Yesterday I gave a talk at San Jose State to one of the athletic teams. We talked about the stuff you aren’t supposed to talk about. It was awesome (at least for me!). I showed up and tried, and it turned out well.
I had a light bulb moment afterwards: It hurts way more to not show up in your life than it hurts to actually show up and try.
Yes, it might be really scary. You don’t know what others may think, say, or do; you have no control over their reaction. You might mess up despite the time spent preparing. You might mess up terribly. You might feel embarrassed, scared, worried, afraid. And yet, to not show up in life, to make your life neat, safe, “perfect,” small — that ends up hurting way, way more.
Sitting at home (or wherever you are), telling yourself the reasons why you should avoid the “bad” feelings you’re feeling (scared, nervous, whatever): it does feel “better” to not feel them, whether by pushing them away or not doing the thing. It feels safer, “right,” maybe the way to go so your image will remain untarnished in the event you were to mess up. And every time you sit at home and decide feeling the fear is worse, it’s a weight added to your heart, soul, insides. It’s a little more pressure on that internal dam wall you’ve built.
At the beginning you won’t notice that pressure, that extra weight. At some point you will. Maybe you’ll see the weight, the pressure, for what it is — keeping yourself small. Or maybe you’re like me and you’ll decide the pressure means you’re bad, wrong, weak, and broken and then try harder to not feel anything, which is, in essence, adding more weight and pressure to the dam.
At some point, the dam will crumble and you’ll have to face the remains following the flood. And you’ll survive.
I built that damn dam wall again and again. (And it’s okay if you do.) Crumbling happened, and I was given a clear view. And my status quo was to start building again. Screw the view.
This time, I saw that it hurt to look out, it felt really, really scary. And yet, somehow, in the midst of the pain and fear, there were beauty, possibilities, and life. I was missing it all by building and staying behind the dam.
Yes, on the other side there were rough patches in some spots, and yet building the dam was rough, tough, hard, and a guarantee of pain in staying “safe” (I had been through construction enough times to know that always happened). I could choose the pain I knew (which came without beauty), or I could risk the pain I didn’t know that was already laying beauty at my feet.
This time I risked stepping through the debris of the fallen damn and tiptoed out. And holy shit, it was scary, painful, confusing, and also so incredibly better than I could have imagined. I could breathe. I felt born to do this. And maybe, just maybe, that’s why staying on the other side hurt so much: I was born to live on the other side.