Confronting my fears is a big part of what I’m doing by authoring this blog. I’ve always struggled to make myself vulnerable, even in the simplest ways. I think this is connected, at least in part, to my self-confidence, which I have been working on as a part of my ongoing personal development journey.
I’ve always been a shy person, to the extent that my parents/teachers thought I might have some sort of problem back in preschool. At home I talked (and screamed/yelled) nonstop, but at school and in social situations I spoke to only a select one or two people, and if I had something to say to teachers or anyone else, those few other people would say it for me. This improved the older I got, and I was fairly “normal” by fourth grade. Today we might call it selective mutism, and mild social anxiety. I think that part still follows me to this day. Despite that history, I always had friends and never felt out of place at school. As a matter of fact, I tend to thrive in environments where I am learning new things and where I am in leadership positions (school, hobby-related classes, leadership roles, etc.).
I put myself out there because I have a desire to be heard and make a difference, even though it is a struggle for me. I have a strong fear of disappointing myself, which turns into a cycle because I worry about disappointing others (even in totally irrational situations where no one is going to be disappointed when I speak up), and when I disappoint others, I disappoint myself. I fear rejection, and I am my own harshest critic. I am fully aware that this is irrational.
I wish I had more of that “I don’t care what anyone thinks” attitude, but it’s just not me, and I am learning to embrace my overly-perfectionistic (is that even a word?) self. By this I mean that I am trying to channel my fear into excitement (I heard somewhere that the hormones are the exact same, it is just our interpretation that differs – not sure how much I believe it as it is SO hard for me to change that fear to excitement, but I’m trying.). By trying to minimize my chances of experiencing what I interpret as rejection, I miss out on positive experiences and learning opportunities. That is the worst thing I can do for myself. So I acknowledge my fears, I accept them, and I try to rise above them for my own sake.
Recently I have noticed a big difference in my confidence, both at work inside the therapy office, and outside in the real world. I have begun to believe that not everything I say or do is scrutinized – I am not the most important thing in other people’s lives (do I have the egocentrism of a teenager?). I believe in myself, and I have started networking and marketing myself as though that is true, so that I can release this potential. Every day I find opportunities to speak up and speak out. It’s not easy, that’s for sure, but the more I do it, the more I see my confidence rising, and the more it’s worth it.
I’ve had this post typed up for weeks without posting it because, well, fear. But it’s time now, for me to really be honest about myself. It’s time to stop trying to make my life look “perfect” to everyone else. Life isn’t perfect; we take what we have and we make the best out of it that we can. I’ve always seen beauty in imperfection, and it’s time to let my imperfection out.