June 19, 2014

When You Have Fear In Your Chicken Places

Eleanor Roosevelt quote, fear, do one thing that scares you
"Do one thing everyday that scares you."   Eleanor Roosevelt

This is the advice I carried in my pocket when I attended the writer's conference.

The great paradox of the modern introverted writer is that you can't be the hide-away, introspective soul that your spirit craves to be - you must be visible, aggressively pursuing your dream, waving your arms like an eccentric wild-woman screaming "look at me, read me, LOVE ME!"

"Do one thing everyday that scares you."  Notice how it doesn't say "Do one thing everyday that scars you."

Do you see the difference?

It took me a while to comprehend the power of that 'E'. 

Fear can be a hindering force. It can tuck you up safe and warm away from the world and the possibility of goodness-knows-what. It can make your living anything but living. It can be your prison. BUT fear can also be a propelling force, an invitation to self-awareness, a chance to overcome, and a ticket to new strengths.

My chicken places house hateful words like: boring, ordinary, not-good-enough, unimportant, uneducated...

My chicken places are ugly.

"What are your plans tonight?" one of my conference roommates asked me.

"Night Owl," I told her.  "I hate it."

"Then why are you going?"

"Because I think it's good for me," I said.  Because I am afraid of it.

Night Owl is a room full of writers sitting around a conference table in a basement boardroom at 11:00 pm, taking turns reading their work aloud. {I imagine they call it Night Owl because the feeling invoked by that room must be something akin to that of a field mouse darting frantically through the grass in a desperate attempt to avoid the talons of a hooting predator.}

I am so bad at it. Somehow, the moment I begin reading, the level of oxygen depletes in the room and I can't gather enough breath to make it through a full sentence without stopping for another.  I shake. I don't make eye contact. I stumble over words I've read in my head a thousand times. I sweat.

But I get through it.  Without scars.

And it's good for me.

Because I have this dream...I see myself holding a fresh-pressed copy of some newly published novel with my name on it and I'm in front of a crowd and I'm reading to them from the pages I wrote from my heart and I'm smooth as silk because by then I am well practiced by those tortuous moments around a basement table... 

Anything is possible if you step out of your own way.

What fears stop you from really pursuing your dream?  Can you step beyond them and stare your dragon in the face?

Go and be the master of your fears.  Lord over it with daring confidence.  Because fear can rule you unless you choose to rule it. Sucker-punch it straight in the throat.  Trade in your chicken places for a ten pack of McNuggets. Be your own hero.

Do one thing everyday that scares you!
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  1. The entire second last paragraph just killed me hahaha. Last week + this week we got hired to do a pretty big photo shoot for a construction equipment-making company. It was a pretty high paying task. Not wanting to drop the ball I almost said no, but Leanne pushed me to do it. We did the shoot today (I'm taking a break from editing photos right now, as a matter of fact) and while it terrified me (like, awake-all-night-nervous), it has turned into a fantastic shoot that I am glad we did. I have been learning to channel fear into motivation! Glad you did the same in your own way :)

    1. That's amazing! Good for you to push past your doubts and go for it!!! Regrets lie in not even trying, right?! Here's to making nuggets out of our 'chicken places' ;)

  2. Incredible writing. You are gifted Alanna. Keep at it. Push the envelope.


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