Sometimes when you confront your fears and do something that makes you tell yourself, “Why the heck am I doing this…I’m scared to death,” ends up being the best thing you ever did. -A recent post I wrote to friends and family on a private social media network.
This message is something that resounds to many of us. It is something that loved ones of mine related to. It is something that we internalize, but often don’t mention out of fear. Why? After reading comments from loved ones who were really touched by my above post, I felt like it is a message that I need to share on this blog. Although this message is not necessarily educational content and materials, it is a message that transcends content area and disciplines. It is a message that speaks throughout the world. It is a message that someone out there in the universe needs to hear.
I speak from my heart. I speak from experience. I speak because I have been there. I speak because I have done the same and have seen the incredible life lessons and gifts that come from confronting fear. I speak because I am there.
My husband told me for several years that I needed to start blogging and sharing educational content because that is what I’m gifted in. He said this because I had numerous colleagues encouraging me to share content and knowledge. It’s what I did often in my work. My husband tried to get me to join Twitter and blogging professionally, which I rebelled against (you can see this from some of my other posts.)
I am shy by nature. It scared me to put myself out there professionally online. I thought, “what will people think? Is my stuff good enough? Will my writing be good enough?…etc.” I feared it and so didn’t do it. I knew in my gut it is the direction I needed to go in and what I should do, but I let fear grip me. I was scared of the unknown. I was scared to take steps of faith and believe that incredible things could be on the other side of the fear. I internalized my fear and sat still from moving forward.
Eventually with continued encouragement, I finally gave it a try. I was terrified. My body stiffened. I tighten and grasped my throat. My stomach turned in knots. I thought to myself, “What would happen? What if I fail?” This time I did not let fear grip me still. I set it aside, put my ambition to use, and took faithful leaps into the unknown.
Although I had fear, I knew in my gut it was going to work out and lead to awesome things. Instead of letting the fear silence me, I let my gut lead me. I listened to the inward voice that told me, “This is the right thing to do. This is what you need to do. This is what you are gifted in. This is what you are called to do, so do it. Everyone else tells you to do this, so stop letting fear hold you back. Just do it!” I knew it was going to be a huge learning experience. I had read stories and had been encouraged by others. I knew what I had to share and say would help someone out there in the world make their lives and teaching a little easier.
Confronting my fear has led to wonderful things… professional contacts and networks I otherwise would not have, huge learning experiences and professional growth, professional opportunities, etc. Had I not confronted my fear, I would not be where I am today. I would not be sharing this message out there in the world to anyone who needs to read it. I would be still in my mundane existence letting fear grip me.
So now… fear again…
Soon the shy woman who I am will be presenting a session at the 2013 International TESOL Conference and Expo Center. Yes, I know. Seriously, I am! Online I may not seem shy, but really I am. Those who know me in everyday life outside the online universe, know that I am…well except my students. They don’t think I’m shy. It’s because I have to be animated to teach well and help them learn.
Why is a shy person like me sharing at such a big international conference in front of hundreds of people? It is because I have something valuable to say. I have expertise that many people in my field don’t have. I teach ESL as a classically trained musician. It is what makes my teaching unique and different. I know that if I don’t share at the conference, I am being a disservice those in my profession. I would be selfish in hoarding the knowledge and not sharing it with others. I love to help people, so that is why I am doing it. Does speaking in front of others terrify me? Yes! Am I going to let that stop me from sharing and giving back to others in my profession? No! I know I have things to share that are unique and helpful, so I am going for it! This doesn’t mean that inwardly I’m not telling myself, ” Why the heck am I doing this…I’m scared to death.” That would be a lie. Of course, I’m scared! I proceed in faith knowing that I’m doing good for those in my field and that is why I do what I do. I will speak with confidence and assurance in knowing I am giving back in the world.
Confronting fears is often the best thing any of us could ever do. It teaches. It builds confidence. It opens doors. It leads to friendships and networks. It helps others. It leads us to where we are supposed to be. So next time you think, “Why the heck am I doing this…I’m scared to death”…proceed with confidence and do it anyway. You won’t regret it!
What experiences do you have confronting fear?