We don't need enemies or frenemies, or things that go bump in the night. We have ourselves— saboteurs of plans and smashers of hope.
The person muttering under her breath that I won't be able to do something and am foolish to try is me. So's the woman who declares my work derivative, compares my butt to urban sprawl, and hints my cats have fleas.
I'm not alone. At The Fearful Adventurer blog, Torre DeRoche takes down her biggest and baddest critic via an essay: "What If Your Biggest Naysayer Is You." Read it. Now.
Did you laugh at the line "I look like a douche when I do yoga!" For years, I refused to join an exercise class for fear others would smirk and point their fingers when they noticed my sense of rhythm is missing in action.
When I finally signed up, a fellow exerciser showed me how foolish I'd been. She might dress in don't-look-at-me colors like gray and beige, but when the music starts, she jumps, kicks, and throws punches like a ninja.
Not all her punches are synchronized to the music and her kicks don't reach the height of the Rockettes', but she's moving her body, gaining the health benefits of exercise, and, judging by her ferocity, she takes out an army of enemies and frenemies every morning. Before breakfast.
Most importantly, no one cares what she looks like. Remember Lark Howard's post of January 9 and the advice she got from a friend? "Nobody cares what you’re wearing, they care what they’re wearing. Unless you look fabulous or horrible, nobody notices." That advice applies to more than clothes. In fact, it applies to almost everything in life. No one cares about how you look when you do squats or your skills as a teacher, insurance adjustor, travel agent, or writer unless you screw up or are so skilled you inspire teeth-gnashing envy.
It's liberating to know we operate under the radar. Sure, our mothers and friends might know of our progress—or lack thereof, but most people don't notice and don't care.
We're the ones scaring ourselves, and we have to quit it. At the end of his post listing twenty-five things writers should stop doing, Chuck Wendig offers this advice:
"Fear will kill you dead. You’ve nothing to be afraid of that a little preparation and pragmatism cannot kill. Everybody who wanted to be a writer and didn’t become one failed based on one of two critical reasons: one, they were lazy, or two, they were afraid. Let’s take for granted you’re not lazy. That means you’re afraid. Fear is nonsense. What do you think is going to happen? You’re going to be eaten by tigers?"
The tigers we invent are the fiercest, most intimidating of all. To defeat them, we have to jump, kick, and throw punches like ninjas. A lady I know manages that without a lot of coordination, rhythm, or brute force.
She's unself-conscious and fearless. She's awesome.
We can be, too.