To go for it is to let yourself be seen, be vulnerable, be authentic. To let other people witness your authentic self, not knowing what they’re going to think about it. To coexist with the self-talk of the neverending list of ways you could “optimize your starting point” (is how I’ll say it kindly, to myself and to others who may be sitting in that spot right now). It’s a place we’ve all been at some point. The thought that, “I can’t start because it’s not good enough yet,” is a universal experience, and a scary one at that.
Starting my podcast was a major “go for it” moment. After years of wanting a podcast and not feeling ready enough, not having the right equipment, or enough content, I chose to go for it anyway and pressed record on my phone. Often only one thing stands between us and what we want and that is us. Or more specifically, our mindset. “Go for it” is one such mindset that narrows the gap between where we are and where we want to be. I wish I could say I’ve learned how to rid myself of self-doubt. No such luck, so I learned this little trick instead.
For example, I often find myself in the 10-15 minutes before hosting a zoom event with butterflies, heart pounding, tense shoulders, and barely able to breathe. Thoughts race like, “What am I gonna say? Why did I schedule this for 90 minutes? What am I gonna talk about for 90 minutes?! I don’t even know what I’m gonna say.”
In these moments, I have to calm myself down and quiet my mind for a second. I have to be able to say, to my own physiology, that I hear you. I hear these stress hormones that are being released into my blood, feel them drawing my shoulders up to my ears and making my heart pound. I feel you. I hear you, body. I know that you’re scared. A few deep inhales through the nose and out through the mouth are great in any moment, but especially moments like these – when my already fast-moving energy becomes tight, constricting. It meets a resistance which every one of us carry, and when that fast energy meets our resistance, it can get a little uncomfortable.
Going for it is being present with that discomfort, acknowledging your excitement and nervousness, reassuring yourself this isn’t the life-threatening kind of fear, and choosing to move forward. I’ve learned time and time again that those 15 minutes before the thing, the anticipation is the worst part. Once it starts, and you’re in the middle of it, doing your thing – there’s no time to think about these things. When I’m in flow, offering my gifts to others, it’s everything that I want and the rest doesn’t matter. Know that you can hear those racing thoughts of fear and self-doubt, feel the turning stomach and fluttering heart, and witness all of it, knowing that it will end – and then do it anyway. Emotions are nothing if not temporary, fleeting, and fluid.
Owning the discomfort also means loosening your grip on the narrative you’ve built around your limitations. For example, I used to say, to myself and others, that I had social anxiety and that’s why I didn’t have friends. But I don’t resonate with “having” social anxiety at all anymore. I’ve learned how to meet that energy and maneuver it differently. When I arrive in new social situations (even virtually), it still puts my stomach through the ringer as I anticipate the future (scary) but I’ve learned how to talk myself off the ledge. This didn’t happen overnight, but through a series of experiences that unfolded and allowed me the opportunity to envision that my life could be better. I could stop holding myself back with my own fear. I could choose to go for it, while fear is ever present.
A pivotal one of these experiences happened when I was 22 years old, and I had moved to Dallas, Texas. I was far away from my family, I didn’t know anyone, and I was starting a job at a software company – and I had no experience in software. I struggled to meet people and became very lonely, but eventually, I mustered up the courage one night to go out to a social event. I approached the event, mind full of that self-doubting chatter, and strode through the front doors, only to beeline straight to the ladies room, where I proceeded to have a proper 20-minute meltdown. The only way I was able to pull myself together was by telling myself that I didn’t have to stay or talk to anyone, and by recognizing the strength and courage to even be willing to try.
With that realization, I exited the ladies room and started rewalking the path to the front doors. About halfway there, something came over me – source, spirit, ancestors, whatever you wanna call it – and inspired me to go for it. I saw a table with an empty seat and asked if I could join. They said yes, asked if I wanted a beer, and I even hung out with one of them a few other times after that. The social anxiety had not subsided – I had a full on panic attack when I got there. And the only reason I had this experience where I actually met other people was by quitting, giving up, and letting go. Inside that ladies room I felt proud of myself for even having the guts to arrive and I was content with myself. And in giving up, in honoring what I wanted to do, I was able to get what I wanted. That’s the beauty of going for it.
Thank you for reading, dear friends! Find more articles like this one on the Owning Authenticity blog and hear more stories on my i Learned podcast. Explore the rest of my offerings on my website www.owningauthenticity.com