This week I’ve been reflecting on fear and excitement – it’s a fine line between them isn’t it? The body only ever generates adrenaline in response to both emotions and so can’t tell the difference between the two, but the sentient, soulful bit of us sure bloody can.
I’ve felt it keenly this week, as I’ll be at a Fertility Show in London, exhibiting as After the Storm. The nerves are two fold really. Sure, I’m excited beyond measure to be doing the fair – because I’ve been working towards it for months. But, here’s the thing, I very nearly let this opportunity go. Why? And I’m being authentic here – because of my own fear (how many triggers can you get in one, large room eh?) and my own hang ups over whether I’m good enough to do this.
It made me start thinking about how far I’ve come since being told I can’t have children and looking back, I barely recognise the person I was. I kept myself small – I was nice (eugh!) to people that I should’ve told to do one. I’d be hand-wringing when I should have been swinging, because I didn’t want to offend. I’d bite my tongue to stop the well-aimed acidic comment from escaping, just to stop any drama. And looking back I actually feel a bit of revulsion over the way I behaved. But, being kind to me, that was all because of my crippling self-doubt and my overwhelming feelings of never being good enough.
Not that I was ever told this, it was my perception. This realisation has led to a real concerted effort to let this go. It’s something that has dogged me throughout my life and when facing the childless lifestyle that I hadn’t planned for, it ramped up.
If I’m honest, it was never the authentic me. But, with all things that I’ve built and protected over years, it takes an absolute age to break it down again. So, it took a long time to release it all and peel these layers away to get back to who I really felt I was underneath it all.
Since doing that my ability to listen to my gut has increased and I have found that the best barometer for telling whether I’m being authentic is my body. And I know people feel the same, because other people have talked about their own inward cringe factor. Let me give you an example.
I was in a business meeting, and, yes, I was the only woman. The thing is I knew I didn’t fit, not because I was female, but because I’m not particularly corporate…well anyway desperate to fit in at the time, I started to talk like the other members of the meeting. I knew it was inauthentic because I didn’t agree with a word they said, and in fact I didn’t understand half of it. What the hell does ‘maximising the user interface’ mean anyway? Who knows!
The fact that I can remember the meeting and the gibberish, shows my discomfort with my behaviour! If I had been comfortable with how I had behaved, would I remember it? No, of course not. It would melt into the background like 99.9% of all the meetings I attended in my previous life…and that’s the thing, we have these memories at our fingertips for a reason. Not to make us feel bad, but as a reminder of who we really are.
So, the trick is to know your own cringe factor. That’s right, you’ll know when you’re being you and when you’re being anything less than that because you will feel it in your body. The reaction you get will be unique to you, because of the way you feel and can describe it.
But it cuts both ways. When I act authentically the feelings of excitement and empowerment that rise up from my chest are powerful. It’s a mixture of being the best version of me and the pride I feel when I do this, knowing the position I came from. I feel fearless – people might not agree, but they do react to someone exuding the courage of their convictions. Imagine how good that feels!
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