The pile of shit in your garage (and in my case, your basement as well).
The place you’re in.
It’s all bullshit. Every ounce. And here’s why: you’re just flat-out afraid to deal with it.
Sidebar: Is the image in this post not the creepiest EVER?!
In the case of my basement and garage, I just fucking hate spiders and I know spiders live there and the longer I can avoid the spiders, the better my life will be. The delays sure as hell won’t get what I own packed up for my impending move any sooner, but I’m willing to let the spiders have their raves in these respective spaces for a bit longer given that odder and odder iterations of arachnids are making themselves known each time I make a mad dash for the car. They are mutating to spite me, I assume. But I digress.
The spiders are bullshit, too. They’re just excuses. Excuses my fears put in place in order to keep me from getting to where I want to be from This Place. Where I am.
When’s the last time you sat down and asked yourself, “Self — what scares you?”
And when’s the last time, perhaps if you have asked the question, that you gave yourself an honest answer?
Today, I’m kicking off the Bitch Slapping by answering that question honestly — right here. Because fear is a funny thing. It’s even funnier when you realize that your fears aren’t all that unique. In advance of my answers, however, I will offer the following:
I don’t care what you think of my fears. They’re mine. Judge at-will. I’m a lactose intolerant 39-year-old woman who loves grilled cheese sandwiches and banana milkshakes. Sometimes I have good ideas — others, I have two ex-husbands. My tits are fake, my fingernails are real, and on random Sunday mornings, I crank up a Michael Bublé CD and dance around my house like an epileptic on meth. It’s also possible that this is done in a pair of Patagonia boy shorts and a classy white wifebeater. So, yeah — you can have your judgement. But maybe you’ll find something that follows to strike a chord in that place that rests right beneath your heart. A surgeon will never find it, but it’s the place we keep everything hidden from everyone else. Our hopes, dreams…and fears.
What Scares Me
- I’ll never be able to do as much as I’d like to help my parents retire.
- I will never have a family, as at age 39, I know my fertility is declining and I’m not looking for a sperm donor. I’m looking for a partner, a father, a lover, and a friend. And it’s beyond depressing to know that I’ve become one of the statistics in a book I just co-wrote on fertility challenges.
- I’ll move to Boulder and hate it.
- I’ll never say what needs to be said to the people I love most and come to regret it.
- I’ll let down the people I admire and respect.
- That I’ve built my life in such a way that I’ll never travel like I want to. I’ll never stand underneath the Eiffel Tower, ride my bike through Ireland or Laos, or stand on top of a mountain in Nepal and feel different winds blow through my hair.
- That someone to whom I say, “I love you” will say nothing in return.
- My book will bomb and never find the audience that loves it.
- That this time next year, I will still say that I am single and not madly and most inconveniently in love.
- I won’t find The Next Thing — where my business should go next, the future risk and leap that will catapult me into that place where everything simultaneously sucks and is brilliant. The place where you know something cool is happening and you’re completely exhausted but it’s the one time in your life where you’d pose for Playboy stark naked next to a giant spider because you’re fucking invincible.
- Those blow-up wiggly things your see outside of gas stations waving around.
- My retirement savings will never recover from the life explosion that was my 3.5 years in Las Vegas — that I’ll never look at my bank account and think “that’s enough.”
- I’ll never look at my body in the mirror and think, “You look great” — that I’ll always be 5 pounds away from happiness.
- I will fall in love again and lose him.
- Wet paper (really).
- That I will misjudge another jackass and have a drunk guy show up at my door with a gun. Again.
- That the day will come where I speak in front of an audience and they will not laugh, nod, smile. They’ll just sit.
- The people I’ve loved the most and who have been the only reason I’ve been able to do anything and everything I love won’t look back when I’m gone on to more ethereal places and think, “Damn – that was a life well-lived.”
Sixteen things. Huh. Who knew the list was so short? Fuck me for using a numbered list instead of a bulleted one, I suppose. But today, those are the things that scare me. Shitless, quite frankly. And now, I can ask the real question(s):
What does all of this shit I’m scared of keep me from doing and how many excuses do I make to avoid these things I seem to fear the most?
We aren’t honest with ourselves nearly often enough. We should make lists like this daily so that fears never have the chance to settle in and ruin out potential for 32 flavors of ass-kicking awesome (because 31 flavors is sooooo 1988).
We should scare the living shit out of ourselves daily — willingly and at dawn’s first light, noon’s high sun, and throughout night’s deepest darkness. Because if we do one thing each day, it should be something that matters. Something that tells all of the gnomes under our beds that steal single socks and hide our car keys that they’re our bitches and not the other way around.
Because all of these things that scare us — and scare me — are the things that will motivate me to live a better life, run a better business, say what needs saying, and close this laptop at the end of every day and think, “Today? Yeah. I owned that. Owned it like peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat.”
It’s time to cock that Bitch Slapping hand back as far as it will go and make your list. Be honest with yourself and put fingers to keys or pen to paper and enumerate all the nasty little soul-sucking shit that scares you. Clear out that space right below your heart — the one that holds your hopes, dreams…and fears. Because getting the fear out of there leaves an ass ton more room for the things that make our lives lovely and filled with fewer excuses and more fuck yeahs.
Let the slapping begin.
Thank you. Thank you for coming out of NOWHERE?!?! and into my life. I don't know how i found you a few days ago, i can't remember because i've been crawling throught pages and blogs and everything i can get my hands on in the middle of the night after working a 9-5 (7-6 actually) job full time every day in order to find the answers to all my fears and questions about not knowing where to begin, what to do, how to do it: as i'm busy with a project to try and start my own business and it scares the living daylights out of me. No sleep, 7 month old baby that cries all the time and doesn't sleep much at night either. Overworked, overstressed and trying my best to stay positive and not throw in the towel. So thank you, because things like this and people like you give me the courage to face another day and keep up the good fight. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, I hope your new book is a MASSIVE success! My copy is on order... I hope all your future efforts in whatever you do is a success too, as honestly, people like you deserve nothing less than happiness and success!
I've been following you, albeit quietly, for a while now and love the originality and energy in your writing. Your list reminded me of my scarey list that I had 11years ago. It's much shorter now. Life does begin at 40 if you let it. So, I haven't acheived everything I've ever wanted and still have some of the fears you do. Facing my demons, I met a new friend at my 40th party (which I didn't want) and married him 7 years later. He's no oil painting, but he makes me laugh and the best bit is my parents and son love him equally. Go out and grab life by the throat and squeeze until it plays your game. You've probably got more people behind you than you realise.
I can't help with most of these (although I'm with you on the spiders thing.) But when you get to Boulder let me know, and I'll show you around. :)
Forget about the Eiffel tower, it's ugly! If you ever plan on visiting Paris, email me, I'll tell you about the nice places. Thanks for the unusual slap, some of those really sting. OUCH!
wet paper scares the shit out of me. i, frankly, cannot believe there's someone else out there with that same fear ha!
Wow. I've been thinking about this post all day. A blog post hasn't hit me this hard in I don't know how long. It's one thing to face your fears (hard enough!), but to publish them exposes our cowardly tendency to hide them from others and pretend we have everything under control. For someone as intensely private as I am, I'd have to say my greatest fear is most likely exposure. Thank you for taking a swing at that today. #respect
Nice list. It reminds me of Paul Gilmartin's podcast "Mental Illness Happy Hour." He has a fear-off with his guests. You'd do well.
Yes. I'm afraid of leaving my job (which I absolutely love) to become a stay at home mom to the cutest little 9-month old ever, and that when it's time to go back to work after she's in school, I won't be able to find my way back to another "dream job." So I keep taking her to daycare every day...
Re: # 14 - if 5 measly little pounds is what separates you from the happy zone, your mirrors need a little adjusting. : ) Great list.
Just had a heart bypass in January, and I'm wallowing in the depression that everyone says is a natural part of the recovery. I hate natural. So I'm making lists like this as well. Bucket lists, reasons to live, reasons to end it all, things I still need to do, things I've accomplished... At 57 I'm probably more like your mom than you, so I won't be offering much advice. But my list of worries looks like this: 1. I'll probably be working until I die. 2. My wife will die before me, and then I'll be alone. 3. People won't want to work with me because I'm old. 4. My brain is failing -- I'm forgetting things -- and it will get worse. 5. I thought I'd know MORE as I got older. I seem to know LESS. 6. I don't want to hang around people my own age -- they're boring. 7. People younger than me think I'm boring. 8. There aren't any heroes, anymore. 9. There might not actually be a God, or an afterlife, or heaven. 10. I might be right to be worried.
It's a weird kind of funny, but being on the downhill slope to 50, I thought things would be a LOT less scary. Your list and my list are two sides of the same coin. I had a kid. Now I'm scared shitless that I'm not a good enough mom (he's in college -- I need to get over it). I'm in a relationship with someone I often consider spending the rest of my life with...and I'm scared I'm going to leave *him* someday (fear of commitment? party of 1?). I kind of like those wavy gas station thingies -- what scares me more is how much gas their generators burn blowing away all day. I mean, c'mon! Anyway...could go on and on, but I think you see where I'm going with this. The fear will always be there. In some form or another, it finds a way to sneak into our hearts and make us feel awful about what we're not accomplishing. I recently dreamed up a big, hairy ass project that -- if it succeeds would SO freakin awesome, I could die happy. But mostly, I'm just afraid I'm going to bomb with it. WTF? I'm committed to seeing it through, but damn if it wouldn't be nice to feel invincible for about 20 freakin minutes!
Believe it or not, I only have one thing on my list. *takes deep breath* What scares me is: I'll find 'my thing'. Be change-the-world fantastic at it. Be happier than I could've ever imagined. And... those I love the most will knock me down, kick sand in my face, and tell me I suck in that who-do-you-think-you-are way that leaves a gaping hole where my heart and soul used to be as they're walking away from me.
It's painful in an "insecure cliched girl" kind of way but always somewhere in my top 5 (next to a slow death at the 8 tiny hands of the effing spiders) is the gaping fear of being forever misunderstood. You know, like never coming face to face with the one human who gets me. Also I thought for sure that aging alone would make me a grown-up and it buries the needle on the suck-o-meter that I may in fact be the first totally immature senior citizen on the bus tour someday. And if that's not enough irony, I am scared of the aging part too. I great big puffy pink heart this slap cuz you reminded me that I am not as far from being "gotten" as I think.
I'm turning 51 next week and still have so many of these fears (but spiders no longer...if I see one it's getting squished; with my hand)...*sigh* time to write them down; post them where I can see them and get to work. Thank you.
I have been sitting here, staring at my computer monitor. My Outlook calendar shows the next three things on my schedule, and they're all things that scare the living crap out of me. One is something that I've dared myself to do, the other two are for work. Sometimes, sitting around thinking about the stuff I'm afraid of makes it that much worse. I need to get out of my head, pull up my big girl panties and GET THIS SHIT DONE! Great post...thank you for the slap. I needed it!
Did you ever read My Year with Eleanor? It's about a woman who does something that scares her every day for a year. Definitely an inspiring read. This was a great post. I'm getting ready to do the most terrifying thing I've ever done in my life, and I'm scared to death - but I know it is going to be an incredible opportunity for me. Oh, and eff spiders.
Your blogs always have a way of resonating with me but this one seems to have slapped its way to the top. Thanks, I needed that!
Hahaha! I'm a new fan! Nice to meet you:) And don't move to Boulder... I think we need your humor hear in Denver. Plus, that commute would suck. LOL!
This one made me cry. I don't like crying first thing in the morning! But here I sit crying as I consider what I"ll put on my list. Thanks for the slap...I really needed one today.
Thank you so much for sharing this. I appreciate your bravery, and have many of these items on my list, too.
What I really love about social media is that it allows me access to brilliant, beautiful, funny people such as you, Erika. I hope that I can return the favor some day. As for what scares me... well, I am a guy, so naturally, nothing "scares" me. <;-p I have lived through a few kinds of hell (as have you, apparently), and while things have sometimes been unpleasant, they don't scare me as much as annoy me. That said, there are several boulders in my road that I have had difficulty in navigating my way around, or through. And that kind of irks me, and makes me think less of myself. Sometimes I think my get-up-and-go has got-up-and-left...
...yes, so many of us base our worth on the ups and downs of our lives. Which is of course totally fucking stupid...if we look beneath our bullshit self-sabotage-talk, we will see that we are always and consistently awesome. It's when we don't do our "work" is when we slam ourselves and forget who we really are.
Raw honesty, the only real one that counts. You are right we should scare the living daylights out of ourselves daily, not by jumping out of a plane or scaling mountain. Those are the easy ones. Reminding ourselves of all the shit we believe in and facing it, now that's scary! Thanks for the slap, now get your bike and come on down to France :)
http://kosmiceggtarot.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/gift-of-textiles/ Here is my slap, my friend, "...Gifts and fear don’t go together well, and so..."
Sometimes you inspire me to do more. Sometimes you inspire me to do less (and thank you for it). And sometimes you make me sit back in my chair and think "Hot Damn, am I up for the challenge?" Fantastic post - thank you for having the courage to bare all for us.