Is fear of being vulnerable standing in the way of your dreams?
Tonight, I was in a situation that required me to introduce myself, and I was asked what I do. Normally, I would make a vague, self-abasing remark about my day job and quickly deflect the focus away from myself.
In fact, a few years ago, one of the worst things you could have said to me would have been “put yourself out there.” I do NOT like the spotlight. At all. Put me in front of a camera, and I get all kinds of awkward.
But not anymore. (Well, I’m still working on the camera thing. Change doesn’t happen overnight!) Tonight, for the first time, I introduced myself as a writer and entrepreneur. Yes, I still have a day job. But I don’t consider it to be a primary part of my identity. So instead of my usual hurried and uninteresting response, I stepped out and shared the part of myself that I’m most excited about.
And I’ve realized that somehow, without intending to, I’ve come to a point where it matters more to me that I do what matters to me than whether I am seen or unseen.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that avoiding the spotlight somehow makes you better or more mature than those who embrace it. This is so not true. When it comes to pursuing the passions and dreams that have been placed inside you, there will come a point at which you must either choose to share your dream in order to make it reality, or to continue to hide and let it die. You can’t have both.
At the end of the day, it’s not about you. Or me. Or anyone else. It’s about realizing that the things we care about are more important than we are. It’s about realizing that if they are important, then others deserve to hear about them, too.
Being shy or embarrassed to share what makes you come alive can become a huge obstacle to your progress in pursuing it. The more you choose not to speak about it, the less real it becomes, until it seems silly and impossible. On the flipside, the more you talk about it, the more chances you have to not only make it seem possible, but also to find people who will support you and maybe even collaborate with you.
I saw a billboard tonight that read, “Fear is contagious. But so is hope.” Fear of speaking up, of being vulnerable, of sharing what’s in your soul, is contagious. Sometimes all it takes is for one person to speak up. Maybe that person has dreams that they’re nervous to talk about, too. I’m willing to bet they do.
So speak up! Share what makes you excited. Don’t worry about being seen. Or not seen. Don’t worry about sounding silly. Just talk about it, even just to one person. If not someone you know, then a stranger. I promise it will make a difference for you – and it might just make a difference for someone else, too.