,

Guest Blog; One Year Without Fear

DAY 11 || NETWORK SHE

FEEL THE FEAR BUT DO IT ANYWAY. LIVE ANYWAY

 

I know it’s been a few days since I posted on my blog I’ve had a very busy few days, but I haven’t forgotten about facing my fears every day. Thursday’s fear (January 11th) was completed quite late – I didn’t get home until after 10pm, then because I had work the very next morning I ended up going to bed not long after getting home. Yesterday was equally as busy, I was working and then travelling over two hours to get to my sister’s house. We arrived there just before 9pm.

However, I managed to accomplish two things on Thursday night.

If you read Wednesday’s blog, then you will know that walking alone in the dark frightens me and makes me quite anxious. I did a small journey that night to the shop and back and said I would work up to doing longer journeys.
Well I did.
I managed two half hour journeys from one end of town to the other on Thursday. I’ll admit that I did call my Dad, however I haven’t spoken to him in a few days and we were going away to my sister’s house the next night so I needed to talk to him about the details. It was a first, though – I have never walked that far in the dark on my own so late at night before. Which brings me onto the second thing I managed to accomplish…
I was invited by a friend from work to a networking event which, as you can see from the image below, is exclusively for women who mean business. Network She have been going since 2007 and, from what I saw that night, is proving to be a roaring success. It’s not everyday someone like me gets invited to an event like this. This whole project of mine is about facing fears and pushing my comfort zone. Let me tell you now, my comfort zone was well and truly pushed that night.

I’ll be honest with you, I felt like a complete fraud when I entered the room. Here were all these accomplished, confident women either with successful businesses of their own or with a great business idea that they want to set in motion… and then there was me, a blogger with, at times, crippling social anxiety.
Panic Set In
I was feeling pretty good on the walk from my place to the hotel the event was being held in. I was anxious, yes, but then I’m always anxious so it wasn’t a foreign feeling to me. The second I stepped through those doors, suddenly the room became smaller, more compact, and it felt like everyone was within touching distance of each other. That’s when the panic set in. I’m more than familiar with panic. I know what to do in those situations and that’s to ride it out. This was my fear to face today. If I didn’t face it today, I would have to face it at some point anyway, so there didn’t seem a point in holding off on it. I had to be brave. I was yelling at myself in my head that I could do this. It’s just people at the end of the day, there’s nothing to be afraid of.
Emma Sutton
The beginning was the worst part. Everyone seemed to know each other or had the confidence to go and speak to someone else, to get to know them and their business, and to simply mingle. I just kept myself to one spot, hoping the ground was going to swallow me whole, all while avoiding eye contact with the room. I’ve never had the confidence to walk up to a complete stranger and introduce myself, not even when I’ve had a few too many! I did, however, get talking to the keynote speaker at the event, Emma Sutton, who had prepared a speech titled ‘Don’t Do It Like a Dude’. We got into the subject of this website and the project I’m doing and she explained how, sometimes, when attending networking events, she will occasionally sit in her car and wonder if there’s a reason for her to go home and not attend. This surprised me – I didn’t think people, especially not confident, outgoing people with a business and a published book, would ever feel like that. It was reassuring to know that everyone feels a degree of anxiety, everyone wishes they could be somewhere else at some point. I’m not alone.
 A Positive Word A Day

The speech itself was very inspiring; she told us all that if she, as an identical twin who shares her DNA with another human being, could be a different person to her twin, then it proves that we are all different, that we are all unique, and that we can all bring something different to the table that no one else can. There was so much more to the speech than that, which I could attempt to explain, although I highly doubt I could do it justice.

 

 

I had said to myself that I would leave after the speech. I realised towards the end that I hadn’t really thought that through properly. I was sat close to the wall, with a table behind me, and several people to the side of me – I wasn’t going to be able to get up without bringing attention to myself, which I really did not want to do. I was stuck. I had no idea what to expect next, but I wasn’t expecting to play a game of pass the parcel. I rolled with it and hoped it wouldn’t stop on me. With each unwrapping there was a question the person unwrapping would need to answer. Fortunately for me, I unwrapped it to find no question, which was a huge relief. It was during the game that I finally, after over an hour there, started to relax, not much mind you but something was better than nothing.

 

After the game, we were given a chance to mingle once again, and I ended up in conversation with some of the people on the same table, which surprised me as I was not feeling one bit of confidence. The feeling of being a fraud I mentioned earlier returned with a vengeance. I had nothing to worry about, though. They were all fascinating and inspiring, each with a unique story to tell – or an adventure, as Emma said in her speech. This was the moment when I started to feel better about being there. I actually contributed to conversation. They asked me about my project and they even asked for my website address! Who would have thought that anyone, especially not successful, confident businesswomen would be interested in my little website? Much to my surprise, we were talking for at least a good half an hour about my project, about their businesses, about their plans and ideas for the future… It was such an amazing, inspiring, and positive experience being able to talk with them.

 

My friend from work even commented how she was glad – and surprised – that I was still there at the end! I surprised myself, too. My anxiety turned out to be a good thing for it actually stopped me from leaving. Had I gone when I initially wanted to, I would have kicked myself over giving in to my anxiety and I never would have had the experience that I did.

Thursday night was definitely a win for me.

Social anxiety: 0 – Kelly: 1

About the Author and Blogger.  
Hi there! I’m Kelly and I’m afraid of just about everything.

No, really.

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, mostly due to the fact that I cannot – and have not ever – been able to stick at one, but 2018 seemed to come at the right time for me.

I have been held back by fear for as long as I can remember. I have been afraid of everything; afraid of living my life.

Not anymore.

After being inspired by Michelle Poler, who lived a 100 days without fear in 2015, I decided that the only way I would ever get to being the person that I know I can be is by facing every single one of my fears head on. Recently, I sat down to write just which fears I wanted and needed to face and quickly found myself with a list that contained more than one hundred fears. Some are big, some are small. Most might not make sense to some people. You may wonder: ‘why is she afraid of that?’ – and that’s completely fine. For me, these are what I consider(ed) impossible to do without feeling an overwhelming amount of anxiety.

 

Anxiety is something that I’m all too familiar with. I was diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, also known as social phobia. For those of you unfamiliar with this disorder, it causes an extreme feeling of fear and anxiety when placed in social situations. Often it is confused with being shy – but it is so much more than that. It’s normal to feel nerves before a test, before a presentation, before a job interview. When it becomes a disorder is when it interferes with your everyday life. For me, four years ago when mine was at its worst, I couldn’t even utter a single word to someone else without bursting into tears, without every part of my body trembling with fear. With the help of some incredibly supportive people, I have managed to overcome a large chunk of the fears associated with my disorder already and have become, for the most part, a functioning member of society.

But I’m ready to become more than just ‘functioning’. I want to live.

Am I ready to face these fears? Absolutely not. Are any of us? Probably not. And that is the precise reason one should start a grueling challenge like this. One of my favourite quotes is this:

‘My whole life I’ve been telling myself, ‘don’t be afraid’. And it is only now that I’m realising how stupid that is. Don’t be afraid. Like saying, ‘don’t move out of the way when someone tries to punch you’ or ‘don’t flinch at the heat of fire’ or ‘don’t blink’. Don’t be human. I’m afraid and you’re afraid and we’re all always going to be afraid, because that’s the point. What I should be telling myself is ‘be afraid, but do it anyway‘. Live anyway.’

And that is my plan. 2018 is going to be the year of living, of reclaiming my life.

 
0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *