About a month ago I was driving around one morning running errands for my book signing that evening. (In case you haven’t heard, I’ve written and self-published a book!)
My heart was racing in anticipation of a gathering centered around me and my memoir. I was anxious about speaking in front of a group, and imposter syndrome was rearing its ugly head.
My brain said to me, “I’ll be so glad when this is all over.”
What the heck?! Why did I want this special moment to be behind me?
Adrenaline was flowing through my bloodstream, but there was no need to allow this physical reaction to steal my joy. I was not in any actual danger, and I needed to send my body this message. I also needed to interrupt the negative script running through my head.
I took a deep breath and talked back to myself: “Lisa, you deserve to enjoy this celebration of your achievement. You worked hard on that book. Savor this day!”
I kept breathing and telling myself that I was going to be okay. This event, even if it didn’t go perfectly (because how could it?), would be a learning experience and a critical step in my progress as an author.
Long before this landmark occasion, I used to dream of fast-forwarding through life. Even fun activities often felt like tasks to be checked off of my never-ending internal To Do list. I fantasized about reaching a point where nothing more was expected of me, and I could relax without anything hanging over my head.
The problem with that attitude is: a) no such moment exists, and b) I was literally wishing away half my life.
Over the past five years, I realized that I was in charge of creating the unburdened moments that I craved. I had to practice doing exactly what I did in the car that morning of my book signing—taking deep breaths to calm my nervous system and replacing my defeatist thoughts with more supportive ones.
Life doesn’t have a skip function. Nor should it! The only way we figure out how to get through a scary or difficult moment is to do just that: get through it. These challenges teach us all kinds of truths about ourselves, others, and the world—truths that are only unlocked by plowing forward.
Since I love a good analogy, here’s a quick one: I take indoor cycling classes, and I am usually the slowest person in the class (I know this because we receive an email at the end of each class with our ranking). I don’t let this bother me because I’m getting exercise and pushing my own personal limits in the process.
Each time I start riding and the instructor tells us what our RPM (revolutions per minute) should be, I’m at the very low end of that range. Like if I was riding a real bike, I would probably fall off! I struggle to get up to speed, and every time I think to myself, “Why am I so dang slow?!”
As the class continues, we are urged to ride faster and faster, and then we slow down briefly to recover, and then we pick up speed again. By the end of class, it’s no longer a battle to ride at that minimum speed that was so hard to achieve at the beginning of class.
I learn this little lesson at every spin class: The hard parts of life make us stronger, and before we know it, what was once intimidating seems so much easier.
That night of the book signing, I managed to relish the moment, and I came out the other end more confident and with a story to share.