Pushing past the comfort zone and facing 3 fears
Building a courageous mindset takes practice. Constant, repeated, and persistent practice.
As Mary Schmich, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, once wrote "Do one thing every day that scares you."
I’m not quite ready to commit that much. Mostly because the idea of putting something else on my daily to-do is more than I can handle right now. Instead, I recently chose to do three things that were outside my comfort zone.
I went back to writing my manuscript on female superheroes. This is something I have struggled with for the last five years. I intended for my thesis to be a starting point, but impostor syndrome is real.
Each time I attempted to write, to outline, to just start, I froze. I don't feel educated enough, expert enough, valid enough to be writing on this topic. I fear the criticisms, the reviews, the responses. I fear that my own insecurity will be validated.
But I finally began writing. And once I did, the book's structure became clear and the ideas began to flow. Instead of focusing on writing a book, I focused on the class I have taught the last two years. I asked myself - if I didn't use someone else's book as the basis of the course, how would I teach this class? How would it be organized? What themes would emerge? What would I want the students to walk away with?
That was all I needed to get things rolling. Impostor syndrome still sneaks in, but at least I’m writing.
For my second fear, I arranged a tour at an adult day care facility for myself and my partner. My partner has Huntington's Disease, an incurable, hereditary brain disorder. He's no longer able to drive and his cognitive functions are beginning to decline.
Because I work outside the home, he’s left with no one but the dogs for large chunks of his day. And because I am an introvert, I generally need alone time once I get home from work. This isn't healthy for such a social man.
But making the move to look into and enroll in a daycare facility, even if for just one day a week, meant facing our reality head-on. Accepting his decline, making plans for the future that is ahead of us, is terrifying. It was so much easier when I could go about my day like everything was like it had always been.
That denial left me unprepared. I'm now scrabbling to understand the options ahead of us, the red tape we must work through, the resources available (or not). But I am surprised by the relief I feel in making these choices and plans. There are aspects of his disease that will always be unknown and that I cannot control. But being proactive in planning for what we can has alleviated much of the fear. I’m still overwhelmed, but not nearly as much.
I grounded my son. Yeah, I know, that sounds ridiculous. But here’s the thing…
I am a divorced mom. His father is very much still a daily presence in his life. And for 12 years I have lived with the fear that my son would one day decide his life would be better if he lived with his dad and never saw me again.
It’s a real possibility as a divorced parent. I’ve seen this happen to people I love. It fucking sucks.
And since my son is a surly teen who is closer to his dad at this stage of his life than he is to me, the fear has intensified.
But his grades were on the decline. Not because of his ability. But because he wasn’t turning in his homework. I took sometime to think through my response, come up with a reasonable plan, and then I waited four days to finally talk to the kiddo about it.
When I did talk to him, I also shared how scared I was to put this consequence into place and why. Thankfully, he’s a pretty great person under those hormones and we’ve had a close relationship over the years.
He understood where I was coming from and took the consequences seriously, He didn’t argue or debate (pretty much not typical of him). He actually acted like a grown-up and accepted he had screwed up and owned it.
It was such a relief, but I really hope he gets his head on straight and I don’t have to keep reminding him to be a responsible person. I know, way too much to ask.
The outcome on all of this? I’m not sure I have built that courageous mindset yet. Going to need more practice. But I am far more comfortable addressing issues with my son and with my partner’s needs. And I’m writing. Seems like a few wins to me.
Now onto that daily practice...