“You should never hesitate to trade your cow for a handful of magic beans.” ~Tom Robbins
Well, it’s been a month since I last posted here – which is a lot longer than I ever intended to wait. But, you know, sometimes you have to go out and live a little in order to have the raw material necessary to produce worthwhile creative work. Or, at least I do.
And so, I’d say that’s my excuse this month – I’ve been living the hell out of life and having a damn good time doing so.
Also working a lot. And laying the groundwork for some major changes – both personally and professionally.
Which has been fabulous and fun and ridiculously exhausting.
But now, the dust of this past month’s shenanigans is finally starting to settle and I find myself face-to-face with so much of what I’ve been craving and calling out for and asking from the Universe – it’s honestly a little overwhelming.
In the best of ways, of course.
I’ve been given so many gifts this past month:
The opportunity to expand my business and be fully and completely self-sustaining in my professional life.
Support and encouragement for my growing business from several unexpected sources – as well as from those who have been wholeheartedly in my corner since day one. (Hi guys!)
The freedom to write more often, carve out more time for creative pursuits, and potentially have my work published (somewhere other than this here humble website).
The chance to collaborate with friends and colleagues on exciting if somewhat-hypothetical-at-this-point projects and reach a larger audience in order to positively affect more lives than I ever could on my own.
Three consecutive days sharing delicious, homemade tacos with a dear friend while discussing several of these hypothetical projects in detail, geeking out about astrology, and repeatedly laughing ourselves to tears.
The experience of dating a handful of very lovely men, and being respected and adored and appreciated in the process. Finding out that some men do still open doors (to both cars and buildings) and buy dinner and plan ACTUAL DATES – which are things I’d heard about but never really believed in until now.
And about a million reminders of why I am just so effing lucky in my life, and why gratitude should be my permanent state of being.
Which it has been for the most part in recent weeks.
But also, I’ve been surprised by a little something called Fear of Success. And its close relative, Foreboding Joy. *
Fear of success, you say? Why would anyone be afraid to succeed?
Because success asks you to change, to become a better version of yourself. to grow and learn and embrace what’s unfamiliar, to step outside of your comfort zone. And this is a little terrifying sometimes. (All of the times, really.)
And foreboding joy? Why would joy make us fearful and uneasy?
Because to truly experience joy, you must step into vulnerability, allow your heart to be broken open, and risk the possibility of heartbreak. Which, again, forces you outside of your comfort zone, asking you to welcome and lean into uncertainty.
But I’ve decided that staying small, staying comfortable, staying safe no longer feeds my soul the way it needs to be fed. Ordering my joy with a side of “What If Something Bad Happens?” no longer resonates with the feeling I’m trying to create in my body and in my life.
In this article, Russell Bishop talks about the idea that, in reality, our comfort zones have very little to do with actually being comfortable. Comfort in this case is really more about familiarity, because even if your current circumstances don’t necessarily make you happy, stepping out into the unknown and taking a risk still feels like the less comfortable option.
But guess what? Your soul craves discomfort. That’s how it evolves and transforms. That’s how it makes waves in the Universe.
“Change means movement. Movement means friction. Only in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract world can movement or change occur without that abrasive friction of conflict.” ~Saul Alinsky
Friction creates heat, heat catalyzes change. And discomfort is really a kind of psychological friction, the interplay between your ego’s desire to cling to what’s familiar and your soul’s desire – its need, really – to reach out toward what’s new and different and challenging – and potentially life-changing.
And it might surprise you to find out that the very things you’ve been dreaming about are also the most fear-inducing things, those that push you the furthest outside your own comfort zone and bring you into intimate contact with intense, terrifying levels of vulnerability.
Until you find yourself thinking, Wait, I wanted this. Why am I so effing scared?
Which is what I’ve been doing a lot over the past few days. Because seriously you guys, there’s some really good stuff happening in my life right now.
Really good stuff.
Which, yay! But also, cue fear and anxiety and anticipation of shoes dropping.
My solution in those moments of overwhelming, paralyzing, holy-hell-this-is-so-great-what-happens-when-it-ends fear? Gratitude. And lots of it.
As usual, I’ve sort of misplaced the point of this post. But I suppose what I’m trying to say is this:
Dream big, but be prepared for your own dreams to scare the shit out of you when they arrive.
And be prepared for your ego to resist a little bit – or a lot bit – when it realizes that getting what you wanted will ask you to be better and to take even greater responsibility for yourself and to get comfortable – very comfortable – with discomfort.
And then be grateful. Like REALLY grateful. Actively, verbally, enthusiastically grateful.
Because the best method I know for disarming fear and removing any sense of foreboding from your experience of joy is consistently practicing gratitude.
Copious amounts of gratitude.
Also tacos. (Hi, Erin!)
*Foreboding joy is term coined by Brene Brown to describe the challenge of fully embracing moments of pure joy without immediately tainting them with fear of something bad happening, sadness about the inevitable end of the joyful moment, or wondering to ourselves, “What’s the catch?” She describes this concept in detail in her book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Read it. It’s awesome.