June Balance: Moving Past the Unknown and Fear of Failing

I’ve been thinking about this a lot in the past month (and a little afraid to say write it out loud), but some of the “why” fell into place during an evening last week as I was out walking the dog and listening to the Ted Radio Hour podcast’s recent episode “Nudge”. For the last couple years I’ve really fallen in love with podcasts. Some of my favorites are the TED Radio Hour and Stuff You Should Know. Does anyone else love podcasts? What are some of your favorites or recommendations?

Ok, let’s move back on target – fear of the unknown and failure. This all started a few months back when C and I were discussing our 5 and 10 year plans… and because of the people we are (weird and never questioning it wouldn’t include the other) it centered most around what we want to be doing, living, and where we want our careers to be.  For the longest time I’ve know I want to work for myself… eventually, or at least to be able to work from anywhere. For the record, I’m currently in a job and position I absolutely love (employee/corporate wellness) and have no near plans to leave it. However, in less than 10 years (gonna give myself a very large cushion), I’d like to be not tied to an office so we can travel, explore, and visit/work close to family when we want. With my niece and nephew now small and growing quick, I’d like to be able to visit for a few weeks without having to take PTO.

Now that I’ve put that plan and goal out into the universe, the fear sets in… well not necessarily fear, but as I made more and more steps in the direction to build my “brand”, which is ME if I’m working for myself, at times I found myself more sluggish or only tentatively engaged. I’d look at myself and practically yell, “you know what you want, why aren’t you working to go out and reach for it!?” So I really took a step back and looked at what I was doing. I had signed up for a few different trainings and the Food Bloggers Summit; I was feeling inspired by all of the individuals working on their own blogs and food products, but a few days after that initial inspiration the old feelings would creep back in.

I stepped back again and began to look at other “things” I had already achieved and why did I go for those but was dragging my feet on this? Why?  – MY LIFE HAS BEEN EASY!! And I’ve been very LUCKY. My race, upbringing, economic situation, and education set me up for advantage from the beginning. Wow, that kind of slapped me in the face. I rarely ever failed but didn’t necessarily attempt something if I wasn’t at least 75% sure I could succeed. Overly cautious to the extreme? From the outside looking in, yeah, I’ve hustled – worked hard in school (although that too came easy), got my Master’s so I would be a more “hirable” candidate (I wanted a MS and love learning, but I knew what to do to look good), found a job in an area I liked (and had the good fortune to be picky with that too), I was brave and traveled to study abroad for school, I moved twice without knowing but two people in the state. From all outward appearances I had been brave and branched out of my comfort zone. How small was that comfort zone? Yet,everything seemed like fairly safe bets. Starting a new business venture however is/was not a safe bet.

From the outside my demeanor and “everything will work out” attitude felt like a complete fraud. Although I do like to “let the universe take it”, I realized that with this entirely new venture and future goal I was/am petrified of failure. What if I don’t succeed? How will I recover and how will my family and friends view me? But if I don’t try my hardest, I’ll always have the excuse that “I didn’t give it everything I had and if I did, I’m sure it would have turned out differently.”

While listening to the Nudge episode, Carol Dweck discussed how from a young age we’re praised for achievement and getting the right answer rather than encouraging the process and praising the continued growth. Yep, that hit home and made sense, but the next voice of Reshma Sujani came almost too close for comfort – we don’t raise girls to be brave and take risks, we raise them to be perfect. Perfect is crippling. We have been taught and raised to never show our failure – which eventually becomes not trying or only staying within our little bubble of what we know we can already do. In the media there’s a physical image we’re supposed to fit but it goes way beyond that. The expectations are so deeply engrained that by the time we’re women, many times it’s too late and we don’t ask for that raise, take a new job, or branch out on our own.

Am I doomed stuck from the beginning? Thankfully, no. I know where that risk-taker needs to step up and take charge.

Either I will achieve my dreams or fail beautifully – and either way I’m going to grow.

Peace and love,

Ingrid

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