When I was six years old, another child in my first grade class was having a birthday party. This was someone that I had played with, so when others started receiving their invitations and I didn’t receive mine, it made perfect sense in my child brain that I should call this girl.
Here is the start of one of those turning point moments. You know the kind – the ones that you somehow remember vividly no matter how many years have past by, the ones that change your outlook so drastically that your mind makes a vow to never forget.
I remember picking the phone up off its cradle (this was a time long before everyone had a cordless phone, let alone a cell phone), hearing the dial tone, punching in the number. When the girl comes to the phone, I ask her where my invitation is. When she says she didn’t invite me, I ask her why. When she says she didn’t want to (the honesty of youth), I say okay thanks and hang up the phone. The first ego smackdown you remember is a major ouch.
But at the ripe old age of six, I learned a lesson. While it hurt my feelings and I promised never to exclude someone else (hello empathy), I also received closure. I put myself out there and got an answer – whether I appreciated the answer I received or not. It never occurred to me at that age that I was being vulnerable. The only thing that made sense was that I had a question and I wanted an answer.
I’m not sure when it happens, when is it that we let the fear creep in – the fear of judgement, the fear of exclusion, the fear of being vulnerable. In today’s reading, we are asked to share, to reach out to others and be open to exchanges of energy – but for a lot of us that’s easier said than done.
We’ve heard the advice and read the tips or tricks – don’t take it personally, start small, commit to putting yourself out there with one thing, practice so you feel more confident. But honestly, the one thing that has always made it easier for me to put myself out there has been motivation. It boils down to how bad do I want it. How badly do I want to start my own business? How badly do I want to pursue what interests me regardless of what others think? How badly do I want to live authentically me even if I am being judged by others?
I’m not saying it’s easy or that by simply wanting something bad enough you will be able to put yourself out there. All I know is that when I fear what might happen or what others might think or if I should or shouldn’t, I think back to that little six-year old girl punching in numbers so that she can get answers.