How I Silenced My Internal Judge & Became a Writer

How I Silenced My Internal Judge & Became a Writer

Charlotte: “I just don’t know what I’m supposed to be.” Bob: “You’ll figure that out. The more you know who you are, and what you want, the less you let things upset you.” -Lost in Translation, 2003 One of the hardest things I’ve ever done is give a piece of my writing to my parents. It sounds so inconsequential, so small, and yet, it was one of the many steps that I took to feel sane, to feel okay, and to – yes – actually keep writing. But why did I immediately want to recoil as soon as I gave them my work? Why would anybody? It’s simple: judgement. I’m a writer now and I’ve got a book coming out. But the thing is, my book, just a year ago, was simply one blank document, staring back at me. A Flashback Let’s go back. I’m looking around for an empty carrel in the atrium of the University of Chicago business school. I sit down – Adele is the cue: it’s time to work. I’m at the computer and the cursor blinks in front of me. There’s a single Word document open. And then, an imaginary buffet of thoughts start hitting me. “You can’t write without a PhD.” “You’re not even that good of a writer.” “There’s so many other things you could be doing.” “Why are you doing this when you could just sit and watch Orange is the New Black?” “I should probably get a job.” On and on these thoughts go until I feel numb to the task. I’m going to die in this chair, I thought....
5 Ways to Overcome a Fear of Confrontation

5 Ways to Overcome a Fear of Confrontation

“This above all; to thine own self be true.” ~ William Shakespeare I am so non-confrontational that the thought of saying anything to anyone that might rub them the wrong way has always given me instant anxiety. I have suffered from this syndrome of wanting to keep the peace at all costs since childhood. And now that I am just a couple of years shy of 50, I am really sick and tired of carrying around this burden of having to keep the peace. I want to speak my truth! Since I have been acting the other way—I mean, hiding my truth—for the greater part of my life, it’s not so easy to just switch gears. But by doing a lot of personal work around this issue, I have started to learn some helpful techniques for overcoming my powerful fear of confrontation.  1. Ask Yourself: Is it really a confrontation? What I discovered about myself is that I tend to put any little disagreement or difference of opinion into the category of a confrontation. This makes the encounter a huge deal, instead of maybe just a normal conversation. Recently I was at a meeting where I didn’t agree with the ideas that were being discussed. I didn’t say anything at the time because I was afraid to go against the tide of majority opinion, but it bothered me so much that I decided I had to say something at the next meeting. As I was speaking my truth, it occurred to me that it really wasn’t a confrontation at all. Instead, it was a discussion of ideas. And discussing...
Overcoming the Fear of Giving Presentations

Overcoming the Fear of Giving Presentations

According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy. – Jerry Seinfeld There was a time when I couldn’t have agreed more. But I realised that my fear of giving presentations was really stopping me from fulfilling my potential and I had to do something about it. I had been recommended for promotion in my job in IT. I had a great track record, enviable feedback from peers and customers and had attained all the technical achievements that were required to move up the ladder and gain a substantial increase in pay and recognition. So what was stopping me? In order to gain that promotion, I would have to present my case before a board of executives, but the very idea made me feel physically ill. I had struggled for years with panic and anxiety, and as soon as I pictured myself in front of those people, I could feel all the old symptoms rising up: the sweaty palms, the racing heart, the dry mouth. Over the years I had found ways to cope with most of the anxieties that affected me on a day-to-day basis, but public speaking was still unthinkable to me. It was something I was going to have to face if I wanted to get on in my career, but I knew that I was going to need help to get over this major hurdle. I decided to do...
What Carolina Panthers’ Dance Team Auditions Taught Me About My Power

What Carolina Panthers’ Dance Team Auditions Taught Me About My Power

Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. – Epictetus I stood in line with 150 other girls who wanted the same thing I did—a spot on the TopCats dance team to cheer on National Football League’s Carolina Panthers from the sidelines. Nineteen and 21-year-olds listened to tryout music in their earphones and spun their perfect, spray tanned, sequin adorned bodies into pirouettes as they practiced their first-round routines. They appeared as though they had been dancing their entire lives unlike me who had only taken jazz classes one month prior to auditions. This observation simultaneously scared me and made me curious. I decided to explore the latter by asking the girl in front of me how long she had been dancing. “Since I was four,” she replied. What Am I Doing? What the heck am I doing? I can’t compete with these girls. In an instant, I went from thinking I could make the team to knowing I wouldn’t get past the first round. I tried repeatedly to swallow my fear, but it stubbornly stayed stuck in my throat. Though I’d never been a dancer, I always loved dancing. I dance around the house, in the car, in the park and on the beach. I dance everywhere I go, and it is this love of dancing that encouraged me to give the TopCats a go. I didn’t care that I wasn’t a trained dancer—until that moment in line when it dawned on me that I was approaching 30, my outfit lacked sparkle, and I didn’t have on the proper dance...
How a Trip to Indonesia Taught Me to be Bold

How a Trip to Indonesia Taught Me to be Bold

“To travel is worth any cost or sacrifice.” – Elizabeth Gilbert Five years ago, I took one of the boldest actions of my life. I traveled halfway across the world to Ubud, Indonesia alone. In June 2008, I was 27 years old and had never left United States soil despite a constant longing to. A combination of fear and comfort held me hostage in familiarity—until, however, I finished Elizabeth Gilbert’s bestselling novel, Eat. Pray. Love. It chronicled the author’s adventures through Italy, India and Indonesia as she sought to “find herself” after a divorce. The book’s vivid descriptions of Indonesia’s rich culture and lush countryside converged with my imagination of ornate wood-carvings, colorful temples and sprawling rice paddies. It was this convergence that left no question about where my first trip abroad would be to once I mustered up enough courage to go. And whenever I decided to go, I wanted go alone—just like Elizabeth Gilbert. I let the thought of traveling by myself to an unknown distant land linger in my mind for a few weeks to see if my inner voice would talk me out of the adventure I considered taking. And to be completely honest, part of me hoped it would. More work would go into facing my fears than succumbing to them. Did I really want to work? It wasn’t long after asking myself this question that my inner voice answered, “yes.” Facing fear and buying a ticket to Indonesia So, three weeks after finishing the book, I took a leap and purchased a plane ticket to Ubud, Indonesia without anyone’s consultation but my own....
How to Dream Bigger in Spite of Fear

How to Dream Bigger in Spite of Fear

In July of 2012, I decided I wasn’t dreaming big enough. I attended a conference full of people doing amazing things for themselves, for charity, for their families… And I felt an incredible sense of inadequacy. Inadequate because what I felt inside wasn’t matching the actions of my outsides, and all these amazing people I was meeting were showing me that it could be done. My heart was overflowing with emotion, compassion and eagerness; I was just so scared to harness it for fear of rejection or failure. In July, I decided to stop letting fear dictate my inaction, and instead, I began to let it fuel me to take more action. My big dream that I’ve been working to make a reality ever since is detailed at the bottom of this post. Please read on to check out how my refusal to listen to fear is going to fuel me as I gather charity donations across North America, and how you can help inspire hope into thousands of people who want to give up. But first, I want to help you overcome your own fears that are holding you back from achieving an epic reality. I think that we all get caught up in the fear of big dreams because when they fail, they hurt so much more than the smaller dreams. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been crushed and paralyzed by fear way more times than I have by rejection or unachieved dreams. I like to think of fear as an emotional recreation of Carrie’s mother. Remember that movie? Yeah, the one with all the...