Fear is a funny thing. Not funny-ha-ha-side-splitting-hilarious.
Fear is nothing.
It doesn’t exist in its own right. It’s not a thing.
It’s something that we experience as a result of something else.
There are some fears that are very common.
Some of you will know from my constant Twitterly blatheringsthat in one of my other lives I’m a freelance trainer and facilitator. This means I make my living standing up in front of strangers and talking. And falling over equipment. And spilling things. OK so they don’t pay me for those bits; I throw them in for free because I
am a clumsy idiot like to be entertaining. Cough.
The comedian Jerry Seinfeld said (and I’m quoting very roughly here) that at a funeral, most of the audience would rather be in the coffin than up giving the eulogy, such is the general fear of public speaking.
I learned to not fear it many years ago. In fact, I revel in it.
I must be batshit crazy, right?*
Especially when you consider I also have bouts of Anxiety Disorder.
I must be nuts.
It’s true that being an extrovert helps me do my job.
I like the limelight, I’m an attention hog and I like to talk.**
When I was a kid I was cripplingly shy***. Sure I wanted to be out there performing but I was too terrified to do it. What if something went wrong? What would people think? WHAT IF?!
So I was a shy extrovert, desperate to be centre stage but unable to even get up there to cower behind the curtain.
I’m still that shy kid on the inside.
I still feel anxious.
I’m still extremely
hung-up delicate obsessive sensitive about how other people receive me and my work.
I just don’t let that sensitivity stop me, because I know fear is nothing. It isn’t real.
I’ve taught myself to care less.
It takes practice.
Caring less requires small steps.
Of course, being the clumsy, accident-prone arsehat that I am helps. Nothing cures you of being precious about yourself like some of the dumber shit I’ve done.****
Now I can stand up in front of as many people as you can throw at me, and talk. Tell stories, joke, share, make myself vulnerable.
Because I care less.
I’m still that scared 14 year old on the inside. I’ve just developed MAD SKILLZ that allow me to put myself out there and not give a shit.
You know all those super-confident, socially-adept, amazingly successful people you admire?
They’re all scared 14 year olds on the inside too. They just hide theirs behind mad confident socially-adept skillz.
The journey from shy child to where I am now took a long time and I had to humiliate myself many times to get here. Here’s a snapshot of the things I tell my brain to help me care less:
WHO GIVES A SHIT?!
In a week, will what happens today matter? In a month? A year? No? Then why care now? Stop giving so much of a shit.
DON’T GIVE A FUCK
Will anyone die if something goes wrong? No? Then why do you give a fuck? Relax and jump in.
IT’LL BE OK
The anticipation of an event is usually far worse than the event itself. Unless you’re talking about a bad bout of gastro, or chain sawing off your own foot, in which case YEAH BE SCARED AND WHY THE HELL ARE CUTTING OFF YOUR FOOT, DUDE?!
RISK IT FOR A BISCUIT
Sharing a little of your own vulnerability gives permission to other people to do the same and magic happens when people are open and vulnerable. Go on, take the risk. It’ll be worth it.
FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT, BABY
Nobody can see that scared 14 year old inside you. Only you know how terrified you are. Sooner or later what you do you become so go do!
IT DOESN’T MATTER
Cup of concrete and a straw, baby. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t matter. The world will keep turning.
Don’t let fear rob you of your joy and hold you back. I trained my brain to care less, and you can too.
Are there things you’re scared to do?
What’s stopping you?
What’s stopping you?
* OK no need to answer that.
** A common comment on my school reports. PRESCIENT TEACHERS, PEOPLE!
*** Being shy shouldn’t be confused with being introverted, although there may be a natural correlation. Introverts prefer to not be “out there” socially. Being shy or confident can apply to either style of social style.
**** Read a random sample of my blog if you need to see evidence.