(I was asked to write a short post, many years ago… today I found it again….I thought it might be good to post it here)
I remember it well, as a child, 11 year old, entering a supermarket with my mother. She needs a coin for the shopping-cart and hands me a money bill. She expects me to go up to the lady behind the counter to ask for change. My mother looks at me. I look at the lady behind the counter. I freeze. I can’t do it. I’m simply too scared. I don’t leave my mother’s side.
Why? Did I think she was going to yell at me? Laugh at me? Turn into a green slimy monster and bite my head off? No. Up to this day I can’t re- ally understand what it is that scared me back then. But I do know I have had many such moments. And I still do. Not a week goes by without having this fear.
It’s a fear of performing, showing myself, in front of others. A fear to fail. A fear so bad I’d rather fail by not even trying to succeed. I gave up on a running match a few meters before the finish, pretending to be too tired. I refused to be in family pictures. I refused to act in a school play, and made a fool of myself. I refused to go up to strangers at dinner parties when I bitterly wanted to be able to network. I refused to learn how to read music, and study, but wanted to be a musician. I refused to start schools and I refused to finish schools. I refused to be a writer using my dyslexia as a great excuse, my favourite tool to strengthen my reasoning for refusal.
Sometimes I think that I refused to start or finish so many times that finally I could only refuse refusal itself.
And then I let go. Lost the weight that was holding me down and lifted off. I’ve been a musician and had a comedy act. I present concepts and strategies to deadly serious looking boards of directors. I give keynotes at international conferences, work and teach at schools around the world, write and give life to many networks.
What changed? I simply started refusing to pretend I am not scared. I re- fuse pretending to know everything. I refuse to pretend I don’t need help. I refuse to pretend to be stronger than I am. And that changes everything. Being vulnerable made me strong. But I am still scared.