One of my friends from the East Coast sent me a wonderful FB (Facebook) message this morning, and this evening! 🙂 It always feels so good when we catch up; it feels both like an energy lift & an energy cleanse.
When I was writing back to her, I also had many mini epiphanies on different things about myself & different ways to help me increase my focus, to get past road blocks & to work towards overcoming fears. Great morning conversation, right? 🙂 It was a great way to start my day. 🙂
My energy was hugely different from yesterday. Yesterday I was tired & easily irritable, and today I felt so chipper and had so much energy. I felt happy while working, while doing whatever. 🙂
Every conversation you have with someone, with a friend, a family member, a stranger, the person at the bookstore, the person you buy your coffee from, the person at the grocery store —every person is an opportunity for a new experience, a new conversation, a new chance for you to expand your mind & opportunities, and new chance for you to learn something new about yourself, the person you’re talking to and the world.
I went out to the bookstore tonight and had a nice conversation longer than the usual thank you & good night with the guy who rang me up. He asked me how my night was going & I responded with something a little more specific than a fine & thank you, and then genuinely asked him about his night. We started talking about the bookstore, living in Petaluma and our love for books. It was nice. It reminded me of a conversation I had with the lady who served me ice cream at the frozen yogurt store a few months ago. I asked her how she spent Halloween and at first she only said that she went out to dinner, but then we continued to talk and I found out that she flew to NYC to go out to dinner with her fiance, who she met at college, and that he was going to move to the West Coast so they could live together. I ended up finding out a lot more about her. And as she continued to share more, she became more open, more excited and her energy lifted.
It’s those conversations, small or large, with strangers or friends that are the most rewarding and energy lifting. And those conversations are most likely to happen when we’re willing to be more open, to be more open with ourselves, so we can be more open with others.
And sometimes it’s scary. It’s definitely outside of the comfort zone for many, and it’s often outside of my comfort zone. When I start getting in my head, when I start to let self-doubt trinkle in, when I start to focus on and feed my insecurities, I get wrapped up in myself and the last thing I want to do is open myself up to a stranger or passerby.
It was just a couple of months ago that I was very much living in my head. I’ve been taking classes at the local JC to defer my student loans during the spring and fall semesters since I graduated from college. I’ve been taking online classes because I don’t like being restricted by a set schedule. This past semester I decided to take in-person classes so I could be more social, so I could be more out in the world, away from my computer, and so I could make some new hometown friends. It was my way of making myself more open. This past semester, I was the opposite of open. An ironic twist to my goal. 🙂 I definitely gave off the energy of being closed off and it didn’t feel good.
I realized that although I wanted to be more open, although I wanted to be out & involved in the world more, that maybe taking in-person classes at the JC wasn’t the best way for me to get the social balance that I needed. The age range is diverse, as well as the people, but the students are predominantly younger, and right out of high school. It’s not just the age gap, but it’s the experiences that make connecting to someone at that age different. Some people I meshed really well with, and other people I felt more like a role model than a friend, or like a shiny toy to be looked at as opposed to a person.
But I also realized that I didn’t want to be taking classes, not just in-person classes, but I didn’t want to have to take classes at all. I know what I want to do with my life. I have a focused idea, driven by my passions, that allows room for change and evolution of how I’ll live my life, and I felt like I was wasting my time taking classes on a fixed schedule that wasn’t adding to where I wanted to go in life.
I took fun classes, but I saw them as wasting time. I took Photoshop. It was really interesting. It was fun. I learned a lot. I often use that knowledge and apply it to online things that I do. But I wasn’t passionate about it. I missed two classes. I sometimes came in late. I didn’t do two assignments and I turned in some assignments late. I didn’t pass that class. I was setting myself up for failure by taking it. I signed myself up for a time consuming class that needed a lot of my attention when I didn’t have a lot of time to give it and when my attention was focused elsewhere, on my passion projects. I felt bad every time I walked in late. I felt bad about turning in an assignment late. Sometimes that class made me feel like a bad person, a disrespectful person, not a good student.
I had debates with myself, I know what I want to do with my life, and that wasn’t it. What am I doing with my time? I’m giving in to this societal constructed behavior that defines my character as a human being by how I do in this class. It’s ridiculous. I already graduated from college, I’m done with school, at least the standard idea of school. When I signed up for online web design classes with the JC right after I graduated, I was excited for them. I was a great student. I put in extra work and went overboard for each assignment, but that was because I wanted to learn that. When I want to learn something, I’ll go to books, I’ll research it online, I’ll ask an expert, I’ll sign up for classes & maybe take online classes. And learning isn’t just confined to schooling, living is learning. Going outside of your comfort zone is learning. I’ve always had a hard time doing well in school with subjects and classes that I wasn’t passionate about or saw as a waste of time. It was hard for me to follow guidelines when I saw other options and other paths of doing things. My first year in college, I think I had the right mindset, people are what is important. Experiences are what is important. Conversations are what is important. I learned more about others, the world and myself in my first year of college through taking the time to get to know and talk with people. My senior year, I was incredibly busy. I regret making myself too busy and allowing myself to stress out too much on school work.
At the same time, back to the JC classes, I didn’t want the whole experience to be negative. I wasn’t a victim and sometimes I allowed myself to get into a victim mindset. At times I had to remind myself to make the most out of everything. I was paying to learn this really cool program that I had that could really benefit me. I might as well make the most of it, and try to take the time to enjoy it. When I began to open up my energy, I started conversations with the people in the classroom, and it was a diverse classroom, from people in their teens to people probably in the 60s or 70s.
Although I didn’t want to be taking classes, once I stopped playing the victim and found the joy in my circumstances as a student, the joy in the situations I put myself in — once I opened up my energy to the possibility of positive experiences and opportunities, the school, the classes and the people opened up to me.
It was a great learning experience. It was a great transition period of seeing myself closed off and then making myself open up.
There’s positive opportunity in every situation, even the most horrific — there’s something we can learn from them if we open ourselves up for that opportunity to see beyond our fear, our doubts, our insecurities.
I think being vulnerable is one of the biggest fears that hold me back, and it’s one of the biggest fears that I see hold others back from doing what they want, from living an exciting life. Putting yourself out there to be rejected from a job, by a person, having someone tell you no, not today, you’re not right for this position — you’re writing will not be accepted, your painting, photography, film is not good enough, it’s not what we’re looking for — you weren’t selected for this contest, for this grant, whatever it is.
I’m the thing that holds me back. From not going out by myself, not making that phone call, not calling in for a prescription, not calling in to modify my loans, not going into the city more, not trying X, Y or Z. I get these images in my head that if I do X, Z will be awkward, will say no — I’ll feel uncomfortable, I won’t know what to do. I’ll be putting myself in a situation that will make me vulnerable.
Any fear that I have is greatly exaggerated, and mostly unfounded — especially my fears of going out by myself or trying new things. I lived in Spain by myself for about 4 to 5 months while I was studying abroad. I made a point to not always hang around with my classmates, during breaks I traveled by myself, to Sitges, Barcelona and Madrid. I stayed at a gay hostel and when approached by a friendly looking flamboyant male while sitting at the community computer, I talked with him, then joined him and his friends in their room, and drank with them from 11 am until 1 am, and went out dancing with them, and then spent the next day with them. While in Sitges, I went out to bars, clubs, the parades, to restaurants by myself. I went everywhere by myself. At a drag bar, I started conversations with first the bartender, then fellow onlookers and ended up dancing and laughing with 40 and 50 year old men and women. I bought a one-way ticket to Virginia last March and backpacked (bused/trained/drove) along the East Coast for 2 months. I stayed with friends, with friends of friends and lived with some semi-strangers in communal environments. I adapted and took on the lives of who I was living with at times, and explored on my own at other times.
If I was able to do that, sometimes without fear, and sometimes with a lot of fear, then it’s silly for me to be afraid to do things 30 times less bold now. It’s quite ridiculous how I can crawl back up into living in my head and within my comfort zone and blow small things out of proportion and put them on this pedestal of fear.
I used to be terrified of planes. I turned down a free trip to Las Vegas when I was younger to visit one of my aunts and uncles and some of my favorite cousins. I would have flown out with my sister, instead she went by herself. I was terrified of death, of crashing. In 8th grade, I got on a plane to surprise my oldest sister for her last college soccer game. I think that was my first flight on a big plane. My previous plane history was on a small plane around the Bay Area when I was about 5, and my first plane flight was when I was in the stomach of my mom, unborn, flying to and back from a family reunion in New Mexico. Once I started college, in Virginia, I was flying often. I’m not scared of planes any more.
One of my other fears, spiders. I’m still scared of spiders, but I’m less scared. I went in the attic yesterday, which has its nice amount of webs. I put small spiders outside, on napkins, on pieces of paper, on mail, or pages of magazines. If a very very very small baby spider is on me, I don’t scream, and view it as an ant, and wait patiently as it crawls off my hand onto a leaf or onto the ground.
Sharks. Ever since I saw Jaws when I was around 5 or 6 (the same time I saw arachnophobia) I was terrified of not only sharks, but the water. At that age I was terrified to take a shower. I would spin around, standing in the shower tub, envisioning great whites jumping out at me through the shower walls, swimming in the ether space inside the walls of my house. Eventually I got over that, but my fear was for all water, pools, oceans, rivers. That fear has also lessened considerably, but it’s still one I want to work on.
One thing I’ve realized about fears is that they can help make life more exciting when you confront them, either more exciting or less scary. The more I face my fears, the less scary they become, for example, spiders. And if it’s a fear like going out by myself, one that pushes my comfort zone, confronting those fears can lead to excitement, new opportunities and amazing experiences that I never would have imagined or planned.
This self-love post went on a lot of different tangents, but back to the beginning, my FB messaging back and forth with my friend this morning — it made me realize a new goal for myself, really tackling my fears head on & releasing the tension and anxiety that I give those fears. I truly want to work on living outside of my comfort zone. My experiences in Spain, on backpacking the East Coast, all of my experiences where I pushed through my comfort zone, life was a hell of a lot more exciting, I learned a lot more, I experienced a lot more, more doors were opened, and all of this happened, living outside of my comfort zone happened because I was open to it. I opened myself up to the opportunity.
Something I want to start doing while I’m still in my hometown. I want to treat it like it’s a new place. I want to treat my hometown like I’m in a foreign country & living by myself. I want to explore more and go out by myself. If I was in a new place, I would make a point to leave my hostel, my hotel room, my friends house, and go outside and explore the city, see and experience something new. I would kick myself in the head if I wasn’t capitalizing on the opportunity to experience something new, if I wasn’t capitalizing on the opportunity to make the most of my experience. Why should living at home make a difference and stop me from living my life with excitement? Why should being surrounded by my comfort zone stop me from living outside of it? It shouldn’t.
Some new goals I have are to make a list of what I’m afraid of, a list of what’s holding me back to really move forward in life, and a list of things I would want to do if I was visiting and exploring my hometown for the first time. And then I want to tackle those fears, those things holding me back and I want to live outside of my comfort zone.
“Everything you can imagine is real.” -Pablo Picasso
Everything, the sharks I imagined swimming in my walls at 5; the plane flight from SF to Las Vegas crashing when I was around 10. There were no sharks in my walls and that plane didn’t crash, but in my mind it was the truth. That was my reality. I was letting those fears and thoughts take control of my life. “Everything you can imagine is real.” Your fears become real and hold you back in life. Your insecurities become real and you begin to believe that you’re not worth it. “Everything you can imagine is real.” Flip this around. Imagine you are beautiful. Imagine you are capable of anything. Imagine you can love yourself and your body. Imagine you can impact the world. Imagine you can make a difference. “Everything you can imagine is real.” Your thoughts define how you live your life.
How would you be living you life if you imagined you loved yourself? If you imagined you were capable of anything?
“Everything you can imagine is real.”
Start imagining yourself living the life that you want.
Emelina Minero writes for Curve Magazine and EDGE Media Network. She’s working on launching her own progressive LGBTQ publication. She’s a Connection Connoisseur, Networking Maven and Self-Love Enthusiast. She founded Community Bucket List and co-founded the Love Warrior Community. Find her on Twitter, @CommKr8veWriter.
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