The first self help book I ever read was Feel the Fear and do it anyway by Susan Jeffers.
I was about to take redundancy from my desk job and I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. I knew I didn't want to sit in an office and I knew I didn't want to put on a suit and commute to London, and so, thanks to Susan Jeffers, I booked a flight and spent 18 months travelling alone. One morning, upon waking up in a hostel/brothel in Bangkok, I had a damascene moment. I decided I was going to end my travels and come back to the UK and re-train as a hairdresser.
I have never looked back, and I have had 'feel the fear and do it anyway' as a mantra running in the back of my mind ever since.
And so it was that this time last year, I stood on stage and performed in my first Improvisational Comedy show.
I had completed the 10 week beginners course run by The Maydays. It was terrifying and I wasn't sure why I was putting myself through it. But the buzz I got at the end of the show was nothing like I had ever experienced. I then went on to complete and perform the next two levels of Improvisation, and although the fear was lessening, it was still there.
After a break for the summer I signed up for a ten week Musical Improvisation course, run by the awesome duo that are Heather Urquhart and Joe Samuel. Not only was this Improv, but it was also singing, rhyming, dancing, AND holding a tune. What was I doing? I was feeling the fear and doing it anyway, that's what I was doing.
And then, on a drizzly Friday in December almost a year to date since my first performance, I was on stage again accompanied by some familiar faces and the all too familiar, debilitating, self limiting, doubting thoughts.
So I decided to get rid of the feelings and sensations that accompanied those thoughts and just have fun. My mantra kicked in, I wasn't going to worry about making a dick of myself or beat myself up for being out of tune or not rhyming, this is Improv, you CAN'T GET IT WRONG. Nothing bad can happen to you up there on the stage, you're making it up!
And so that is what I did, I felt the fear and sang it anyway.
It's Ok to not be perfect all the time, it's Ok to make mistakes, to feel sad and disconnected. It's Ok to bare your soul and be honest about how you feel. Most people will understand that and be there for you, and a few will use it against you. You may loose friends in the process, and that's hard. But it's more important to live your life authentically, and it's more than Ok to be BRAVE.
And so I invited my friends to see me perform, the ones that I know have my back and will support me and love me through life's up and downs, and knowing that they were there in the audience gave me the confidence to let loose and be me.
I sang - out of tune and I danced - badly. I allowed myself to have fun and ultimately show myself the love that I want to receive from others.
In life, the one thing that we all have is a choice. Sometimes it's the easy option to be small and fearful, it takes alot of energy and alot of courage to push yourself out of your comfort zone. So if you want to jack it all in and go travelling, jack it all in and go travelling. If you want to get out of a relationship, say goodbye to toxic friendships, tell someone you love them, do it, do the right thing for you. And if you want to get on stage with 10 consenting adults and make up a song about Donald Trumps wig, do it.
Whatever you choose to do, don't give a hoot about getting it 'right' just enjoy yourself and love yourself for being awesome. In my experience feeling the fear and doing it anyway is rarely a negative experience, it's usually life changing and ultimately, it is pretty much always great fun.