"No." At one point or another we all get that instinctual feeling. The one where you can physically feel your stomach plummet to the concrete ground at your feet. The one where it actually feels like time has stopped. It's that moment where it seems control is no longer in your hands. The next step you take could end in disaster, and you're terrified. So, the first thing that comes out of your mouth is "no." Without hesitation, you automatically decline the invitation, shut yourself down and try to change the subject. As soon as you feel the anxiety creep in, you do everything in your power to rid yourself of it. To avoid facing something that makes your hands shake and your stomach knot so intensely you feel physically sick, you say no. You stop yourself from living because you're afraid. You're afraid what could happen. You're afraid of what's behind closed doors and the inevitable, like failure, rejection, change, the unknown.
The other night, I saw this in my younger sister. She had been invited to try out for the junior varsity softball team for our town high school. As my dad was trying to understand her rejection, I noticed something in her, that I knew all too well. I had, in the past, had conversations like this one with my father. My dad, genetically, is not the worrier type. He goes through life doing what he has to do when he has to do it. It seems fears are trivial to him. He's always said "Can Maire, be Maire?" meaning, be yourself and you''ll be fine. For him, being yourself and doing your best is what matters, what comes after that is out of your hands. It's why, he's a blessing and a tad frustrating to deal with at times. The feelings I described earlier, the ones that paralyze you physically and emotionally, are a foreign concept in the eyes of my father.He goes with the flow and whatever happens, happens. So when he see's my mom, my sister and myself quake in the face of our self-doubt and our lack of self esteem, he doesn't understand where it's coming from.
My mother, on the other hand, knows instinctively that these feelings are not something that can necessarily be explained. They're rooted in us and individually we all have our own case of irrational fears due to our issues with confidence. So, when my sister approached her about not trying out for the team, she wasn't the least bit hesitant to agree to the pleas.
While I observed this and recognized the scene, mirroring my own experiences in the past, I had a sudden realization. If this was my daughter, if my daughter inherited the lackluster presence of confidence, what would I want her to do? If her first thought is to automatically say no, because of anxiety,and I sheltered her from going through that, would I be encouraging her to live her life in fear? If her gut is telling her to say no to an experience, an experience that is harmless but new and different none the less, isn't that when she should be saying yes? Aren't the things that scare us the most, the things we should be going after? How will you grow and learn and become the strong independent person you're meant to be, if you hide when things get hard?
It's okay to feel like your world is crumbling around you. It's okay to have days where getting out of bed is your biggest accomplishment. It's okay that most of the time, you're not okay. But, don't hinder your progress by giving in to the things that hold you back. Don't let experiences and invitations and opportunities pass you by because you're afraid you're not good enough. At one point or another, everyone is a proby, a newb, or "the new kid." The worst thing we can do for our progress is to hide behind the things making us incredibly anxious to the point where we have trouble holding back tears. It's usually the things that terrify us the most which will aid in or growth and our overall well being.
We have to condition ourselves to fight against the parts of us that want to stay sheltered from the world around us. Learn to say "yes," even when your hands are shaking and all the blood has drained from your face. Say yes, especially when all you want to do is go home and crawl into bed. Say yes, to prove to yourself you can make it through. You are not your anxiety. You are not your fears, your doubts or your awkwardness. Embrace the discomfort, the embarrassment and the inevitable failure along the way. Stop putting that immense amount of pressure on yourself and just live. No one's story is perfect, so why do you have such high expectations for yourself?
Never forget the essence of your spark!