Have you ever received a challenging invitation? Where were you invited or what were you invited to do? Did you jump at the invite or were you hesitant to say yes?
I received an invitation well over a year ago that I ignored and delayed accepting. After returning from India, however, it became apparent that it's time to make a choice. It's yes or no. I can no longer sit in the in-between contemplating or delaying. It's time to either accept it or move on because the inviter would like an answer.
Most recently, the invite came in the form of a business leader's request for help solving a problem.
"In one day I had to turn away 200 people looking for a job," he said to the approximately 200 of us in the room.
I sat in the back of the room that evening feeling convicted as I tried to contain my sadness and tears. I was angry at my lack of action, and at that moment, I felt the heaviness of the responsibility I neglected for over a year. I wrestled with my emotions and my now keen awareness that my own fear and hesitation were not only holding me back, it was also preventing this organization's ability to hire more women that need a way out of poverty and human trafficking. I silently acknowledged that I had the power to do something about it and I was long overdue.
I ended 2018 with grand plans for UnKajed Thoughts (UKT), plans to turn it into a business and a movement that would support the work being done to free women and children from exploitation and lift their families out of poverty.
The vision I had and where I thought it would lead, if successful, made me nervous. I allowed distractions to get in the way, so much so that more than a year later I have to admit that I made almost no tangible progress in bringing this vision to fruition last year. Today's messaging tells me "it's never too late," "I should give myself grace, not be too hard on myself," but I finally grew tired of my own BS and no longer felt okay accepting and excusing my complacency and lack of progress.
So, at the end of 2019, I finally ordered the shirts for the t-shirt campaign I mentioned in my last post.
But why did it have to take a trip across the globe to India and then a 4-hour roundtrip drive to Cincinnati (while still jetlagged) for a Freeset event the week after my return to wake up and see all the ways I was self-sabotaging because of a weird fear of success?
Are you silently asking yourself, "Really...Who is afraid of success?"
Yeah, yeah, I know. It's pretty silly, right?
It certainly required some exploring, so I asked myself, "What scares me about success in this space? What am I really afraid of? Why am I so hesitant?"
While no journey or path looks exactly the same, when I look at examples of other people who pursue a similar path, I see a similar outcome. Blogger builds an audience. The blog turns into a business. Blogger becomes a speaker. That alone makes me want to run in the opposite direction!
Although speaking engagements are a major revenue stream for entrepreneurs and a great way to bring awareness to what they do, public speaking is a huge fear of mine and I have zero interest in doing it. 95% of the time, I go out of my way to avoid speaking to groups of people. If you want to know what happens to me when I have to speak or present, go read Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. She explains it so accurately and beautifully that I will not make an attempt to explain it myself (it involves poop, in case you were wondering).
My fear of speaking is intensified by the fact that I feel a pull to share my story of sexual trauma. Of all the people you know who publicly share their stories of trauma, how many of them do you think actually enjoy being vulnerable with strangers and rehashing the crappy stuff they've been through? I'll bet the answer is none, and the sole motivation is their belief that their sharing serves a bigger purpose and helps someone else.
When I move past the discomfort of speaking and being seen, I look at how some of these blogs and businesses grow and I think to myself, "Do I want to manage all that? Do I really want all of that responsibility?" My husband and I already do so much that I'm in a constant state of craving a simpler, slower, more normal life. This path leads to anything but a slow, simple, normal life and I'm slowly learning to accept and embrace it.
What makes pursuing this feel especially tricky though is my personality.
My need for control and novelty, and my love of planning are core aspects of my personality. I get consumed with an interest and will be about it for a period of time and then one day I'm just done. I get bored and want to move on. I like brainstorming ideas, researching them, consuming information, getting lost in the details and thoroughly planning out the execution of an idea. That part is natural and fun, but once it's time to put the plan in motion, I find myself disinterested and checking out, and ready to start brainstorming and planning a new idea.
I took a DISC assessment several months ago which revealed that I'm an 'SC' - scoring 99/100 on the 'S' (stabilizing) spectrum and 88/100 on the 'C' (cautious) spectrum. This means I desire a high level of structure and order. I get preoccupied with details and bogged down with them during decision making. I have an intense need to be in control and know every detail, step, and outcome. I'm slow, cautious, systematic, deliberate, and a perfectionist.
None of these traits are bad, but it does make it feel like a battle against how I'm naturally wired in order to stick it out for the long haul. Sometimes I'm not sure if I'm up for the battle.
My tendency to start and stop, plan but not execute, has a deeper impact here. I have this feeling that once I start, I can't stop. If I start this business and actively begins to fight for the end of modern-day slavery, I feel like I can't just stop because this other interesting thing caught my attention. Once the t-shirt campaign I planned is kicked off, can I really just decide one day I'm done? There will be women relying on my orders to fund their employment. Who will be there to pick up where I left off if I stop? It's a hard and uncomfortable thing to sit with...
Since returning from India though, it's even harder to be okay with my inaction. I feel myself overcoming my fear and hesitation. How I'm moving past it is developing an awareness of my own selfishness and how I've made this about me - my fear of speaking, me not wanting to share my own story of sexual trauma, my discomfort with not having a blueprint and knowing how this all will unfold, my fear of committing to one single thing, and me not wanting to carry the weight of this responsibility.
Me. Me. Me.
But it's not about me. None of this is really about me. This blog, this vision, the trip to India, this burning desire to lead people to freedom.
And YOU, sitting behind that screen. It's Not About You Either. Whatever fear or reason you're using to not pursue that thing that's on your heart, it's not about you. So stop! Let's stop making it about you and about me.
Because it's so much bigger than us.
What I'm learning is that God is going to accomplish whatever He wants to, if not through me, then someone else. I'm the one who misses out by delaying and saying "No" though. He has invited me to be a part of His plan and His story. I rejected the invitation multiple times, but He's so loving and so filled with grace, that He hasn't rescinded His invite.
As I laid on a hard twin cot in India, cuddled up next to my husband, over a year after His first invitation, again, He asked me. As I sat in the back of the room at that Freeset event, again, He asked me:
"Will you accept the invitation?"
My answer: Yes.
What's your answer?
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