“Do the thing that scares you.”
And I don’t mean, “Oh I’m terrified of spiders so I should just go jump in a spider pit.” That’s different. That’s torture. Or sadomasochism. Or just BAD.
What I mean is that many times we hide from the things in our life that require courage. Or perhaps we don’t necessarily hide from it, but we ignore it. And boy, are we good at ignoring things!
It’s easier to ignore what scares you. That’s what your parents tell you to do about the monsters under the bed and the scary clown at the circus. Just close your eyes and go to sleep. Or turn your head and pretend he’s not there.
For me the scary thing that I’ve been ignoring and avoiding isn’t spiders or creepy clowns or monsters under my bed (although those sound much more manageable than what I’m actually dealing with), rather I’m scared of putting myself out there for my career. I love film. I’m good at making videos. Because of YouTube I’ve had to learn how to be everything on a production team and more than anything how to brand myself. But I haven’t done “traditional film” since college, as I’ve only been able to find jobs in sports webcasting and educational curriculum and promotional videos in my hometown since graduating. I live in a small town. We don’t exactly make a lot of feature films. Liberty University has had their hand in some feature work, but I’m very out of their loop and haven’t had a chance to work on any of those productions. So basically I feel really out of practice in my “traditional film” skills.
But my friend Alanna asked if I wanted to volunteer at a casting call for a film that she would be working on later in the summer. Essentially I’d be helping corral the thousand or so people that would come out for the movie’s open call, and I’d get the opportunity to meet several important people on the production and network and maybe even pitch myself for a position on the production. So what’s so bad with that? A pretty nice hook-up, right?
Absolutely! Except I’m very self-conscious about my people skills. And this would require A LOT of people skills to do both the job I was volunteering for (I’m pretty sure I talked to 800 people that day) and my personal job of networking while there. I’m also an introvert so I can only interact with so many people before my brain melts. (I definitely reached melting point that day!) But mostly, it’s a lot easier for me to NOT go. It was a two and half hour drive. I’d be missing church. I could think of a hundred other things I could be doing that day. And it would be easier to not go than to go. So why go?
It’s not that I didn’t want to network and work on a feature film for a day. I absolutely did! I knew once I got there, it would probably be all right. If I just embraced my awkward silliness when talking to people, I could probably win them over with a laugh eventually. I can be pretty endearing when I want to be. But it’s the getting there. The deciding to go that’s difficult for me. Once I’m there, I stick to it and make it work. I might be MISERABLE, but I don’t quit. I don’t leave.
I did that once as a teenager when I was at a student government conference. It was the last day of the conference, and kids were arguing uselessly over whether or not to pass a prostitution bill, and I was really sick so left a little early and went back to my hotel room with a few of my other classmates. Our teacher was SO ANGRY. I’d never had a teacher or adult that angry and disappointed with me before. It was horrifying. So I don’t quit once I’ve started something anymore. Instead, the problem is always getting there in the first place for me.
I’m a last minute bail out kind of girl. If I’m utterly miserable with the decision to do something out of my comfort zone, sometimes I’ll change my mind at the last possible second. Especially if it’s a situation where I don’t have any definitive connections to whomever I’ll be working with or helping out. But that’s not a very nice thing to do. And I SHOULD do the things that scare me!
But why? Why not bail out or never even agree to doing something that makes me uncomfortable in the first place? Why do what scares you?
Because it makes you a better person. You prove to yourself and others that you can commit to something (even something you don’t want to do) and follow through with it.
It makes you a tougher person. You took on something uncomfortable. You did the thing that you didn’t think you could do. That you didn’t want to do. But you did it anyway. You have to realize that you’re tougher than you think. That you’re different than you believed. You’re more than you gave yourself credit for!
It makes you a happier person. When you’ve done the thing that you don’t want to do and are scared of doing, you feel far more accomplished than anything normal or comfortable.
It makes you realize that there’s more to you than you imagined before. I might be self-conscious about my people skills and introversion and rusty film skills, but I slayed that casting call on Sunday! It turned out differently than I had imagined, but then I’d imagined the worst-case scenarios and probably not-even-possible scenarios so it had to be better than that. But now I can feel more confident in myself to do something like it and even something a little more daunting because I made it through this one scary situation. It’s like stepping-stones across a raging river. It’s slow going but still possible to cross. So here I am, one step closer to the other side of the river!