A year ago, I shared a post titled Things I'm Afraid to Tell You in which I shared all the things I'd been scared to openly discuss here on the blog. In this second installment—Things I'm Afraid To Tell You II—I'm exploring a new round of fears in hopes of releasing self-limiting beliefs and moving in to the new year with a lighter, freer heart.
I become consumed with nostalgia and self-reflection this time of year.
Where am I going? Where have I been? What am I doing? How am I changing?
These are the sorts of questions that fill my mind just before the start of each new year.
Almost a year ago to the day, I shared this post with you. Titled "Things I'm Afraid to Tell You", it detailed all the things I'd feared openly acknowledging at the time.
Hitting 'publish' on that post was one of the scariest moments in all of my 7+ years of blogging. Never had I felt so vulnerable in this corner of the internet I call home. I wasn't sure how you'd respond and yet something inside me needed to share that post.
To my complete surprise, almost immediately after I clicked 'publish', your comments began to trickle in. During a time of year when blog posts are typically greeted by cricket chirps, I was overwhelmed by the number of you who reached out and generously extended your warmth, wisdom, and support.
Based on your response to the post and also on the openness and freedom I felt in my heart after writing it, I decided to make it an annual tradition. I've never been one for New Year's resolutions (every day of the year is a great day to invoke transformation and change), but examining the things that scare me? Well, that I can get down with. The simple act of acknowledging the things we're afraid of tends to release the power they hold over us.
I'll admit, some of the fears on last year's list are still fears of mine today. But they're not nearly as scary or intimidating as they once were, and that feels good. Progress not perfection.
So, without further ado, here are the things I'm currently afraid to tell you...
But first, I want to make the same clarification this year as I made last year: My intention in sharing this isn't to solicit your empathy or understanding but to solicit my own. To look fear square in the eyes, give it a high-five and a fist-bump, and to release it right here in front of you.
»»» I go through periods where I obsessively (once or twice or even three times a day) check Amazon to see if any new reviews for my cookbook have come in. When I see that the book has received a new review, my stomach drops and my heart starts pounding. If the review is positive, I feel a sense of relief and appreciation. If the review is negative or critical, it can send me into a tail spin of emotions and self-doubt (because I've given it the power to do so). It's a terrifying experience to have something that you've poured your whole heart into publicly reviewed, especially online where the sense of distance, of anonymity, allows us to forget that there are real beating hearts on the receiving end of our words. It's been a year since my cookbook was released and yes, it's gotten so much easier to deal with online reviews. But there are days when it still stings. Days when seeing a negative review makes me want to curl up and never share anything with the world ever again. Because it would be easier that way.
»»» I have just a month left to decide whether or not I'd like to return to my position as a full-time psychologist next school year, and I have no idea what I'm going to do. I love working for myself, but the uncertainty and unpredictability scares me. With so many endless options to potentially pursue and directions to consider, there are days when I feel utterly overwhelmed. The truth is, in many ways it's easier to work for someone else. My career as a psychologist is predictable, and it was my dream job when I landed it. But the work turned out to be so very different than I'd hoped it would be, and it doesn't fulfill me like the work I do here does. But Dan's also an entrepreneur, and we have a little one to think about now. I feel torn between the desire to follow my heart down an uncertain path and the responsibility of supporting our family. It would be easier to return to my position and live out the remainder of my career as a psychologist, but just the thought of it makes my heart feel heavy. And yet the thought of dealing with the uncertainty of continuing to work for myself and to grow this space in new and different ways scares me.
»»» I still struggle with Imposter Syndrome (honestly, don't we all from time-to-time?) and often question whether or not I'm really, truly adding value to the lives of others through the work I do.
»»» My biggest fear is disappointing people.
»»» In recent months, I haven't been able to workout as much or as vigorously as I normally do (due to being so far along in pregnancy and suffering a fourth-degree tear during birth) nor have I made time for meditation, and for about two weeks postpartum, anxiety yanked me back into its darkness. Big time. After years of keeping it at bay and well-managed, the combination of not being able to implement my usual self-care strategies and the crazy shift in hormones during those first postpartum weeks gave my old foe Anxiety way too much power. It'd been so long since I'd experienced it, I'd almost forgotten how painful and terrifying anxiety can be. To work my way back out, I dusted off my trusty Happy Light (i.e., a full-spectrum therapy light) and have been using it regularly, I've upped my zinc intake, I've carved out daily time for self-care, and I've leaned on loved ones for support (Dan and my mom, especially). I'm feeling much, much better than I was just a couple weeks back, but I'm still on guard. I'm taking it day-by-day, being honest with myself and those around me when I'm struggling (instead of masking it like I once did), and doing my best to realign myself with intuition rather than letting my "what if" lizard brain run wild. Also, I've been reminding myself that mental wellness is always a journey and never a destination and that detours are to be expected along the wellness path.
»»» I often look at people I admire and think, "I wish I could do that." Throughout the last year, I've realized more than ever just how powerful and detrimental self-limiting beliefs can be. And yet I'm not always sure how to release them. They're stubborn little thoughts that cripple hopes, dreams, and aspirations, and I want nothing more than to let go of them and move forward.
»»» I tend to think that most people have their lives more figured out than I do.
»»» I'm not sure if it's simply one of the perils of a growing website or if people are becoming pickier, but I've experienced an uptick in rude and hurtful comments on my blog this last year. I let most things roll off my shoulders, but there are times when a comment catches me off-guard, and I find myself ruminating on it for hours, sometimes even days. Sometimes I even find myself feeling angry and resentful with these people I don't know. Throughout my life, I've been accused of being "too nice," so maybe my expectations for the average level of kindness (even online) are simply too high, but I can't shake the feeling that we, as a whole, are becoming more judgmental of others and less compassionate. It's upsetting, and I hope we can all align ourselves more closely with appreciation and kindness in the new year.
»»» Earlier this year, I made a total rookie mistake with SEO (i.e., unknowingly changed the structure of my URL to include a 'www') that caused my search engine traffic to MAJORLY drop. I beat myself up over it for weeks and stressed about how it would affect my blog revenue. Honestly, the whole thing still makes my stomach turn a bit. Google can be so unforgiving, even to websites that have been around for years and years, and it's unsettling to run a business that's somewhat dependent on algorithms that are entirely out of your control.
»»» I'm still as fascinated as ever by the cosmos, spiritual exploration, energy fields/auras, and intuition. I spend hours each week studying and thinking about these things.
»»» I wonder (and worry) about how I'll be able to keep up with work as a new mom. I pre-wrote and scheduled two months worth of blog posts so that I could take a proper maternity leave. However, come February, it'll be cricket chirps around here unless I'm able to figure out a way to fit in a bit of dedicated work time each week. Right now, my plan is to return to work on a very part-time basis in February and post once a week. Then, in April we're planning/hoping to hire a part-time nanny or enroll Sloane in part-time daycare and have my mom watch her one day a week so that I can return to work full-time. If it does end up being a bit (or very) quiet around here for a month or two, please know that it's not my intent to leave you hanging and that I'll return as soon as I can (promise).
»»» Talking directly into the camera on Instagram Stories scares the hell out of me. But most of you seem to enjoy it when I share insights into my everyday routine, so I try to put on a brave face and share as openly as possible when I feel up to it.
»»» I continue to take Instagram vacations. I love Instagram but something about it just breeds comparison, and comparison truly is the thief of joy. And yet sometimes during these Insta "vacations" I end up feeling guilty for abandoning you all.
»»» I still feel a touch of lingering creative burn-out from writing my cookbook, and I often wonder if it's normal to feel this way all this time later. I also wonder if I'll ever be ready to write a second book. And if I do, will it be a cookbook? I'd love to dive deep into the research on mental wellness and write a self-help book unlike any other. I've been jotting down ideas and anecdotes for the last two years and would love to shape them into a full fledge book or course. Universe, are you listening? Perhaps now's the time to take this loosely formed intention of mine and form it into an official one.
»»» I would love to do more speaking engagements, but they terrify me. I presented at Chicago Ideas Week in October and teetered between fear and excitement for the six months leading up to the event. Of course, once all was said and done, I felt inspired, empowered, and ready to tackle another speaking gig, but since there's been months of space between then and now, I'm scared again. I wish I could consistently be brave and leap toward the things that scare me.
I think that's it. Fears released and heart open.
Before I go, I'd like to leave you with these inspiring words of wisdom from Brené Brown's Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted:
There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics
Than those of us who are willing to fall
Because we have learned how to rise.
With skinned knees and bruised hearts;
We choose owning our stories of struggle,
Over hiding, over hustling, over pretending.
When we deny our stories, they define us.
When we run from struggle, we are never free.
So we turn toward truth and look it in the eye.
We will not be characters in our stories.
Not villains, not victims, not even heroes.
We are the authors of our lives.
We write our own daring endings.
We craft love from heartbreak,
Compassion from shame,
Grace from disappointment,
Courage from failure.
Showing up is our power.
Story is our way home.
Truth is our song.
We are the brave and brokenhearted.
We are rising strong.