The Stories I Tell ~ from The Word Cellar

Stories. Anecdotes. A free round of words for everyone!

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Location: Pennsylvania, United States

I love stories. I'm the one at social functions with a dozen new anecdotes. But I worry about hogging the conversation. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be quiet and let others do the talking. But no matter how hard I try, my stories insist on bursting out! Here I can let my stories (the classics that I tell again and again, as well as new ones that unfold along the way) run free. I'm a professional writer and editor, and sole proprietor of The Word Cellar. I write for a variety of publications and clients on everything from green buildings and nuclear reactors to entrepreneurship and the arts. If you need words written, edited, or enlivened, I can help. Contact me.


That Pesky Fear

Sometimes I think that life is a series of mini-post traumatic stress episodes. We live in so much fear. It usually surfaces as stress, irritability, distractedness. We think maybe we're tired or just having a bad day or week or year. Underneath it all, I think we're mostly scared.

A few nights ago I ventured back out into the world of business networking. There was a time in my life when I did this regularly. It was part of my day job working with women entrepreneurs. Later it became a way to grow my own freelance writing business. I like people and have the ability to talk to almost anyone about almost anything. But I can’t eat, breathe, and sleep business nonstop, which is what I was forced to do for far too long. So while the networking was valuable and sometimes even enjoyable, I got burnt out on it.

So for the last 18 months or so, I've been dormant. I quit my day job and crawled over into a corner to recuperate and refresh. And of course, my word of mouth referrals slowed to a trickle. I knew that I needed to get back “out there” and start connecting with people again. But the mere idea of it exhausted me.

Why should it? After all, I already admitted that I like talking with people. One word: Fear.

Because I'd stopped actively networking at the same time that I was mentally and physically tapped out, my fight-or-flight mind connected the two. I subtly started to hate the idea of going to business events because I feared losing myself again. Rationally, I knew this didn't have to happen. Viscerally, I was the victim of a mini-trauma.

Not long ago I laid out a loose plan to generate more business, and of course networking was on the list. Lo and behold, the perfect event showed up on the calendar for this week. How convenient.

Oh how I hemmed and hawed. I came up with every excuse not to go. The weather forecast called for rain during the hour drive there and back. I didn't have any clean business attire. I didn’t even know if it would be a beneficial event. As I threw out these excuses, I saw a look of disapproval cross my husband’s face. A moment later I realized that I was seeing a mirror of my own disappointment for chickening out.

So I rooted through my closet and found some clothes that weren’t jeans and a sweater. The weather cooperated and only rained on the way home. I overcame my fear and was rewarded. I rekindled old connections and made a few new ones. I even met a few people face-to-face after only "knowing" them over the phone. And there are new business prospects on the horizon, some related to the event, some not. (I have a theory that work breeds work, but that's a post for another day.)

I did my best to talk myself out of going to that event. I almost let mini-post traumatic stress get in the way of a good experience.

How are you talking yourself out of something good?


add to kirtsy | 11:58 PM


Blogger bella said...

This hit home for me.
I'm quite skilled at this, as talking myself out of things I really do want.
Sometimes I even have to let myself consider worse case scenario of the fear, let it play out. Then I realize even the worse case isn't that bad. So why not?
For me, it all comes back to the black/white either/or thinking I get sucked into all to easily. Just loosening a bit, seeing it as something I can do and if I like it great, if not, oh well, it takes the pressure off that I have placed there.
Glad to hear you went out and even had some fun.
This was an inspiration to me.

2/08/2008 11:19 AM  
Blogger Lex said...

Congrats on talking yourself into doing it!

I am afraid to change my career. I manage to talk myself out of it so often, thinking I'll stick out this job for just a few more months...

Maybe one day I'll get brave.

Take care,

2/08/2008 2:23 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Wow! This is a most excellent post. I really think you're onto something here.

For some time now I have longed to have no obligations. I've reordered my life and schedule so that I'm doing things on MY terms. While some of this is healthy, I believe it can be taken to extreme. Like the dormant life you mentioned.

Although for me, it may not be fear, but lack of energy. (Or fear of what will be REQUIRED of me if I do get out there - or what I'll be EXPOSED to...and then not want to give my energy to that.) I've been told I have vicarious PTSD. This is common in helping professions. Yikes!

So, the key to find the balance of good self care and putting ourselves out in the world so that good things/energy/work can come our way. Right?

Again, I always do better when I have someone else to do these things with. If left up to my own desires, I'll likely stay on the couch, in the bed, or in front of the compute!

Here's to challenging each other to "out" ourselves more and let life happen to us!!!

2/08/2008 5:02 PM  
Blogger Jennifer/The Word Cellar said...

**Bella: I'm glad this post inspired you. I like your idea of "just loosening a bit." This is something that I definitely need to do more often.

**Lex: I know that very same fear all too well. Email me if you want a pep talk and all the reasons why you should be brave! :) Or if you just want the ear of someone who's been through a similar struggle.

**Lisa: I think you've hit on a key issue: having a sidekick to help keep us motivated and active. I'm so used to doing things alone. And yet, it can be so much nicer - and easier - with two. It's harder to hide away from the world (the unhealthy kind of hiding away) when there's someone to support us.

2/08/2008 11:13 PM  
Blogger Lulu said...

I can "what if" myself into a frenzy if I'm not careful. What if I get hurt or embarrassed or ignored or who knows what else. The truth of it is though that something wonderful is just as likely to happen. It's the not knowing that assists me in to procrastinating my way right out of grand opportunities. Dealing with "what if"s is far better than the regret of "I wish I would have".

(I left you a little something at my blog. Go by and pick it up at your leisure.)

2/11/2008 4:19 PM  

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