I am from Chicago, where kids paid close attention to the shoes you were wearing after winter break.
Everybody was checking to see who was wearing something new. See, in the hood where money is scarce, you got your best clothes and shoes around Christmas, so when kids come back from break, everybody is looking to see what you got on.
I walked into my eighth-grade classroom with my all-blue suede Timbs (what we called Timberland boots), and I didn’t like the way everyone’s eyes noticed them.
The same thing happened in High School.
I grew up poor and didn’t start wearing name-brand shoes until the second round of sixth grade. While I loved Air Force Ones, I had never owned a pair of Jordans.
It wasn’t until High School I owned a pair and joined the other “cool” kids and experienced what it was like to sit on the pedestal of those who wore Jordans.
And I didn’t like it.
I wished I hadn’t worn those shoes. I liked them a lot, but I didn’t like the attention they garnered. I also didn’t like being like everyone else. I quickly realized I wasn’t a Jordan-wearing type of person. As I got older, I learned I am not all that into gym shoes (sneakers if you are not from the Chi) in general. I wear them, and I have them (and I like looking at the different styles), but my personal style is more casual.
But anyway, those Jordans were my first and only pair.
Here’s the truth:
I don’t like the spotlight. Despite what I do for a living, I am not an “out there in front” kind of person, and I get embarrassed easily because I’m shy.
Just as Moses did not want to go to the Pharaoh and tell him to let his people go at first, I do not always want to show up.
But at some point, Moses had to obey the voice that spoke to him and fulfill his purpose which is why I show up despite the quiver in my chest.
Maya Angelou said courage is the most important of all virtues because, without courage, you cannot practice any other virtue consistently.
You can’t be consistently kind or loving, or generous. You can be these things for a time, but not consistently because there is no endurance without courage.
When the threat is too much, you will quit if not for courage. So, while everyone is afraid, those who are courageous go on despite the fear.
“I do what I hate to do, but I do it like I love it. That’s discipline.” – Mike Tyson
What Tyson isn’t saying:
Settle for a life that does not bring you joy.
What Tyson is saying:
Even while doing what you love, there will be moments where you have to be disciplined to accomplish a goal, and this won’t be fun, but it will be worth it.
Stop Predicting What Other People Are Thinking
I am pretty sure we are all guilty of this!
The biggest stumbling block to showing up is thinking about what other people would think of you. We make up these stories in our head about what we expect to happen and what we think other people are thinking.
Tell yourself a different story than the one in your head.
People do love you and think about you often.
Readers do want to read your book, and they do care about your story.
People want to hear from you more than you think.
You do matter.
I mean, I know you’re a genius and all that, but you can’t predict what people are thinking. You just cannot do that to yourself.
“But I don’t want people to think…”
This is a phrase we should all work to eliminate from our vocabulary, and I admit, I have work to do myself. When we say things like this, we are expecting a response that may or may not even be real.
“I don’t want to post about my book because I don’t want people to think ________.”
If you don’t tell people about it, how are they supposed to know it exists? What about this instead:
“I am so excited to tell people about my new book!”
I notice the more I am excited about something, the more excited the people around me are. Take the smile test for example.
Look at someone and smile. I bet you they are going to smile back. If they are extra silly like me, they might even laugh. Then you will laugh, and neither of us knows what’s funny.
One of my favorite quotes is:
“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”
Anticipate the best possible outcome instead of the worst.
Release the Need to Know.
Trying to control the outcome is like trying to catch the wind. Get excited about what you don’t know and all the possibilities of a new experience. You don’t need to know the outcome to start.
You Don’t Have to Say Yes to Everything.
You don’t have to drink from every cup handed to you. That’s how you get poisoned. You are only required to accept those things that speak to your soul, nothing more and nothing less. If it does not set your soul on fire, you don’t have to do it.
This, saying no, is more than turning down offers, although that’s important too. Saying no is also about not feeling obligated to do what everyone else is doing, think as everyone else is thinking, or move how everyone else moves.
Saying no is not wearing Jordans if you really don’t like them.
Another quick story.
In my early teens, fifteen-sixteen-ish, my brother spray-painted hats and t-shirts for the neighborhood. He did stuff like this all the time because he’s an amazing artist. He even designed clothing for the entire cheerleading team. Anywho, my brother spray-painted my and my sisters’ and cousin hats to match our shirts. That’s how I got into wearing hats that summer. Eventually, my sisters and cousin let go of the hat thing, but I would still wear mine even at school. My twin thought I looked like a boy, but I wasn’t a tomboy. I just liked the hat.
Saying no is also about not denying a part of yourself because of what other people think.
This means knowing ourselves well enough to know what we want and don’t want.
Sometimes, we accept things we don’t like, things that are not inherently us, and things we are not comfortable with because we don’t know ourselves, and that’s another discussion altogether.
It can be hard to show up when you are naturally more laid back and reserved, but I challenge you to push yourself. The best way to get used to doing something is to get out there and do it, and the more you do that thing, the easier it’ll be.
And being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean that you are shy, although many shy people are introverted.
I took an online quiz before posting this. My results say I am an introvert (not surprised) with the following traits:
- You crave alone time. Having time to think, private space, and quiet time helps you feel rested and whole.
- People can drain you. Even the most well-meaning people can pull a lot out of you. You can absolutely do social situations; they just take a lot of energy.
- When socializing, you like to observe before partaking. You like to think before you speak and have one-on-one conversations rather than speaking in groups.
You can take your own quiz at: https://www.scienceofpeople.com/introvert/ (And it’s free)
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson