Have you ever walked past a house whose blinds were open and peeked inside? From the outside looking in, you see a space where everything is "just so." From the looks of things, these people have their lives together. The space they’ve created seems so welcoming and so put together that you would bet anything that they’re just the same. How often do we judge a book by its cover only to discover that looks are deceiving...and other overplayed cliches and metaphors?
What I really think, though, is that if you actually went inside that house you’d see the signs of age, signs of neglect, signs that things aren’t as idyllic as you might guess. I think I’m a lot like that house. To look at my life from the outside is to think that fear has played no part in it. To look at my life is to see a woman who has not known fear because of all that she has done and accomplished. After all, I’m the girl who’s lived on three continents, traveled to over 19 foreign countries (6 of them alone), jumped out of a plane, snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef, and gotten my nose pierced in Rome. Surely fear is not in my vocabulary. (Insert snort and eye roll here.) That could not be further from the truth.
Fear has probably been my most constant companion. It has been the belonging that I have packed and taken with me from house to house, city to city, and country to country. I have packed it lovingly and taken great pains to make sure it made the move. It’s been my security blanket. And yet, it has been the thing that has held me back the most. It has been the thing that has caused me not to try, not to speak up or out, not to trust myself, not to put myself out there, and not to live life fully. I’m tired of dragging it around with me. What would my life look like if I really was free from fear? I’m not sure yet...but I’m working on it...
I moved back to the US in May after spending the last six years living out my version of a la dolce vita in Rome, Italy. Up until May, I’d been working and living in Rome as the Site Director of a study abroad program for American students. Sadly, though, the program was cancelled for financial reasons and I found myself out of a job. Unsure of what to do, I moved home--and when I say home, I literally mean back with my parents at the age of 38--and contemplated my next move. It seemed like the possibilities were endless...way too endless for someone who held so tightly on to fear. Still, a girl’s gotta make a living.
My sister, Megan, had begun talking to me about a company that she wanted to start and what role I could play in it. “Sure,” I told her, “I could do that.” Truthfully, though, I never thought anything would come of it mostly because I was afraid of what would happen if something really did become of it. I know, that totally makes no sense! But that’s how I felt. Because if we were successful, then there was the possibility that I’d be exposed as a fraud; the talents and gifts that I thought I had aren’t real. Mostly, I was afraid that if I could once again have the blessing of being able to live out my dream, and this time my dream is to really offer a piece of who I am through writing, it would turn out that I have no talent, that I’m not good enough, and that I have nothing to say. That’s a lot of weight for one person to bear.
Despite all that fear, and it’s the same fear that convinced me not to pursue a career in broadcast journalism because I thought I’d never be good enough, I find myself today sitting at Starbucks and working on press releases, stories for activity booklets, and website content. How in the world did I get here?!
I’d like to say that over the last couple of months I have found a way to kick fear to the curb, but that’s not quite true. It’s lurking; I can feel it. Rather, I have seen the passion and determination that my sister and my partners have and it has made me strong. I have seen doors open for us that shouldn’t have and I’m reminded that I do not go at this alone. I have researched women like Bessie Coleman who reached impossible goals and realized impossible dreams simply because they refused to take “no” for an answer. I have been buoyed by faith and inspired by the experiences of others. What I’ve had to do in those moments when fear whispers in my ear is to say to it: “Shut up and move out of the way.” I have pushed it to the side and pushed forward...
And that’s why I’m a part of Big Little Ones. Because I want to push past that fear and do something big to show those around me who think that fear has to win that it doesn’t. I want my niece to know that there are women who are doing big things to affect others with the talents and gifts that they’ve been given. And I want to prove to myself that my dreams, that my gifts, and my talents are worth the risk.
I’m so excited about our GIRLS CAN! CRATEs and how they’ll inspire a new generation of girls to look fear in the eye, move around it, and do BIG things. I’m excited to continue to learn about women that I was never taught about in school and let their bravery, creativity, determination, kindness, justice, and fearlessness inspire me. How can you be a part of this? Consider supporting us in what we’re doing and subscribe to the GIRLS CAN! CRATE this fall or share about it with all the 4-8 year olds you know (or adults responsible for them). You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, where we'll highlight pretty inspiring ladies. Keep your eyes peeled on Fridays for #FearlessFridays where we'll celebrate the small and not-as-small ways ladies are being fearless (share yours with us at firstname.lastname@example.org). Share with us how you are being as fearless as you can. You inspire us too.