I’ve thought about this a lot in this lately. I see lots of posts from people who give themselves permission to not be uncomfortable. And I respect that. It’s tough being uncomfortable. You don’t feel good, it can make you have an anxiety or panic attack, it can make you physically ill. There are certainly bad kinds of uncomfortable. You don’t want to force yourself to be around someone you don’t like, or who gives you bad vibes. You want to listen to your gut, your intuition, and if it’s telling you to get the f*ck out of a situation, you do it.
But there’s something to be said for being uncomfortable. You can’t have something new if you don’t try something new. And let’s face it, trying something new is usually uncomfortable.
You sit outside a building because you’ve never been in it before and don’t know where anything is. You sure as hell don’t want to go inside and make an ass of yourself wandering around. You wait outside a new meeting spot until you know a friend is already there so you’re not first to arrive and you have to sit by yourself.
A lot of people asked me if I was nervous going to that book signing a couple weeks ago. To be honest, no, I wasn’t. There was the potential to be, sure. Who wants to drive fifteen minutes away, go into a conference center they’ve never been in before, set up all their books, and talk for six hours about their work to strangers, and hope they buy your books? Who the hell needs that when there’s Amazon, right?
I wasn’t nervous because I have a degree in Human Resources, and setting up for that book signing felt exactly like sitting at a table at a job/career fair. I did that a lot. A lot. On both sides of the table. I was used to standing, holding out my hand, making eye contact and, yeah, speaking. (Gross.) If I didn’t have two years of that behind me, I probably wouldn’t have gone.
But that’s the point of this blog post, too. Giving yourself permission to skip things because they make you uncomfortable won’t help you get anywhere. If I had let myself do that, I would have skipped the writing meeting where I met the woman who asked me to participate in the book signing in the first place. Let me tell you, the Monday evening we met, I was a nervous ball of energy, and I didn’t write all day.
As writers and authors, we’re going to be asked to do things that make us uncomfortable. If we strike it rich (and even if we don’t) we’re going to be asked to speak at panels, and give talks. Go to book signings, speak about our craft, our journey. We’ll be asked to encourage others, help others on the same journey.
While it’s okay to give yourself permission to avoid things you don’t want to do, keep in mind all that you’ll be missing if you can’t take that leap.
Many of us are afraid of change. We don’t want to find a new job, or we stay with a partner we may not even really like because breaking up is too hard. We don’t find a new apartment because moving sucks.
So think about what that means the next time you give yourself a pass, or encourage someone to skip something because it’s not what they want to do.
You can’t miss what you never had, but you may never have another opportunity.
I really like this quote. Not only do you have to be prepared, but you have to be ready to take a leap, take a risk. An opportunity can present itself, but if opportunity is knocking, you have to be able to open the door.
Joanna Penn has a new non-fiction book out about public speaking, called, well, Public Speaking. Public speaking sucks, and as authors, every once in a while we’re going to be asked to do it. Give a talk, participate in a panel. Even if we’re sitting in a writing group and we’re asked what we’re working on, you could have 2-10 pairs of eyes on you, listening to what you have to say.
You would think as writers all we would be asked to do is sit in a dark room and pour our hearts out into our laptops. This isn’t the case, unfortunately.
Another book that can help us put our faces out there besides Joanna’s public speaking book is Amy Schmittauer’s book, Vlog Like a Boss. In it she gives out really great information on how to vlog, what to vlog about, and how to present yourself. It’s a good resource if you’re thinking about starting to put your author face out there!
Joanna’s public speaking book is also pretty cool, and since she’s been speaking forever, she knows what she’s talking about. I would recommend giving both these books a try.
Being uncomfortable sucks, but if you always give yourself a pass, you may never know what opportunities you’ll miss.
What have you done lately to step outside your comfort zone? Did it pay off?
Let me know!