You know that noise you make when you do or say something you regret? Like when you're talking crap about someone in a moment of weakness, and you turn around and they're standing right behind you? You know that noise? The slight gagging. Or maybe a small gasp of a, "no", or possibly an, "oh God" escapes? Well, that's the noise I've been making a lot recently.
The second I hit "publish" on anything I write, I have diarrhea (metaphorically.....sort of). I've been told that unless I feel a little bit nauseous, I'm not putting myself out there. Well, baby, I guess I'm out there, because I haven't stopped dry heaving and power sweating in months. It's a vulnerability hangover.
I've felt the flop sweat consume me a few times recently, the latest of which was after I was a guest contributor on an anxiety podcast (#kelliwalker). The closer things hit to home, the more electrolytes and saltines I'm going to need that day. It amazes me that no matter how often I put myself out there, my body doesn't get used to it. I love Brene Brown (full of grace) and all of her vulnerability malarkey, but please, for Christ's sake, find an antidote to this reaction. If not for my sake, for Christ's sake.
Today, I'm having THAT day. The "What If" day.
What if I'm putting something out there that is just utter crap? What if I don't know what I'm talking about? What if the thing I think is emotional, poetic and deep, is actually overwrought, overkill and cringe-worthy? What if I write something for someone, and miss the mark completely? Oh God...what if I'm not funny?
<today's what-ifs are brought to you by my inferiority complex.>
One of my worst fears (right up there with heart attacks and spider eggs in my ears) is the scene from Wedding Crashers where Craig and Christina exchange sailing vows: "Through sickness and in health, clear skies and squalls...to be your anchor and your sail, your starboard and your port..." and everyone thinks they're idiots. It's my fifth worst fear (right below surprise parties and people finding out that I do, in fact, poop) because what's worse than putting yourself out there in a new and original way, only to be laughed at? Actually, it's such a fear, that I even hate it when other people put themselves out there too. Clearly what you're doing affects me directly because I'm red-faced for you, and you're forcing me to nervous eat...stop embarrassing us!
For me, it's not the performance anxiety of writing or doing a podcast, per se, it's the three days of wallowing in sorrow, and neuroticism that accompany it. I don't know about you, but when I put myself on the line, I eventually find myself laying on my apartment floor, staring at the ceiling listening to Katy Perry's "Roar" until I'm well enough to order pizza to soothe myself. DeFazio's understand me. They keep asking me to stop giving them hugs, but still, I know they get me.
Being vulnerable doesn't feel cathartic or rewarding or brave in the least. It feels like I'm about to get my head chopped off by Henry VIII, and I can't think of a good one-liner to go out on. Geez. Imagine that performance anxiety? Someone was literally sitting there with a quill waiting for you to say something awesome right before you become about a head shorter. What if you asked for your mommy or exclaimed that you just shat your pants? #ohgod
So. What now? I've put something out into the world. I'm in "the arena." I'm feeling wicked vulnerable, horribly neurotic, mildly narcissistic, and terribly nauseous...what do I do now?
Nothing. Everything. I keep going. I sweat it out. I drink wine in the park. I hold my head as high as I can, and I try not to apologize. I gave something of myself, and that's more than many people do. I just have to keep putting my pants on one leg at a time (if I remember) and get out of the house. The sharp edges of strong emotions always erode to soft and blurry. They just always do.
Your vulnerable thing might be getting to that 9am yoga class where all the skinny girls go. Or sitting to write the to-do list before you go on that trip. Or going to the grocery store, even though you think everyone is looking at you. Or standing up for yourself at the doctor's. Or moving. Or apologizing. Or doing a podcast. Or writing something for a friend.
Whatever makes you feel exposed and slightly nauseous, do it. It sucks, and you're going to sweat. A. Lot. But even if you end up face down battered and beaten, it's better than doing nothing. Put yourself out there, because unless you do, you'll never know how awesome it feels to be this hung over.