find an opportunity to do it — now. In your family and business, you will be faced with opportunities that will push you past what is comfortable, but for the sake of your family, kids, pets and your own personal growth, just do it. It won’t kill you even if you are completely humiliated, turn all shades of red and think the world is judging you. The reality is that you are usually the only one that will be judging yourself. Most people will be impressed that you took the opportunity to act. So for goodness sakes don’t be afraid of fear. Instead, act on it.
Today! What are you waiting for?