I read a post “Lessons from Childhood” by Judy Herrmann this week on ASMP’s Strictly Business Blog that really hit home. She was talking about a children’s book that she was reading to her daughter that touched upon one of the universal themes of life – facing your fears. The story talks about a young turtle with a cracked shell being reluctant to get an x-ray because it would show how scared he was inside. Dr. Bear assures him that bravery isn’t about fearlessness, but rather “doing what you have to do, no matter how scared you feel.”
I remember reading those same childhood tales to my own daughter when she was young. And it reminded me of when she was in her sophomore year of college and headed to Santiago, Chile to study for 6 months. I sensed she was anxious and afraid of the unknown – a perfectly natural response, and she was holding it inside. I asked her if she was afraid and she hesitated a bit, perhaps not wanting to show me her vulnerable side and she finally replied – yes, a little. I told her that just about everything I’ve ever done that’s been most rewarding in my life – were the things that I was most afraid of doing.
I’ve spent a lifetime facing my fears and if I really break it down, I realize that what I fear most is the possibility of rejection. That if I put myself out there, reaching down into my deepest self and presenting that to others and it wasn’t embraced, how devastated I would be. I wish I could say that whenever I have faced my fears and put myself out there through my work or in my personal life that it always had a happy ending. Quite honestly, for every step forward, there have been at least two steps back. And like the turtle, I have taken solace and crawled into my shell at times.
Ultimately, though someone or something comes along that pierces that armor and I reach out – facing my fears once again. And every so often I get rewarded in a million different ways. That’s what keeps me going, what I keep my eye on – that even though the setbacks and rejections far outnumber the successes – they all play into making the triumphs that much sweeter and meaningful.
And so I face my fears and push myself over and over – seeking, exploring and never really feeling comfortable, even after all these years. But I know no other way, nor would I choose another way because it’s far scarier to live a life inside a shell.