Do the Thing You Fear

“The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you.”

 ~William Jennings Bryan

I’m going to write a more personal post today.  I’m not announcing a story sale or talking about writing.  I’m talking about me, talking about an experience I had today, and talking about life in general.

If you know me very well, you probably already know I’m pretty shy.  Awkward.  Timid.  Not online, mind you.  But in the real world.  I often don’t know what to say, and feel the most uneasy when I’m in a situation where I don’t know what’s expected of me.  I get comfortable relatively quickly at work — as soon as I know everything I’m supposed to do, I begin to open up.  Because, while I am a shy person, I am not private.  I am not closed off.  I love sharing, and you can ask me just about anything and I’ll answer without hesitation.

When I lived with my parents, I almost never got my hair cut.  It used to hang down to the middle of my back, without layers, usually pulled back in a ponytail.  Upon getting married and moving out, I began to get my hair cut more and more.  Shorter and shorter every time. It was fun, it was something I had never done before, and it took me a while to work up to the point I reached today.

I don’t know why I wanted to chop it all off.  I browsed “pixie cuts” on Pinterest for hours.  I debated and wrestled about whether or not to do it.  It’s such a drastic change.  What if it looked horrible? What would people think of me? What would my husband and family think?  I asked for opinions and my awesome friends and family offered them.  A decent amount steered me towards safer cuts — just below the ear, a cute bob, something more in line with what I’d had done before.  A few beautiful, bold souls told me to do what I want, that I would look beautiful no matter what and I should go for it.

So I did it.

I did the thing I feared.

I chopped off all my hair.

Crazy Hair

I was so nervous last night.  I was so nervous, in fact, that I was nervous as I slept.  Stuck in this weird, semi-conscious, gut-churning state, punctuated by bouts of consciousness wherein I glanced anxiously at the clock and found it never quite time to get up.

I talked to my husband about it and explained that I didn’t want to play it safe.  That I felt like I needed to get this out of my system — try something bold, something very much unlike me.  After all, you only live once and it’ll grow back out — pretty much the same thing I said before I got my nose pierced and I came to love that!  And my husband was incredibly understanding and supportive; he told me to do what I wanted and he’d like it.

As is my nature, after I arrived at the salon, I actually calmed down.  No gut-churning, no twitchiness.  I settled into the chair, told her what I wanted and let her go.  And it didn’t come out exactly as I planned.  It’s shorter than I intended and she styled it straight up in the air.  Someone threw out the name “Miley Cyrus” and I cringed.  Needless to say, I won’t be styling it up, I can promise you that!  Then, after she’d taken a pair of clippers to the back of my head (a very odd, first experience) a gentleman came in requesting donations for Wounded Warriors.  My back was turned to him and he said “oh, you cut men’s hair too?  You’re doing a good job on him.”  I looked at the stylist, and she at me, then she spun me around.  Poor guy was embarrassed (as was I!).  Didn’t even make it out of the salon before I got mistaken for a boy!  Still — I was draped in that salon cape thing and my back was turned, so the mistake is understandable.

Crazy Hair 4

Anyway, after the cut, after the highlights and while the lady was styling my hair up, another stylist asked me if I liked it, if it was “more you?”  I laughed and fumbled only for a second.  I pointed toward the mound of hair on the floor — what looked like a dead animal that had once resided on my head.  I said, “No.  That’s me over there, scared on the floor.  But I like this better.”

Cutting my hair off doesn’t make me automatically not nervous about stuff.  It doesn’t wipe away the anxiety and awkwardness that still sometimes haunts my social encounters.  But it did feel oddly freeing.  I did walk out of their grinning, with a definite strut, as I headed to my old workplace to get some food and post pictures online.  I’m not a cocky person, I’m not a confident person, and goodness knows, I’m not a bold person.

But maybe I could be.  If I wanted to be.  Maybe I can teach myself to do the things I fear.  Maybe I can choose who I become and not sit back and let life mold me how it wants.  And if I can — I know who I want to be.  I want to be kind and loving, I want to be artistic and creative, I want to be funny and confident.  And at the same time I want to be more selfless, as easy as it is to get caught up in my own life.

Which brings me to my all-time favorite quote.  You can carve in my tombstone if you want, because no other quote so resonates with me as this one from author Jeff Grub in (believe it or not) a Magic the Gathering book called “The Brothers’ War”…

“Remember me as I tried to be, not as I was.”

I’m afraid of a lot of things in life.  A lot of silly things.  But I’m trying not to be.  And that’s what I’m going to hold onto, that’s what I’m going to remember.

Thanks for reading my ramblings!



6 thoughts on “Do the Thing You Fear

  1. Great post! Sometimes stepping outside your comfort zone can have profound effects on other parts of your life. You look terrific, but it’s about more than that, isn’t it?

  2. Looks great, actually. I’ve never had an issue with my hair, but I get what you mean about jumping in to something new. A textbook we use has a great quote from an article about advancing in your career, although it applies to every aspect of life, I think: “Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.” Push yourself to try new things, see what works for you, learn something about yourself that you didn’t know.

    Today the salon, tomorrow the world!

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