I kind of just half-ass my way through life. In fact, Jared and I joke that “Cut Every Corner” is our family’s theme song.
I’m spontaneous, sort of reckless, and basically fly by the seat of my pants.
You don’t have to take me too seriously; I certainly don’t.
As I type these sentences, a black knot forms in my stomach. These are long-held beliefs about myself, and my work recently has threatened their validity. Apparently, that scares me on some level. The knot tells me so.
As I got closer and closer to finishing the first draft of my book – and the more I called it “my book” instead of “some ebook thing I’m working on” – I noticed I started to have something resembling panic attacks. The knot was there, black and heavy in the pit of my gut. My chest would tighten and it felt like I was breathing through a vise grip. It was as if my entire body was clenching, inside and out.
It happened when I sat down to finish up chapters and when people asked me about my publishing goals. It happened when I thought about wanting to speak or who might buy a book I wrote. It’s happening now as I try to explain to you the pain of metamorphosis.
I don’t know how, but I could sense that this wasn’t the type of fear that alerts me to danger. It seemed more like what happened when Emma got her ears pierced. She’d saved for months and had waited the allotted time we’d suggested to make sure she was ready. She bounced into the store, picked out her earrings, climbed up in the chair, and then panicked. For over an hour she went back and forth between, “OK, I’m ready, do it,” and “NOOOOO! Stop! Wait!!!!! I’m not ready!” She shook in my lap and asked me to tell her again how bad it would hurt and for how long.
It feels like getting close to something, something you want that is inexplicably terrifying.
My heart pounds in my chest even though I’m safe at home in front of my laptop.
I’m close to becoming something new, I think. I’m taking real steps and following through with important details. I’m not doing it halfway or hanging back in the peanut gallery with a smile and a few jokes. I am taking the big leap.
I’m putting myself out there as someone who has something to say, as someone who knows what she’s talking about.
I’m just as surprised as I am scared. It’s amazing how terrifying it is to swap out our own labels, how completely petrified I am to stand fully erect in front of the world as more than kind of a fuck up.
I’m afraid, in part, of being rejected. And I’m nervous about the response from long-time friends and supporters; it seems we hate change in others as much as we hate it in ourselves. But mostly, I’m just afraid of the same thing that haunts us all: the unfamiliar.
I know what it looks like to sit on the floor and make jokes from the back of the room. I know how to add my two cents from a safe distance with the caveat of only being worth two cents. I know how and when to shrink. I’ve never considered myself a wallflower, but I’d say I’m more entertaining than informative. Even if those roles no longer fit who I am and what I want to do, they are easy, natural, and safe.
I feel like I’m moments away from shedding my skin and unfurling what I hope will be beautiful wings, and I’m totally stunned at how frightened I am by the whole thing.
But we do the things that scare us, right? I do.
That’s who I am now.