For Real Though, Dreams are Hard
Serious question here: Why aren’t these fitspiration memes cheering me up? Why am I not some living, breathing Dove commercial feeling beautiful and content in my own skin? What am I doing wrong that I don’t have empowerment bursting out of my every pore from the moment I wake up till the moment my head hits the pillow at night?
Seriously, how am I supposed to empower anyone else if I don’t feel empowered myself?
Sometimes I try to hype myself up, like – You are a female entrepreneur in a male dominated field! Feel awesome about that!
Then I try to think about inspirational maxims . . .
“Follow your heart!”
“Live your dreams!”
And then I sing Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off to myself in hopes that something will catch and I’ll be an empowerment machine!
But the voice in my mind trying to inspire me looks a little less like a happy young pop singer and a little more like . . .
How on Earth am I supposed to know if I’m doing it right?? What happens if I take this giant leap of faith and I just fall on my face?
And that is why life is not like a Dove commercial.
Because most people’s dreams don’t exist in a vaccuum. The manifestation of most dreams, including my own, relies on other people. We are social animals. We depend on each other. My dream to change culture by teaching people that they are worth fighting for depends entirely on whether or not people want to jump on my dream wagon with me.
Some people do, and then I’m feeling all happy and in my flow, and I think – OK, maybe there’s something to be said for following your heart and living your dreams! This might actually work!
But then, some people don’t like my dream wagon. And instead of being all . . .
I’m more like . . .
Look, I know this is nothing new. Starting your own business is scary! There is so much risk involved!
But the risk that most people talk about is the financial risk. Not many people talk about the risk of constantly being vulnerable in front of EVERYONE, and that is simply The. Worst.
I try to put up some walls to guard myself from feeling totally vulnerable 100% of the time, but I can only have this conversation . . .
Acquaintance: How’s Lions Krav Maga going?
Me: It’s going awesome! Everything is exciting and totally under control and I feel good and confident!
. . . so many times before I want to puke all over my own lack of authenticity. The more appropriate answer to that question would be
Even though I value authenticity, it can be effing hard sometimes! I catch myself sometimes faking it till I make it rather than just being myself. Just yesterday I posted this image in a Lions Krav Maga Facebook event:
I mean, that’s all fine and good, but there’s nothing about that photo that feels real to me. Quite frankly, I don’t relate to it at all. I literally have never had those words run through my mind ever. If you have, then more power to you! But why did I post that image? It didn’t come from a place of authenticity at all.
Honestly, if I were talking to a friend that was living through any sort of struggle, I would never send them some sort of fitspiration meme like the one above. So why did I put it on my own business’s social media pages? Because it’s been done by other gyms? Because it’s the kind of thing that a gym is supposed to post? Because it’s not polarizing or controversial? Because it’s safe?
Is that really the kind of business I want to build? A place where generic inauthenticity is celebrated because it’s “safe”?
So, what would I say to a friend if they were in my shoes?
It would probably sound more like this:
Oh, girl! It’s scary out there. I totally get it. But if you weren’t scared, you wouldn’t be doing it right.
You’re scared because you’re putting your whole heart out into the world by starting this business. Your whole heart is out there for people to evaluate and accept or reject as they see fit. That is scary!
And because it is scary, every single time that you go to a networking event even though you feel socially awkward . . .
every time you approach complete strangers to talk to them about this thing you love so much even though you’re a total introvert . . .
every time you show up to train even when you’re exhausted . . .
every time you dig out all the scary, yucky feels and share them in a public blog on your business website . . .
everytime you do those things, you are showing your own heart that it matters most. You’re showing yourself that your heart is worth the work, worth investing your life savings, worth pushing through the fear and doubt, worth the risk.
You’re showing yourself that your heart is worth fighting for.
It’s funny how sometimes the very thing I want to tell everyone else in the world is the thing I most need to hear myself.