Wednesday, November 28, 2007


My husband is fearless. He is not a daredevil, mind you. He doesn't go for really extreme sports--beyond scooping the poop of a 96-pound dog once a week or so. His sport love is kayaking. He learned rock climbing to get over his fear of heights.

But the man will talk to anyone, email anyone, phone anyone. He asks directions. He asks people which way to bathroom. He is not embarassed to not know where to go or how to do something. He learns a whole lot just by doing the asking thing. Just now he said, "I'd try to get in touch with Bill Gates if I needed something from him."

He reaches out to people with absolutely no fear of rejection or of feeling dumb.

Me? I grew up too embarassed by my size to go up for seconds in a buffet line. I didn't want people to laugh at the fat girl.

I nearly died the first time a professor read my writing aloud in English 102. I had an actual anxiety attack. I didn't want anyone looking at me while he read.

I used to lose sleep for days before a public speaking class or "real" event where I had to speak in front of a group.

Then a funny thing happened. I took on an alternate persona who was braver than I, who could stand up tall and talk to more than one person at a time. First, she did the eulogy at a dear friend's funeral. Then, she spoke to the congregation at church about how she came to find Unitarianism. Then she led an auction at a charity event. Finally, she became president of a women's networking group and led meetings for eighty people every month.

The alternate personality varied, but was usually Oprah or Beyonce. Not sure why I choose one-named African-American women as my alter egos--aside from the fact that they're both on top of the world and can do anything. Oprah and Beyonce are fearless. So, whenever I found a microphone in my hand, my little voice said, pretend you're Beyonce, and I could do it.

But call Beyonce? Um, I don't think so. She might find out I'm a dork and I've been pretending to be her for years. And then what would happen? I'd just die of embarassment, that's all.

The beauty in this story is that the older I become, the more fearless I become. I don't care as much what people think. I'm becoming more confident in my talents and knowledge. I convey that I care and that I'm sincere and of integrity, and have good information to impart. And what exactly is so scary about that?


Professor J said...

Hey, I like the idea of becoming more fearless as we age!

Claire B. said...

There has to be SOME advantage to it, eh?