I’ve been trying new things recently, stepping outside of my comfort zone, and observing myself freak out during these situations.
It got me thinking about fear and vulnerability.
A few days ago I went to a private singing lesson.
Singing is not something I do often. Despite being in a choir when I was younger, getting a 1:1 lesson is something I’ve never really done except in front of my mom. Practicing out loud in front of a stranger, I could feel how upset my internal system was that I was not doing it *perfectly*. My face went hot, I avoided eye contact, I felt myself starting to sweat.
It’s a good thing I’ve decided I don’t care if this happens to me (I friggin’ love learning, it’s the best). That doesn’t mean my body knows that, or my insides still don’t spasm. They do — 100%. It’s because we’re all deeply, deeply afraid.
You’re afraid of being vulnerable
You’re scared shitless, and you’ll do everything in your power not to be discovered. You don’t want to be exposed (Imposter syndrome, anyone?). You’re afraid of me seeing through you. Your insecurities. Your flaws. Seeing you’re not ready, prepared, polished.
You’re afraid of being bad at whatever new thing you try.
This fear is preventing us from learning. Being bad is a prerequisite to this. If we are struggling that means we’re trying something new and we should definitely keep going.
But we don’t.
You’re scared, so you make up excuses.
My Dad is currently taking Spanish lessons. This is amazing and quite frankly, badass. He is 65. This shouldn’t matter, but to many people, it does. We all have excuses for why we don’t or won’t do something. Age is one of our faves.
“I can’t do that because I’m [insert age] years old.”
“It’s too late to start that career. I’m 40 after all.”
No. You’re scared.
I’m too old. I’m tired. I’m not feeling well. I won’t know anyone there. I won’t be good at that. I have to clean my house. I have a deadline
Sure, fine, whatever. You can totally clean your house. I won’t deny you that need. I won’t deny you the need to take care of yourself when you are tired and sick, either. But don’t give that to me as though it’s the real reason why you won’t try salsa dancing, scuba diving, learning German, traveling solo, starting your own business, taking singing lessons, or going to an art class, in general.
You won’t do those things because you don’t want to be bad at them. Because you’re scared.
In the mind of our fear, vulnerability = bad.
Being bad at something = scary.
It’s hard to be bad. I get it.
My Dad emailed my brother and I saying that he wish he did better on his recent Spanish quiz. He thought he knew what was going to be on it (so he could do well). Turns out, he was caught off guard.
It’s not his fault that he wants a good grade. We’ve been conditioned to strive for perfection. But we need a serious re-framing if we’re going to live our lives to the fullest in the time we’ve got.
- Vulnerability is part of the human experience. It is inevitable. Everyone has felt it and will feel it in the future. You are not alone.
- People admire bravery in others. If you try something new, people usually say, “Wow. Good for you. That’s so cool.” That’s because it is. You rock. Keep it up.
- Growth comes from a place of discomfort. Ask yourself: “How do I want to live this life?” Is it from a place of safety? Or is it from a place of learning and growth? I know what I’m choosing.
How to move past your fear of being vulnerable
Accept that being bad at something is part of the process of learning and growing.
Learn to recognize moments when you’re stressed that you’re bad at something. Notice you are freaking out and hold compassion for yourself, but push on.
Slowly but surely learn a new skill. Own a new perspective.
Don’t wish your fear of vulnerability away. It’s normal. It’s human. By getting more in touch with what makes us feel vulnerability, we can become more aware, and bit by bit, more powerful.
To live a good life, don’t use fear as your excuse.
Be bold instead.