Fighting Fear

While I was getting ready to post on my blog after a long hiatus, I was feeling nervous about putting myself out there for everyone to see.  You know that feeling when you post something on Facebook and hoping that you get comments and “likes” and nobody says anything?  I’m very bad at self-promotion, especially when it involves things from my head and heart.  But there is a fear that pops up that no one will read what I’ve written, regardless if I know it’s not true.

That fear can be crippling.  There is a point where you need to learn to step out of the shadows and learn how to not have fear rule your life.  To have the courage to lean in and be open with others.  Even if it scares the shit out of you.

A couple of years ago, I read a book by Brené Brown called Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead.  Below is the Ted Talk that she gave.  It’s fantastic.

The book talks about how when we learn to step into that fear, the fear of not being known, and become vulnerable, that is when we can step out of that fear.  Once we embrace the messiness, the easier it is to step out of the shadows.  It’s not easy, and is a lifelong process.  I know that I’m still learning and I still have to remind myself that I’m worthy to be known.  Some days are definitely better than others, but ultimately I know that I am worthy to be known.

A New Season

I was having an evening of lots of thoughts running through my head, and as I sat, dumping things on paper, I realized that it’s been a while since I’ve really sat down to write.  And when I logged into my blog, and I realized that the last time that I had posted anything was 2 years ago, so definitely a very dry and challenging season in life.  I’ve found that I do well writing for a while, but I always seem to lose steam.  However, after an afternoon with friends that started with “Let’s play games for a couple of hours,” ending 5 hours later after some really deep and honest conversations about life, I felt encouraged to re-engage in something deeper.  Reminding me that my soul needs those types of connections and relationships.

Thinking about the past two years and all the transitions that had happened, I’m not surprised that I had withdrawn from engagement and really exploring life.  The company that I worked for since moving to Seattle went through a buyout, and an increasingly toxic work environment developed due to the new management.  I knew I needed to find a new job.  But first, I needed to find a new roommate, and after several frustrating months of interviewing people, I eventually had to find a place for me and my cat.  Apartment hunting and moving.  Next up: focusing on job hunting.  Company then imploded, leaving me unemployed, scrambling for a job.  Fortunately, I did some contract work to pay bills while I job hunted, so I could be picky, but it was several months of interviews and networking.  Then I started a new job in October (YAY!!), but training and meeting all sorts of new people was draining.

So yeah, a lot of life transitions.  And being an introvert, I had extended myself for such a long time with putting myself out there in both my home and work life, I had to take a lot of time to re-charge and heal from all of the stress.  My soul was so drained, but now, I’m feeling like I’m ready to tackle things that I have avoided.  Doing something new that challenges me.  Picking up a book that I can chew on, instead of just reading to escape.  Writing more.

My faith community has been so encouraging to me during this season.  Praying for me, listening, and allowing me to step back and take care of myself.  I would not have survived without them.

Now to proceed with care and to allow myself the grace when I need to rest.

Unfogging the Mind

The past couple of months have been busy and a lot of life has happened.  The biggest thing that has happened was that I was diagnosed with ADD (Attention Deficient Disorder) and was placed on medication.  I’ve been doing a lot of processing, and making connections with my past.  I had always suspected that I may be ADD, but actually having an official diagnosis was really freeing.  It’s nice knowing that there can be answers to how and why my brain works the way it does.

I have struggled for years with a mind that would always go 100 miles an hour and bounce from thought to thought.  I love people, but would have a hard time going into large social situations because there would be so much stimulation, I would shut down, or start feeling agitated.  Staying focused, especially on mundane things, was an incredible challenge.  I would zone out in conversations, and not feel fully present or engaged.  My mind would start wandering, or I would be trying to focus on one aspect of the conversation, I would miss the big picture.  Instead of thinking through what I was saying, I would blurt out what was on my mind, and end up doing a lot of damage control.

When I was younger, the school had wanted me to be placed on medication for ADHD because when I would get bored in class, I would get up and wander around the classroom.  I was a socially awkward child (and still am sometimes), but a lot of it was attributed to the fact that I was “gifted” and really smart.  I ended up developing different coping mechanisms to control the symptoms.  For example, I try adhere to a schedule and always have a calendar on me because I would get distracted easily and forget things if I didn’t have reminders.  I write lists so I can keep track of stuff.   My Blackberry is my memory.

And because I was gifted, and a girl, ADD was never really brought up after the first suggestion by the school when I was younger.  I always wondered, but was encouraged by some friends to seek out help because the symptoms were inhibiting my relationships.  To figure out why I did the things I did.

Even though I have been on medication for about a month, it has been life-changing.  I never knew that my mind could stay in one place.  I’m able to stay focused, and I feel more engaged and present when I’m with my friends.  There still are things to work on, but being able to think clearly, I’ve been able to pinpoint things and make connections much easier.  I’m able to see the big picture better and have been enjoying my time with my friends more completely.

There are still things I am working on, but having a big piece of the puzzle figured out helps a lot.  I had been feeling like I had been running on a treadmill and not getting anywhere, and it’s been freeing to move forward.

Imago Dei

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to help organize and attend a retreat for our post-college/pre-family ministry at my church.  It was truly a retreat.  Most of the time, people say “retreat” and there is so much stuff jam-packed into the weekend, that you have to come home to relax.  I’m definitely at the age where I benefit from digging into things on my own.  Being inundated with all sorts of good information isn’t beneficial when I don’t take time to process it.

The theme of the weekend was “Imago Dei” which translates into “Image of God”.  How am I a reflection of God?  Do I see myself as God sees me?  How does God see me?  I dug deep and hard in my mind and heart.  Shed many tears, and cried out to God.  Reflecting on a lot of things.

I have a tendency of worrying about what everyone else thinks of me, but not what God thinks.  A couple of days before the retreat, I had coffee with a good friend of mine, and in our conversation, they brought up the point we were both people pleasers.  I’ve never wanted to admit that I am.  But, when I had a chance to process, I had to truly admit it and own it.  I worry that I won’t be accepted, that I’m not doing good job.  That I try and reflect the image of those who are around me, and not the image of God.  Growing up, I always felt like an outsider in social circles; awkward, lonely, and not having many close friends.  This shaped and affected me deeply.  And when I would actually develop good friends, I would want to please them.  Putting up a front and seeking their approval, because I was afraid that I would lose them.

Being aware and admitting this helps me to move forward.  I know it will take time, and as I’m still processing, I pray that God will transform me.  Learning why I do the things I do, and learning to reflect God completely.  To not worry about what others think, but that the only one who matters is God.

1. Why start a blog? or Vulnerability is scary!

I’ve been toying with the idea for quite a while to start a blog.  The past few months I have been learning the importance and value of writing stuff down.  As a verbal processor, this has been a challenge.  I usually have to spit something out, talk about it, process it loudly before I come to a conclusion (my poor roommate and my friends…it’s a good thing that they love me).   I hope that having a public forum such as a blog will help me keep accountable in that area of my life.  I tend to shy away from sharing a lot with those I don’t know very well.  Being vulnerable is very scary.  The definition of vulnerable is: “capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt, as by a weapon”.  Why would I want to be vulnerable if I was open to attack?  But I’ve discovered that when you are open to attack, you are also open to receiving the good things that God wants you to receive.  It can be incredibly freeing if you aren’t constantly hiding behind a mask.  No matter how much I repeat this mantra though, some days I still want to hide behind that mask.  I don’t want others to see my messiness and I don’t want to be wounded.  But I do want to be free.  Free to receive love and grace.  Free to be known fully and completely.  You can’t be known fully unless you are vulnerable.  Scariness, here I come!