Turn on the spotlight

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I read an article this week by author and life coach, Martha Beck, about dealing with self – consciousness. For many of us, the phenomenon of being “in the spotlight” is a terrifying place to be.

Reading it reminded me of moments when I have shied away from experiences for fear of being too visible. Realizing the potential for epic embarrassment, I chose to stay quiet and hide.

I suppose I understand intellectually that taking risks and trying new things makes life richer in the present and spicier when lost in the reverie of recollection. Emotionally though it just feels way too…risky. The funny reality is I am rather skilled at embarrassing myself in the mildest of conditions!

Take for instance this morning when I came home with coffee and doughnuts for the landscapers working on our yard in unseasonably cold and wet weather. “Quieres café?” I asked, and just as I was feeling impressed with my generosity and rudimentary Spanish, I looked down to see two buttons of my shirt popped open exposing my bra.

A different time, while in college, I wrote a poem in a creative writing class. I sat in my seat squirming as I listened to others read their work. They all sounded so poetic and accomplished. And in those unfathomably elongated pauses between readings when I wondered if “getting it over” or extending the anticipation was better,  I knew everyone could hear my heart thumping out of my chest.

It was a scary proposition to read a poem in front of my class. What if the other students didn’t “get it?” What if the words I wrote didn’t make sense to anyone, or what if they laughed at me?

Well that is pretty much exactly what happened. It was a wretched experience, and I hated every minute of it. But I survived. And in return I have a memory of being brave, and the satisfaction of trying despite my paralyzing fear.

This is a good reminder for me as I near the last bit of graduate school and attempt to create a new career. It too is a scary proposition. But I would rather try and fail then dwell in the world of “what if” and regret later on.

If an opportunity feels scary and makes one’s heart pump, it’s likely worth pursuing. I once heard a great actor on a talk show speak of the stage fright he felt every time he appeared on stage. But he used this fear as fuel, as energy to step into the spotlight, and transform his fear into love…the true definition of alchemy.

And if all the world truly is a stage, then it seems worth it to me to walk hand-in-hand with the discomfort, risk for wardrobe malfunction, and walk boldly into the spotlight no matter how self-conscious we feel.

As Martha Beck suggests, we can ask ourselves the “universal question” which is simply, “So?” What if we fail, look stupid, get laughed at, shake, turn red, or fall down? So?

The truth is most people don’t hear our pounding hearts because theirs are doing the exact same thing. So go out there and break a leg!

Here’s a link to the full article on http://www.marthabeck.com.  http://marthabeck.com/2014/01/cure-self-consciousness

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