Fear + Trying Something New is a Guest Post by Leanne Bamford Barnes
The premise of her session was that fear is what stops us all from trying something new. It’s a single feeling that resonates in many ways. Fear that ‘it’ will go wrong, fear ‘it’ is a mistake, fear we will be laughed at, fear that we will be embarrassed if ‘it’ doesn’t go to plan. Fear we will fail.
During the Christmas holidays I started a blog about living a balanced life. My goal is to share, and invite other women to share, what they do to live their most balanced life. I hope that it will be an interesting and useful collection of thoughts, tools and stories that will resonate with women everywhere. Mostly when they are feeling unbalanced but even on their best days. I am trying to create something that I would read or follow.
I worked on the blog for months. Drafting, editing, reading, and re-reading articles. I researched search engine optimisation and other marketing techniques, I learnt about web site hosting and domain names, I set up the Facebook page and built the website. It was extremely painful and not always enjoyable because I was out of my comfort zone. There were tears, tantrums and a lot of sulking, which my husband had to endure, poor guy. But it was also exciting and I felt my ambition come back to life after being dormant for way too long. I felt nourished by the possibilities. Finally, I had found a project that I could immerse myself in and I was confident that I could make it work.
Then crunch time came. It was time for the blog to go live. I decided the easiest way to get started was to share it with my Facebook friends. Given that I am not a huge Facebook user this meant that my overall reach was less than 150 people. I wasn’t exactly launching to the masses.
But when the time came I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t press the button. I felt nervous and sick to the stomach. I talked myself out of it and was convinced that my original idea that I was so excited about was actually pretty naff. My closest friends – and I mean one or two people – knew the stories I was planning to share but I just felt so vulnerable sharing myself beyond that.
Days and weeks went by and still I did not promote my blog. I was worried what people would say, I was worried they would laugh and talk about me behind my back, and I was worried that if the blog didn’t work I would be considered a failure.
I kept coming back to fear and considering how and why it was stopping me from moving on to the next part of this project. I was also reminded by my husband of an excerpt from a speech by Theodore Roosevelt that I had read a couple of years before thanks to researcher and storyteller Brene Brown.
THE MAN IN THE ARENA
Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In A Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
When I read this quote it was an ah-ha moment for me. This, I decided, is how I want to live my life. Coming back to it during this time when I was stuck was a good move.
Eventually I became bored with thinking about all of the reasons why I shouldn’t and I focused on how excited I was by the ‘what if’? I wanted to get into the arena. So one night I just did it. I shared my blog on Facebook. Unsurprisingly my world didn’t come crashing in around me. I quickly received some lovely comments and well wishes from friends, and that was that. Job done.
Sure people may be talking about me or even laughing at what a joke I am, but there is nothing I can do about that. I’m pretty certain though that those people, if they do exist, are not my dearest friends whose opinion I value.
My blog is now out there in cyber-world, people who I don’t know are following it and I am totally in love with the process. What I actually felt once I fought the fear (and won!) was nothing but positive. Proud that I tried, surprised that I did it, confident that the blog will be liked, thankful for the support that I have received, and happy to have powered on when I was scared and intimidated. As Elizabeth Gilbert said in her speech at the Opera House many months before, ‘Fear, you can come along for the ride but you will not be allowed to make any decisions’.
Of course it can be hard to take risks and be open to making mistakes. Being vulnerable and exposed is scary. And trying something new doesn’t always mean that it is the right thing to do. For every good decision I have made there has been plenty of bad ones, like loving the bad guy or accepting the wrong job offer. But once the pain, anguish, embarrassment or heartache subsided my next step was always a smart one. Mistakes or decisions that haven’t worked out like I had planned or hoped for now feel like they were taking me one step closer to where I am today.
When I look back on my adult life all of my regrets, and there are not that many, come from things I wanted to do or dreamed about but never actually did. My happiest and fondest memories are of times when I tried something new.
Leanne Bamford Barnes is the curator of My Kind of Balance a personal blog about life and balance. Life hacks, suggestions, articles and videos to help you find your own kind of balance. Once a traveller and independent career gal she is now trying to figure out who this thirty something version is. The big 4-0 is just around the corner.