"There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing." - AristotleRemember the feeling you used to get in the pit of your stomach (back before cellphones and text messages) when you'd pick up the phone to call that boy and/or girl you liked? Remember the frenzied internal dialogue that would accompany that bold and terrifying act of bravery? What if their mom answers? What if *he* picks up but pretends to be his brother so he doesn't have to talk to me? What if he has caller ID and sees my number and doesn't pick up? No one picked up...Do I leave a message? Did that message sound ok? SHIT. I have GOT to delete that message before anyone hears it. Oh my god...I can't delete it. That's it. I have to drop out of school. No, I have to MOVE. Worst. Voicemail. Ever. I. Suck. I. Should. Die.
|Oh mah guh. Who does she think SHE is??|
Remember that? And unfortunately, at least in my case, that little self-conscious freak inside my head has not gotten ANY less judgmental and/or anxious since the middle school days. Pretty much anytime I've EVER attempted to "put myself out there" (aren't we always out "there"?) in a real way, I've found myself nearly crippled (or actually crippled) with self-doubt, worry, and defeatism. This may be because I spent my entire youth being judged and rejected- yes, I was a musical theater kid - or perhaps because I was the youngest of 4 kids and often picked on. Maybe it was because I was a Straight A student and always had this feeling that what I did HAD to be perfect or it just wasn't good enough.
Whatever the reason, my inner critic has been my worst enemy for as long as I can remember. She's a total Regina Georges. She's like one of those people who sends out the virulent mean tweets about celebrities that are so scathing that they become comical when read aloud. If I had a dollar for everything I didn't say, do, or try because I had shamed myself out of attempting it, I would be one very rich little yoga teacher. In fact, my inner critic came thisclose to preventing me from becoming a yoga teacher in the first place (too fat! not flexible enough! what do you know? you're a phony! why bother?).
Does this strike a chord? If so, I've got some good news and some bad news...In the spirit of this article, I'll give the bad news first.
BAD NEWS: The inner mean girl never goes away. Or at least as far as I can tell...There's always a possibility of failure, being ridiculed, and falling flat on our faces. Because those possibilities exist (even if the odds of them coming to fruition are slim to none), our egos will always jump to the worst possible conclusion and hang out there. The ego doesn't want to be bruised. It doesn't want to take risks. It wants to "look good" no matter the cost.
But there's also...
GOOD NEWS: The inner mean girl is NOT THE BOSS OF YOU. Some of you lucky folks already know this. Some of you are plucky. You go for what you want. Sometimes you get it and sometimes you don't. Sometimes you get laughed at and sometimes you get applauded. Mean Girls everywhere look at you and say, "who does she think SHE is ??" and you choose not to care. You're the Jennifer Lawrence's of the world who trip over your Oscar gowns and laugh it off like no one saw but your dog (rather than retreat into a shame-filled self-loathing spiral as I may have done in her case...that's if I even had the balls to become a professional actress which I obviously did not).
|Umm, yah I fell. I still won an Oscar. I rock!|
So where does that leave me/us?
For the past few months I've been working on a project that is very close to my heart. There have been moments nearly every single day that I have thought about giving up and saying why bother? That I have compared myself to other people with similar concepts and wondered if I was wasting my time. That I almost stifled my voice because I just knew someone somewhere out there was thinking, "who does she think SHE is?". That I ALMOST let my fear of failure stop me from following my heart and pursuing what I know is possible.
The bad news is that today - even as I prepare to put my project out there in a real way for the first time - I am STILL having these thoughts. The good news is...I'M DOING IT ANYWAY. I know I might "fail". I know there are people out there doing the same thing I'm doing, and possibly doing it "better". I know there are people who are reading this post, or seeing my activity on social media and wondering who the HELL I think I am.
I'd love to say I don't care about those things. I'd love to tell old Regina & her minions to kiss my fat ass. I'd really love to say I'm 100% worry free and moving from a place of calm and confidence but I'm not. What matters is that I'm still moving.
So whatever it is you've got inside of you...whether it's an idea, a song, a work of art, or maybe even just a TEXT MESSAGE to someone you've got your eye on - let it go! Let it go! Don't hold it back anymore!!! Rock that outfit! Submit that article! Apply to that job! Post that selfie!
And with that, a shameless (ok, maybe there is a little shame...) plug: