While I'm sitting here writing my first blog post in English, the nagging voice in my head is screaming real loud for me to stop trying. She is telling me that I'll never be good enough, and that my business and blog in English would just fail, anyways. So the best thing I can do now is stop typing and just quite.
Don't try, because you will never succeed. Ever heard this voice?
Let me tell you that you are not alone. I know this voice very well. She always comes up when I want to take a step out of my comfort zone. She is feeding herself on my insecurity around starting something new. She knows I am not confident writing in English and that's why she is so loud!
I used to be afraid of her and the damage that she could cause. She paralyzed me to the point that I would give up and back away from realizing my dreams. For a long time, she was successful at that, until I had enough and started to explore her background. I wanted to know who she was, where she came from and why she had so much power over me. I wanted to know what ever I could about her so I could take my power back and start living my vision.
I discovered that her name was Kim -- short for Kimberly -- and she was my inner mean girl. Her mission was to wait for me to mess up so she could put me in the corner and call up all her friends so they can laugh at me together. Making me feel small, not capable and plain stupid! She just had to do this a few times for me to get so afraid, that I didn't even want to try anymore.
I discovered that I created Kim when I was 8 years old and the only black girl in class, trying to blend in as much as I could so that I would be accepted. I was the good girl, the girl that never talked out loud, always asked for permission and wanted to help everyone, but never asked for help herself. I remember one day being called to the front of the class by the teacher to answer a question. I remember standing there, not knowing the answer, trying real hard to remember if we had to memorize this lesson, but I couldn't. I felt 34 eyes burning on me. Some kids were giggling because they knew that I didn't know the answer. For a few minutes, the only words out of my mouth where umm... umm as I desperately tried to come up with an answer and wished that I could magically disappear. The teacher was becoming impatient and told me that I had a few more seconds and that she wanted an answer today! So I closed my eyes and said the first thing that came up in my mind. For a second, I felt relieved that I said something, and it didn't even sound that impossible to me.
But my answer was wrong and the feeling of relief didn't last long. It wasn't even close, and the whole class started laughing. I felt small and alone. With eyes filled with tears, I went back to my seat. I tried real hard to make eye contact with the teacher, begging her with my eyes for help, but she didn't look at me. Not even once!
The one person who turned around to comfort me was Kimberly. I was hoping she would say that it was OK that is didn't know the answer, that I still was part of the group and that they didn't mean to laugh at me. But instead, she started to giggle and said: That was the most stupid answer I ever heard and with that, she went back to work.
Right then and there, I decided to never make a mistake again! Making mistakes was equal to being very stupid, so better not to do something and stay in my comfort zone than do something and make mistakes, because Kim would be their waiting for me and nobody would come to my rescue.
This belief kept me stuck for a long time. It's not that I didn't try anything new. I tried! But every time I made a mistake, I would stop and not try again. After doing the work, I was happy to discover all this about Kim and decided there was no way that she was keeping me from living my dreams.
A few years ago, I started my own business, and knowing who Kim really is, how she sounds, what words she uses gave me the power to shut her up and take the steps to bring my vision to life.
Now, when I hear her voice, I thank her. I thank her for watching out for me and Iet her know that the little girl she used to know grew up to be a strong woman. The woman that makes her fair share of mistakes and is fine with that, because she learns a lesson every time (even from the mistakes she makes more than once :)). She is smart and she is capable. The word "stupid" has no place in her (inner) vocabulary. And to show Kim that I mean it, I take action! Even if it's a small step.
You are reading this blog, right? :)
Now I would love to hear from you! What is your inner mean girl telling you ?
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