Like so many of you, 2016 has been a whirlwind. I’ve felt pain, shame, heartache… and also unimaginable strength, joy, hope, and freedom. Fear has played a prominent role in this year’s script, but more than any year before, so has courage.
When I first started this year, my only resolution was to do something that scared me EVERY DAY in 2016. I had completely different expectations than what actually happened. I planned to do some epic things like skydive and maybe backpack to some remote spot. I hoped I’d finally feel comfortable performing in front of big crowds by getting on bigger and bigger stages.
Well, my plans to skydive fell through and I have yet to reschedule them. I spent most of this year performing more—and on bigger stages—hoping that for once what other singers promised me would come true: “The more you do it, the less scary it is.” I kept facing my fears, but I got sickly nervous every time.
Early on in the year, I kept a record of each day’s fear I conquered. But after about a month I realized my “fears” just weren’t that impressive. Much of what scared me were things so simple, not even I would enjoy reading about it at the end of the year. So I stopped keeping track, but I made sure to do something each day.
It became a habit to do things because I was afraid. My inner dialogue began to look something like this: I don’t want to do _____ because I’m scared. Great! That’s exactly what I need to do! At first it was about checking off my fear for the day, but it soon became about living. I started going straight towards the things that made me want to crawl out of my skin, knowing they were the very things I had to face in order to keep fear from ruling me.
I’ve had some very real “conqueror” moments this year—some that many of you have witnessed, some I can’t wait to share with you in the New Year, and some that only my closest friends and family get to celebrate with me. In 2016, I did amazing and horribly frightening things like:
- Having incredibly uncomfortable yet necessary conversations with friends
- Owning up to embarrassing mistakes and offering sincere apologies for my poor behavior
- Sending emails I feared would result in “no’s”
- Posting videos I knew weren’t perfect
- Reaching out to people I was afraid would reject me
- Choosing honesty and vulnerability with trusted people
- Taking on work I was afraid yet fully capable to do
- Performing on stages big and small throughout Orange County
At first, the voice of fear was just as loud as when I started. Sometimes I gave in to it. Most days I chose courage at least once. By the end of the year, I started noticing most of my fears didn’t happen. Even when my fears came true, it didn’t feel nearly as bad as playing it safe. Giving into fear only forfeits the chance to truly feel alive. The voice of fear just didn’t carry the same weight after a while–I knew the promises of safety were not only empty, but debilitating.
By far I gained so much more than I lost by taking chances. My friendships developed from good friends to bonded sisters. I got some “no’s” and a decent amount of rejection, but I also got some yeses that resulted in amazing opportunities. I learned as I went on some jobs, and my clients were happy—I even got paid!
The greatest takeaway was finally noticed in the last couple of weeks. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t nervous to perform! It wasn’t because I finally had performed enough. It was a total shift in my perspective.
Through choosing courage in my personal life, I gained the paradigm shift I needed to face “bigger” obstacles head on. All those sent emails and persevering through uncomfortable situations helped me learn I am far more capable than I typically give myself credit. I realized that if I can have an incredibly difficult conversation and deal with the aftermath of those emotions in a healthy way, I can easily show up the next day and play a few of my favorite songs. I also began to see myself as someone who has something really special to offer.
I never could’ve anticipated this kind of result, that I would feel more like myself rather than have a cool list of things I’ve accomplished. To loosen the grip between fear-based living and who I really am truly is the greatest gift of freedom.
Not every day went perfectly, but because I chose courage more times than not in 2016,
It is my plan to do the same in 2017—and for the rest of my life.
I can’t encourage you enough to kick fear’s butt and truly live! Send the dreaded emails, have the scary conversations, and try new things you’re afraid of!
May you have a wonderful and FREE 2017! Happy New Year!