As you may have noticed after reading last week’s blog on the impact of self-belief on my life, I’ve been feeling reflective recently. Maybe lockdown is encouraging more navel-gazing than usual, who knows, but it’s been interesting.
For this week’s blog I wanted to talk about the fact that growth can be painful. It’s amazing of course, to develop, learn and grow as a person, but it can be uncomfortable. It reminded me of a newsletter I sent out back in October 2018 when I did my first podcast interviews, my first speaking gig and had launched my coaching services the month before. Here’s an extract from the newsletter:
I knew October was going to be a month of stretching for me. When I say stretching, I mean doing things I’ve not done before, promoting myself, having my face/voice out there. Alongside the podcast interviews this month, I spoke at an event about work-life balance.
This was an incredible opportunity and a small event, meaning a) In theory it wasn’t going to be too scary and b) I would get to chat to the guests after. Leading up to it though, oh wow. So much anxiety. The day before, I was practising the talk and felt on the verge of having a panic attack for the first time, because I simply wasn’t breathing properly while speaking.
On the train journey up I felt sick to my stomach. At the event, I listened to the other speakers making it look easy and wondered what the hell I was doing there. But when I got up in front of people, the fear disappeared. I became some sort of speaking Jedi. I knew what I was talking about, and everyone was smiling, eager to hear what I had to say.
Afterwards I felt that glow. The glow you get when you’ve pushed yourself out of your comfort zone and know you’ve accomplished something amazing.
I had some time off after the event and was shattered. And the thing is, alongside this comfort zone pushing there have been other things going on. And this is where those tears of frustration and overwhelm I mentioned earlier come in.
I’ve been pondering my writing career, wriggling uncomfortably as I see exactly where I want it to go, but find myself coming up against practical constrictions (like… affording rent).
I’ve been marketing my coaching business, wondering when the growth I’ve been feeling internally will be represented here (turns out September, saturated with launches and courses, probably wasn’t the best time to launch).
Growth is uncomfortable. Like wearing a new pair of shoes for the first time. They rub and even cause painful blisters – but you know if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other, they will eventually wear in and become the most comfortable shoes you own.
I’ve been in my cosy slippers for too long now and I guess I’m wearing in new shoes right now. They’re hurting like a bitch, but now is not the time to give up and throw them to the bottom of the closet. Now is the time to keep going, because damn – they look fabulous.
Reading this back, it makes me both realise how far I’ve come, but also how the growing pains never really stop… there’s always more growth to be had.
Since writing this I’ve been a guest on more podcasts, I launched my own podcast, I’ve spoken on a panel at a huge wellness festival and I’ve been interviewed live on BBC radio AND television. And yes, the more I do things like this, the more comfortable and confident I become, but I think the most important lesson I’ve learnt is that… it’s OK to be uncomfortable.
I don’t think the metaphorical shoes I’m wearing will wear in and become “the most comfortable shoes I own” like I hoped when writing the newsletter, because there’s always something that’s going to push you to grow again. Every time we do something new, it’s going to feel hard.
In the past I’ve spent a lot of time trying to eliminate hard things from my life, like anxiety. But the second I surrendered to the fact that my anxiety will flare up sometimes, that things will be uncomfortable and it will be scary – a weight was lifted.
I’m not on a mission to never feel nerves before doing something scary. I know I’ll always feel nervous, the nerves mean I care. Instead I keep proving to myself that I can do scary things and survive. Doing something despite the fear is truly how we grow.
And this is why I’m so passionate about the need for support. Trying to navigate growth alone is… hard. From texting friends before doing something scary to learning from experts, I’ve found support every step of the way.
This is what I want to offer now with my coaching. Growth is always going to pinch like new shoes, but my hope is that I can link arms with you and help you stay upright. Take a look at my coaching page to learn more about my packages, I’m currently taking on one-to-one clients and would love to support you.
Have you been reflecting more during lockdown? Let me know in the comments. I find reflection and looking back helpful, so it’s felt nice to have the space to do this – despite the awful circumstances.
I’ll be back next week with this month’s short story. Until then I hope you all have a lovely week.
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