Friday, July 19, 2019

Exclamation Points and Embracing Fear

Earlier this week, I was writing an email as I do. As I wrote, I realized what I was doing as I was editing. Y'all, I say this not in a humble brag way, but in a truth I just know, my grammar and command of words is pretty impeccable. I don't have to spend all the time "fixing" that stuff because it's just there. Anyway. I say that to say that wasn't what was taking me so long. I was taking forever to evaluate my punctuation. Does this need more exclamation points? Are they going to think I have a poor tone? Does this period work okay here?

What. The. Heck.

I've read articles on this, so it's not a new concept, but it was weird to be in a space where I realized the unhealthy nature of what I was doing. Can a gal just email? The answer I had unintentionally told myself was "Nope."

the office jim GIF

I spent last weekend leading an emerging leaders program for my sorority. I cannot tell you what an empowering experience it is to work with women who are the future. As I facilitated, I saw so much of myself in those seats. There were my fears, my concerns, and my own quest for perfection. Then, there also my strengths, my passion, and my want for change, too. As I spoke to them, so much of what I say is the stuff I wish I would have learned sooner, but eventually figured out, but also still kind of struggle with sometimes. It was a reminder of how I can help and give to others, but also a great chance to reflect on how I help and give to myself.

work good job GIF by Libby VanderPloeg

As I reflected on the simple task of sending that email, I realized it was about so much more. There are the literal exclamation points I wrestle with far too often, and then, it's about the metaphorical ones, too. It's not dwelling in the space of details that don't matter. It's about not giving space to the stuff I cannot control, and no matter how hard I want to, it's not going to work out for me. It's figuring out what actually fills my cup and giving space to that, and it's minimizing and eliminating the stuff that drains. It's about having those wants and dreams and visions and actually making them become more than that.

Earlier this week I sent a two sentence email. It was two sentences and it was two periods. I stopped myself from doing the third and fourth and fifth review of how it "read" and sent it anyway. It was letting go of the strangest, yet realest, of fears.

britney spears GIF

One of the messages I share at the institute is instead of thinking of the question "What would you do if you were not afraid?" thinking about "What would you do even if you were afraid?" The reality is the fear just cannot go away, so it's a matter of learning to live with it, overcome it, and thrive.

For me, there are risks I need to take. Sometimes I don't give space or time or energy to things because it means I can't have fear. It means I can't have failure. It means I can't have letdown because I haven't put anything into the experience. However, it also means that I cut myself off from the reward. Rather than putting those ideas and actions into the universe, I just review and ruminate and wait.

I'm giving space this weekend to intentionally dreaming and planning. I'm letting myself go into and fully be into that space. I'm not treating it as an afterthought, as a draft message, as a "Well, that would be nice someday" footnote. I'm hitting send for me, so we'll see what happens next y'all.

And send.