Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Woman on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough

In less than two weeks, I'm going to Nashville for the Blissdom Conference

I can't wait to connect with friends, meet new people, and expand my comfort zone a little...  I'm speaking on a panel, and I've never done anything like that before.   More on that in a second.

I'm beyond excited that Brene Brown (pronounced Bren-nay - I don't know how to type the accent over the second "e") will be a keynote speaker at Blissdom.   I posted about her TED talk recently, and I've just finished her book The Gifts of Imperfection.    Her message is life changing, truly, and if you haven't seen any of her talks, read her books or her blog, I can't recommend them enough.    The idea that I'll get to hear her speak in person makes me go all fan-girl.  

The primary concept Brene examines in her book is living a wholehearted life no matter the circumstances.   I won't try to paraphrase what the book is about, because I won't do it justice, but a part that resonated with me was about leaning into discomfort.   Without even realizing it, much of the time, we are programmed to go around things:  by people-pleasing, numbing behaviors, avoidance or distraction.    In sobriety I'm slowly figuring out that going through things - however painful or uncomfortable - brings freedom and unexpected gifts on the other side.

I'm a little nervous about speaking on the panel; if you're going to Blissdom it's the Advocates and Activists: Harnessing Social Media for Social Good in the Face of Compassion Fatigue panel (in the Writing Track) on Thursday at 4pm (the agenda is here).    The who-do-you-think-you-are voices come out in full force.   I see my name up there with other bloggers - some of them household names (in the microcosm of the blogosphere) - and I start to feel unworthy.

I can talk about worthiness, self-love and acceptance until I'm blue in the face, but when I'm hit with a new situation like this I tend to default to old behaviors and thinking patterns.   The thing is, I'm starting to recognize those nay-saying voices for what they are:  a cheap, easy way to lower my expectations; a vain attempt to protect myself from disappointment or failure.

I'm trying to reprogram my brain to see experiences for what they are, and not put them into categories or good or bad.   If I speak from my heart and avoid getting wrapped up in what I think people want to hear, it will be what it is, no more and no less.   One of the biggest gifts of living an authentic life, drawing strength from the inside instead of engaging in people-pleasing, is that I can only be who I am.    I'm starting to realize that who I am is enough.  

The past year and a half have brought several new experiences my way, and with each one I'm learning more about letting go.   It began with the Oprah Winfrey Show, and then going to BlogHer in New York, Creative Alliance in Ojai, and now Blissdom in Nashville.    With each one I questioned my worthiness, my sense of belonging.  Especially before appearing on Oprah, I worked myself into a nervous wreck, and at the root of it all was the fear of rejection, of being judged, of not being worthy enough.    What I'm starting to understand is that there is no way I am not worthy of my own story.   It's when I don't own my own story, or I try to fudge it to fit other people's expectations, that I get into trouble.

When experiences are lived authentically, there is no way to fail.  

I'm also starting to embrace anxiousness, apprehension and nervous butterflies.   I'm starting to understand that these emotions - as uncomfortable as they are - mean that I'm on the verge of having a breakthrough, not a breakdown.

So if you're going to Blissdom, I'd love to meet you.   Stop by the panel, or look for me at one of the conference events.  

I'll be the one whispering to myself:  be authentic and you can't fail... be authentic and you can't fail. 


  1. Can I sneak into your bag? Seriously. I would love to hear you speak, and Brene! I can't believe she's going to be there - and you'll see her with your own two eyes in person, how cool! I'm going all fan girl over here for you... wow wow wow!!!
    (and you'll do great... you will rock the party ;))

  2. go girl! you'll totally rock. wish I could go! have fun and I can't wait to read all about it.

  3. If you stand around whispering that, I'm going to pinch you unexpectedly. Kidding, of course. If you whisper that to yourself you'll be talking to me too :)

    I can't wait!

    And I think you HAVE done something like ths before, round tables and TV and phone interviews, and... :) You're going to rock the panel party, I just know it.

  4. I have to admit it-- I am a little bit jealous! I would love to be attending this conference, and I would love to see you speak on your panel. I hope you have a wonderful time, and I have every confidence that you will be a hit!

  5. I just came across a book by that title (Women on the Edge of a Nervous Breakthrough.) That is too much of a coincidence to I have the book on order, El.

  6. No way! Just goes to show it's impossible to have an original thought anymore... :)

  7. I wish I was going to Blissdom. I'd love to meet you and tell you that everything you said in this post is absolutely true! :)

  8. This is going to sound lame-o...but it struck me that you said you questioned your worthiness for some of the things you attended this year...and I have to tell impacted my life bigtime at CA10 and so YOU are always worthy to me.

    Let your light shine. It is bright and fabulous.

  9. I loved that book. I really couldn't put it down and was amazed at her wisdom. Thanks so much for sharing - you always write something that makes me remember to be authentic.

  10. I wish I was going to Blissdom. I would love to listen to your panel. I think that the nervousness and anxiety will help you to speak honestly and truthfully.

  11. Looking forward to meeting you--apparently we are riding together from the airport! See you next week!

  12. Oh cool! Looking forward to meeting you, too! :)