Let Go of Fear and Become Your Most Amazing Self
When I was 5 years old, I discovered delicious cookies!
I started using them to calm my fears (it didn’t work).
When I was 13, I discovered alcohol!
Yep, I used whiskey and beer to calm my fears. For 13 years. (Those didn’t work either).
What were the fears I needed to quiet so desperately?
I dreaded being rejected or abandoned.
I also became a people pleaser to avoid those situations ever happening (that REALLY didn’t work).
I was afraid of confrontation and couldn’t stand up for myself.
To say I lacked confidence was putting it mildly.
And I had no idea what self-love was.
When I was in first grade, two older boys would choke me for fun. I was terrified to go to school and hated recess (when they cornered me). I finally told someone and they stopped.
I don’t remember whom I told but I’m still amazed that I finally did.
I was bullied by mean girls in eighth grade and three years of high school.
Back then, I’d wonder why they chose me to terrorize.
Now I know that those bullies spotted me immediately –
I had zero self-esteem and oozed self-doubt. I was a perfect target.
Here’s a shocker – I lived a double life – I got straight A’s, I was a cheerleader, and I was in a professional ballet company in high school. I did team sports and took every single athletic class my mom could find to sign me up for (she thought it would cure my “shyness”). I also had some amazing best friends (my lifelong female friendships carried me through some of my toughest times).
Reading this, you’re probably like, wow why didn’t you ask a trusted adult for help with the bullies? Or how on earth can you be relatively successful as a child and adolescent but still hate yourself? (Yes, hate).
If you have to ask that, you might not ever understand. Maybe this will help explain – I was so steeped in fear, there was no way in hell I was gonna come clean to anyone and tell them the daily dread I felt being in the world (I never told anyone until I was 26).
It came down to a choice of continuing on or just giving up (I wasn’t at the point of giving up). I simply lived in fear.
Fear became my way of life. I learned how to pretty much fake my way through everything (not an entirely bad skill!).
Plus, I didn’t have clarity on what I was experiencing back then like I do now. I kinda knew I didn’t have confidence and I sorta knew I wanted it, but it was all so murky. I was just trying to get through life without getting into too much trouble.
By the time I was five, I’d learned to “power on through.”
For a looooong time, I maintained the deep-seated belief that if I could fake my confidence and get everyone to like me, I’d be much less afraid on a day-to-day basis. And if I could achieve this in one situation, I knew I could do it in the next challenging condition (also not an entirely bad skill).
I was never searching for a permanent solution; I was simply trying to endure. Survive.
When someone didn’t like me, it only reinforced what I already believed about myself.
So I ate more sugar, drank a lot more alcohol, and went further inside myself with my secret of self-hatred.
If any adult in my life would’ve had a clue back then, they could have helped me immensely.
It’s not like I was living in a bubble – my parents and teachers knew about the bullying and the drinking, but curiously, no one reached out to me.
In support of them (no seriously!), I had become a proficient liar. When you live a double life, you have to be a skilled con artist.
I got into a good college and even got my Master’s degree.
In psychology lol.
I entered therapy because I knew to live a double life was gonna trip me up someday soon.
(I’d already had run-ins with lots of people – best friends, roommates, strangers, cops – but always avoided any major “outside” consequences).
Ready for another shocker?
When I was 26, the Universe woke me up.
The best way I can explain it is that the teacher appeared when the student was ready.
And my blinders were removed.
I realized I wasn’t crazy like my ex-boyfriend’s friends used to tell me, I wasn’t (too) broken, and I didn’t have a personality disorder. Lol.
I’d just completely lost myself in my fear.
When you let your life be run by fear, there’s no way you can get the courage you need to be the successful person deep down that you dream of being.
I didn’t want to be a fraud anymore, I didn’t want to pretend I had confidence, I no longer wanted to live a double life!
I wanted to achieve my real dreams (I dreamed of writing a New York Times bestseller since I was 7!).
I wanted to be whole.
I wanted to find me and be me.
I wanted to finally feel and exude genuine confidence.
I decided then and there that fear was no longer going to rule my life.
I resolved to be courageous when my fears popped up,
and I’ve never looked back.
Of course, success over my fears didn’t happen overnight.
I returned to school and earned my doctorate in psychology.
I learned how to help people who struggled as I did.
I became the person for them that I needed way back when.
And I got good at what I did.
Because I knew what it was like to struggle. Really struggle.
I got back into therapy, devoted myself to 12-step groups, read a ton of self-help books, did every free course on the planet, and did what anyone who had the life I wanted told me to do.
Easy to write in a few sentences but “getting better” for me – getting and staying sober, finding and being my true self, developing social skills (spoken like a true psychologist!), learning how to behave in good relationships, discovering my intuition and trusting it, learning how to find good people to have in my life, acquiring the ability to treat my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self with love (I had to start with like) – these were all lifetime journeys that I’m still on and will always be on.
So, yes, I’ve never looked back, and I have few regrets.
I’ve been working on myself relentlessly for 25 years.
I’m now in a place where I know who I am, and I love who I am.
It took years for me to say that I love myself.
But I finally learned what self-love is.
The confidence lessened some fears and took others completely away.
And the more confidence I gain, the less fear I have.
I’m goin’ after my dreams of being a speaker and NY Times bestselling author!
I’m a Board Certified Life Coach for female entrepreneurs (that’s a whole other story describing the incredible journey of becoming an online businesswoman).
The roller coaster ride of creating your own self-esteem – the tears, the fears, the joy, the victories – it starts to level out, and you’ll look back on each passing year and be amazed at your progress.
Delving into working on yourself, committing to your success (however YOU define it), going after your dreams that make you wanna stay up all night and achieve “just one more” task – it’s totally worth it.
And it just keeps gettin’ better and better.