How to Actually Do the Thing that Scares the Bejesus Out of You

So those of you who regularly read this blog will know that I can be a bit of a joke-cracker.

It seems there are some days when I can’t get a sentence out without some kind of cheeky quip thrown in. Sometimes it’s almost like a tic I can’t control.

I’ve also been known to crack jokes in places that miiiiight be considered…appropriate.

blog - greece

Recently I decided to take my joke-cracking to the place it belongs.

The comedy stage.

I excitedly signed up for an open mic night that would occur a few nights later, wrote up my five minute set of jokes, and then…

…spent the next several days with the bejesus scared out of me.

I fretted and obsessed and visualized what it would be like – how hollow and dark it would feel – if I told my jokes and nobody laughed.

The morning of the show I thought about bailing out. That night, as I headed over to the club, I thought about bailing out. While sitting at the club and waiting for my turn, I thought about bailing out.

But I never bailed out.

Now, despite how great it would be to say otherwise, this had nothing to do with my own gumption. It was because Hubbie didn’t let me.

He held firm, reminding me how much I’d regret it if I didn’t do it. He said it would be fine…that I’d be funny. And, if I wasn’t funny, it would be fine anyway.

Wow, you might be thinking, this Hubbie character sure knew the right words to say. Quite a guy!

And while yes, he’s quite a guy, it’s not quite that simple.

Hubbie knew the right words to say because I told him the words to say back when I’d predicted that I’d want to bail out.

Here’s the thing.

We all have things we want to do that take us squarely out of our comfort zone. That scare the bejesus out of us.

  • We want to start our own business
  • We want to audition for our first musical
  • We want to go to a foreign country
  • We want to break-up with someone

Whether trying something new that’s uncertain…or leaving something current that is certain, heading into the unknown – even if we know deep down it’s something we must try – can be terrifying.

And so, far too often, when we get really close to doing it, we bail out.

I’ve written before that, in fearful moments like this, I often invoke a favorite (slightly modified) quote from writer Julia Cameron:

Leap and the net will appear.

Today I write about the fact that, sometimes, it’s not always about us leaping off the cliff.

Sometimes, when we get close to doing it and then consider bailing out, it’s about someone pushing us.

Now, as you might expect, there are a few rules to this pushing-off-the-cliff thing:

  1. The pusher must be chosen with absolute, pristine care. This isn’t about their opinions. Instead, they will push you because you have asked them to and they believe in your judgment.
  2. The pusher must be told explicitly about their role, and given the words to say when you consider bailing out. You know yourself – and what words will work – best.
  3. The pusher must check in with you as you near your leap so that they can assess whether or not you’re considering a bail-out and, if so, speak the words you prescribed in #2, And when they do check-in you must engage. No blow-offs here!
  4. The pusher must be told to give you lots of support whenever the leaping happens, and however it turns out. After all, leaping takes courage and you’re awesome for even thinking about doing it in the first place.

There’s a good chance that, right at this moment, there’s something brewing in you that might require a leap. And it might just scares the bejesus out of you.

Know that, the closer you get to leaping, the more you may need someone to push you. And, even if you don’t, it would still be great to have them there, high-fiving you along the way.

Either way, once you leap, there’s no telling how far you’ll fly.

Or how many people will actually laugh at your jokes.

Which they did. When I finally got on stage.

comedy stage

Now go do good…and do it well.

 

8 thoughts on “How to Actually Do the Thing that Scares the Bejesus Out of You

  1. Doug Hegebarth says:

    Do we see a career change coming in your future? Watch out Trevor Noah!

    1. Ha! Not likely – the comedy thing is fun, but I don’t think I’d love putting myself out there like that every day. But thanks for the confidence in me!

  2. Alisa says:

    Excellent advice on empowering your support person and script in the excitement of your new adventure, way before the second thoughts inevitably creep in. In my fearful, agitated hours of preparation before a public forum running for City Council, my husband simply said “it’s time to put on your game face.” Being a stage musician, this captured his worldview and spoke to my heart. My head followed, I calmed down, clarity arrived and I seriously enjoyed the debate.

    1. That’s great, Alisa! How fortunate that your husband knew the right words to say at the right time…without any prompting. Good man! 🙂

  3. Patty says:

    Thank you Deirdre for hopeful encouragement. Facing our fear and doing it anyway is the way to go and having a good support person like Hubbie is vital.

    1. Absolutely Patty! Being willing to face the fear is critical…and so is having the right person to help you do it when you want to stop. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Jim Tenuto says:

    Well…were you funny?

    1. You’d have to ask the people in the seats, but Hubbie swears they were laughing (it was all a big, blobby blur to me!)

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