When I was 15, I threw a party and nobody showed up. I wasn’t one of the “cool” kids, but I had what I thought was a reasonably solid group of friends from different cliques in my high school. (Everyone knows who you are when you have a physical disability, and most people will converse with you if they think that you are smart enough to help them with their homework.)
Getting my parents to agree to that party had been a monumental effort. Then I had to invite everyone–also a huge deal for an introvert who with an anxiety disorder. Inviting people or asking them to do things was my worst nightmare.
You might wonder how or why I ended up in a service based business where I spend 3/4 of my day inviting people to meet with me or offering them my services.
Yeah, I wonder too, some days, but the answer is that I’ve already faced down the fear of “No.”
Kids in my school called me “a child” because I was uncomfortable talking about sex, and I didn’t know very much about the popular music kids were listening to. I liked a few bands across different genres, and a lot of my favorite music was from the 60s and 70s. I still watched cartoons.
I was in a wheelchair. I had big, floofy hair that looked like I never combed it, even though I spent hours a day trying to tame the wild curls. Didn’t have the money for expensive styling products.
No matter what I did, there was a reason for someone to make fun of me. So, this party was going to be my game changer, where these kids saw that I was cool and decided that they could accept my differences since I was such an awesome party host.
I ran the whole night through my head, visualized every conversation with the kids at my school, and how they’d be amazed by my powers of Awesomeness.
I was pumped. I invited everyone I could think of and then waited. And waited.
As the chips went stale and I watched the fizz fade out of the drinks, a tight knot formed in the pit of my stomach. No one was going to come.
I could hear them all snickering at me in the back of my mind as my whole body grew hot and flushed from embarrassment. Furious tears coursed down my cheeks, but only for a minute. Then I stuffed all my emotions down and avoided all the kids I’d invited for the rest of my high school career.
That’s what I did with anything that hurt or embarrassed me. I didn’t know any other way to deal with those feelings.
Fast forward to February, 2016. I spent the entire month in a panic. I decided to create a site for trauma survivors, Hardcore Hope. I knew it needed to be self-hosted, so I scraped together the cash for a hosting plan that would allow multiple domains and switched both my sites.
Then I got everything set up for Hardcore Hope, revamped my author site, and froze.
What if I did all this work and spent all this money and nobody showed up? Trauma isn’t exactly a topic that we talk about all the time, and I don’t have a psychology degree, just years of living with and recovering from abuse. I was totally naked out there, telling my story, exposing myself to possible repercussions (even though I use a pseudonym) and I’ve seen misogynists attack feminist bloggers who talk openly about rape and rape culture.
Did I really want to open myself up to that? Yes. I believed in what I was doing.
But what if nobody showed up? What if nobody gave a fuck? Or what if I got accused of lying. That’s happened before.
The fears were out of control. I was terrified that no one would show up, and terrified that people would show up but react badly. To make it more complicated, I have PTSD, and that means my fight or flight response is on overdrive. Even though this had nothing to do with my trauma, my brain overreacts to any fear and start pumping my body full of adrenaline and freaking me out.
Getting through February was like trying to claw my way through a dark, narrow tunnel that went straight up. My fear put me in that tunnel, but it also gave me the adrenaline I needed to pull myself out. Here’s how:
I stopped. Examined my fear. Figured out what was really causing it and whether it had any bsais in my present reality. Since my fear was rooted back to something that happened in my past, I knew that it was probably exaggerated.
I made a list of things I needed to do to make my business happen. Then I made sure that I took consistant in action every day, even if it was small. As time passed, I built on my momentum.
Instead of being paralyzed by what MIGHT happen, I looked at my list and channelled all my adrenaline-based energy into creating what I needed to move my business forward.
Eventually, I pushed through to reach the top of the list, and I found that when I did, the tunnel opened up. I’ve sent out to calls for guest posts, and each time the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive toward both my content and the idea of my site.
But the nature of any creative businesses I always have to start over. So fast-forward again, this time to May 2016.
I decided to do a random series of posts in a couple of my Facebook groups where I talked about how to promote your book without being annoying. I got a lot of positive response and decided to turn it into an online course.
As soon as I started promoting it, I felt the fear again. What if nobody bought? What if they all thought it was stupid? What if they bought it and hated it and want their money back. Then what would I do?
But the funny thing was, this time the fear wasn’t so bad.
Because every time I face of fear, I’m retraining my brain to stop overreacting. I’m teaching myself that I’m safe and fear is an okay thing to feel.
So I put the course out there, ran the free challenge to promote it, got a lot of sign-ups and some really good feedback on the challenge, but the course itself formed. There were no sign-ups at all.
And I’m glad.
Because, I saw that, even when my worst fears come true, it’s not the end of the world. I didn’t die. No one thought I was trying to scam them are or that my content was horrible. It just wasn’t the right offer, or if it was the right offer, it wasn’t the right time. So, this time, when nobody showed up to my party, I knew what to do.
I took a bit of time to regroup, came up with something else, and meanwhile still made sure I showed up every day tag to engage with the members of my group.
Fear isn’t an enemy to be overcome or crushed. It’s a survival mechanism that evolved to keep you safe from harm.
If you are afraid of something (even if it seems irrational) STOP what you’re doing and ask yourself why you’re afraid of it.
Fear is a biological response that dumps a TON of adrenaline into your system. From an evolutionary standpoint, it’s there to give you an energy boost–so that you can either fight or run the fuck away. But you have a third option. Tap into your adrenaline rush and use it to keep going. Get used to that feeling of your heart pounding and your stomach feeling tense. Then open your mind up to the energy it brings and let it push you through what you need to do. You can feel fear without stopping. I do it every day.