Fear is a frequent visitor when I’m doing something hard. I just finished the second annual Storytellers Summit and it was well-attended, much appreciated by participants. For my part, I was very proud of the content and speakers. I felt they really represented points-of-view and expertise that I value in the world about how to get out of your head and create, write, publish, and produce your work.
It’s done and it was glorious, but it was not that long ago when I was crippled with fear about pulling off this summit, at all. And I’m not talking about last year when it was all new. (I wish I was.) I’m talking about last month, when I had to do … the audio editing.
Oh was I terrified. I couldn’t figure it out. I was pretty sure at the very last minute, I’d have to call the whole Summit off – because what was it without content? A lot of broken promises, disappointed and angry people. People who suddenly and finally understood that I was not reliable. A space case. Not good enough.
I couldn’t do it. Why? My ashamed little brain offered all kinds of reasons.
- I’m not good at that.
- I’m so dumb.
- I shouldn’t have to.
- Poor me. And poor me leads to a story about how hard I work, and all the things I’ve done and still need to do. Martyr me.
- And of course, the classic irrational thought, because I’m fat, which automatically makes me a bad person in my mind who probably will just let everyone down and never figure out how to do the audio editing.
I said I couldn’t figure it out, but for those several days the reality is I hadn’t tried. That’s how scared I was. I had shopped, eaten, cleaned, watched tv, emailed and worried. Finally late on a Saturday night, I announced to my family I needed help. Their response, of course, was “what do we know about audio editing?”
“Just come with me and help me get started!” I literally stomped my foot. I nearly cried. “I just need help.”
My husband came with me back to my office and said, “Show me the problem.” (God love him.)
I opened the software. I imported a file. I began working. And by 2am, that same night it was done. It was even good.
Sometimes we resist the work. And the longer and harder we resist, the more powerful those excuses and beliefs become. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. I had played up the “what if” scenario so strongly in my head, and I had behaved increasingly badly as the drop dead date approached, that I believed I was going to fail, let everyone down, and had begun proving I was not worthy. (Hadn’t I overeaten, procrastinated and made a scene? And hadn’t I asked for help? Bad Julia. Bad person.)
With the smallest help, I made it through the “dread wall” and created a great offering for my followers new and old. As I said, the Storytellers Summit was a great success, and I was very proud of the content this year. (Even the audio editing.)
I wanted to share this little self-indulgence for two reasons. Many of you can relate to this, and will at least know you’re not alone. Perhaps you’re not even a “bad person.” And the second reason is I want to write down my key learning from all this suffering. Writing it down helps me store and assimilate this new hard-won wisdom. So here goes – what did I learn?
- Asking for help is not the same as failing. Getting help is the right, empowered move. (You don’t have to stomp your foot about it. But do what it takes to get help. Email me, for instance.
- Do it scared. Do it even though you’re scared. Especially because you’re scared. If it is the only way for you to do it, then do it, scared. It doesn’t matter at that point whether what you do is great or awful. You’ve broken down a barrier and you are the better for it.
Thanks for listening to my crazy. I wanted to share it because it’s a little embarrassing. Why was it so hard to ask for help? And I’m certain others out there judge themselves for moments of fear…Days of procrastination… Shame about their behavior… their neediness.
Do it scared is one simple way forward.