I have spent most of my adult life as a funny motivational speaker which pretty much qualifies as a scary thing. Not only did I choose a profession with risk, every single audience and every single job, for fifteen years, has brought with it some form of anxiety. Some of this anxiety is based on truth, and most of it is based on things I made up in my head.
The Little Voice That Beats You Down
I'm thinking most of us have one. That little voice. And I think for most of us that voice has days when it is kind to us, and days when it rips us to shreds. I'm pretty sure that's just part of being human. And our quest in life is to find the perfect balance, where the voice is both kind enough and critical enough to make us a better person and help us create the life we want and deserve.
I've been pretty good at keeping that voice in check in most areas of my life. And if you come to any of my shows, you get a chance to step into my humor-paved journey of struggling with this voice and, hopefully, you walk away loving yourself a little more.
Well Today I'm Really Scared
To those of you who have been following my journey, you have watched me step up onto stage after stage after stage after stage. You have watched me write a book, then write another one, and another one. You have watched me get on TV. You have watched me step into new industries and grow as a performer and expert storyteller. You have seen me fail. You have seen me look stupid. You have seen me with spinach on my teeth. You have laughed at me and with me. And most of you have loved me through it. And I think that somehow you might have been encouraged to do the things that scare you too in the process.
My job has always been to lift you up. And I love that job.
But today, I'm the one who needs lifting.
Because today, I am scared.
Today that little voice is loud and mean and it is winning.
Or maybe this post is my chance to face that voice once and for all.
Stepping Out Of My Comfort Zone
It is fitting that I write this post on this website, because it is actually my theater show that is scaring me silly.
You're probably gasping and saying, "What? Is she kidding? Why in the world would she be scared of doing something she's been doing for years? We love her!"
Yeah. I get it.
I have done this show for years in different forms, with the exception of a few new pieces I've added for fun. But, yes, you are right. This material is by no means new. In fact, one could say that I've been rehearsing this material in front of live audiences for fifteen years.
And I never questioned it before.
Okay, I questioned it a little. But still.
Why am I so scared now?
Because this is the first time I'm taking my show into a theater.
Well, technically, I've done lots of shows in theaters when my clients rented the theater for their event.
But this is different.
This is a show hosted by the theater. I'm hired by the theater.
This is a new world for me. Everything about it - marketing, agents, auditions, tech staff - is new to me.
It's WAY out of my comfort zone.
Or so my voice says.
Today my voice is not being so kind. Here is what it's saying:
You don't know what you're doing.
What if nobody shows up?
What if they don't laugh?
These are theater people, they expect you to be more than you were yesterday.
I don't know how to be more than I was yesterday.
Now there is lighting and sound - yikes - what do I do with that?
I don't know how to pick a back drop. What if I made the wrong choice?
The stage is so much bigger, where should I stand?
It's being filmed with 11 cameras. That's a lot of angles to expose to the world. No hiding me there.
What if I look stupid?
What if I don't look stupid enough and they don't get the joke?
What if I've gone to all this trouble, and theaters don't want me?
What if my failure is advertised for all the world to see?
What if all the money, time, and energy I invested into this dream is wasted?
What if I let my family down?
So there you go.
And now maybe you can see why I am totally freaking out.
Maybe you know EXACTLY what I am going through because you're standing on a new "stage" yourself and your voice is yelling in your ear too.
Well guess what........
Today's the day we fight back.
It's time to stop the voices.
Yeah. Easier said than done. I know. It's not like you can just say "Shut Up" and expect them to go away.
Or can you?
Well, I think at the very least, we need a big reason for them to be gone.
So here's mine.
A Tiny Whispered Voice
Someone asked me recently if I had a one-word theme for 2020 what would it be?
If you know me, you know that saying anything in just a few words is not easy for me. This blog post is a pretty good clue.
But when she asked me that question, the answer, while not one word, was absolutely positively clear. As clear as if a tiny voice had whispered it right into my soul. And here is what that voice said:
It's time to fly.
And the even stranger thing, was that I knew exactly what it meant and this image popped into my head of me as a giant balloon with my legs and arms tied to the ground while I desperately tried to fly higher. When I looked closer, I saw that all the strings had been cut but one. And this last string was holding me down.
I could feel the desperation of wanting to be set free - to soar.
I was tired of being tied down. I wanted to be up there.
Suddenly the mean voice was gone, and a nice gentle voice was whispering truth. Life is short, it said. You're flying too close to the ground. It's time to cut that string so we can all watch you fly. And when you fly, you will be so high up, that we down here on the ground won't matter anymore. You need to be so high up that you don't see us any more. And up there.....you are truly free. Up there, you just dance for your creator. This is your moment to dance. Say goodbye to us, for today we cut your string.
As soon as I heard those words, and every time I hear them after that, I smile and breathe and can actually feel myself starting to dance.
So today, that voice shouting all these things that I am not - all my fears - all my anxieties - are held in that last string.
Today, I take the scissors and cut it.
And this time, I won't look down.
So Let My Words Be Your Message
I think it's kind of fitting that this is exactly what my theater show is about. And even better, we cut our strings together. Because someone will be sitting in that audience, or maybe even this one today, hearing the same message and knowing it's for YOU.
Life is short. Too short to waste it worrying.
You're flying too close to the ground.
It's time to cut the string.
So we can watch you fly.
Maybe your theme for 2020 will be the same word as mine: