Here’s a secret about some of us getting back out there.
In relationships, jobs, opportunities, experiences, or friendships…
We may be extraordinarily confident in some areas. Like able to walk in a room head held high, eyes spanning the room, able to make any and all eye contact.
But here’s the thing.
Depends on the People in the Room
For people who’ve been wounded, to the point where we’ve never really told anyone our true wounds, some rooms are daunting.
The fear of letting someone in. Being emotionally vulnerable is probably the scariest thing on my radar. I physically train five days a week to ensure my body is able to hold heavy weight. To move, maneuver (although often not well. What is right, straight?… I dunno). But I do my best.
The only thing I truly have no idea how to protect is my heart.
I Haven’t Put Myself In Situations Where My Heart Can Be Wounded. For Years.
I chose to close my heart off because it was the safest thing for me to do. It was unconscious, initially. And now, stepping back and attempting to get out of that protective mode can be daunting.
And, some rooms have a lot at stake. People, relationships, or opportunities of which we are excited to strengthen, or perhaps even begin.
So just walking in. Just opening the door. Is a huge step.
Opening That First Door
I’ve recently had two such moments. One social, one professional.
I was excited, and scared, at the same time. For both.
For the social. I was thrilled just to be invited. I finally felt like a “cool” kid. At the same time, I didn’t really know anyone. I mean I knew about 30 faces, but I didn’t really know anyone well. I didn’t have a wingman.
Like in Top Gun, Maverick had Goose. I had no Goose in the situation. No one to walk in with, no one by my side. No one to turn to if I got nervous.
I almost didn’t go. The faces I had hoped I could walk up to, I didn’t feel confident in at the time. I wasn’t sure if they even wanted to talk to me.
I went back and forth all day saying I would and wouldn’t go. Back and forth, back and forth. So I decided not to go. It was sealed.
I wasn’t going.
Then something kept itching at me. Like hitting me on the back. My subconscious was pushing me to get out there. What is the worst that could happen? The script went back and forth for hours, creating a script that was anything but appealing.
Last minute, I decided to go anyway. What’s the most I could lose?
I Was a Kid on Her First Day of Kindergarten
I walked in. Opened the door. Took a breath. Scanned the room. Immediately I saw faces. Faces I knew, but not well. Instantly I went into overdrive. I talked to person after person, some I recognized, some I didn’t.
I didn’t seek the faces I had hoped to see. I wasn’t sure they wanted to speak to me. Though I was disappointed, I moved on. Head high, I kept talking and meeting new faces.
When it was time to go. I knew. I opened the door. Proud, yet disappointed, at the same time.
I Knew The Way I Moved About In The Room Had Changed From Before
I had no idea before this experience, how much I had, and had needed, to protect my heart. I had been protecting myself for so long, I didn’t even recognize it.
Prior to my wounds, I moved about the world freer, not so afraid of hurt. Until that night, I was unaware of how many shields I had up, how thick they were, and how constant.
I Was Proud That I Just Had the Courage to Show Up
But like Cinderella with her pumpkin, the clock had struck midnight, and the carriage turned back into a pumpkin. And the next day, there was no glass slipper. Just my Nikes. Ready to be laced up again.
And this time it was for me professionally to get out there. Again, self doubt crept in. Partly because I didn’t know many people, but also because I was lacing up golf cleats.
I didn’t know this group, and I certainly didn’t know how to golf. But I took another breath, and I just went. Head high, smile on, handshake strong, eyes bright.
Days later, I was asked to join another team, citing my energy “unrivaled,” mainly I think because I’m from Boston, and well, we are a whole other breed.
After bumping through both my social and professional experience, though they weren’t perfect, I pat myself on the back for walking into two situations where I started with no confidence– all I had was my meek courage to guide me through.
And, most importantly, I wasn’t covering my heart. And although I didn’t get away scot free, I learned to just begin, not hide, not hold back. Just take that step.
We Always Regret the Chances We Don’t Take
I’d rather trip, fall, and fail than never try. The best chapters of life are written by those who dare to start, stumble, and grow. Sometimes, the world sees in us what we fail to see in ourselves. I may not be the picture of elegance, but I persist.
And I’ll continue to show up with my timid heart and transform it, piece by piece.