Inspirational Stories

On Fear, Criticism, and Being Brave

I was being blatantly ignored.

She knew it and I knew. And it pained both of us.

I had a moment of enlightenment with Maddie, our 11-year-old, while she was practicing volleyball. It was just the two of us in the gym at the YMCA. She was having a hard time bumping the ball to where it needed to be.

I kept instructing her to bend her knees and keep her weight on the balls of her feet so that she could react and move quickly to the ball. But she just wouldn’t do it. She continued to stand there stiff and rigid completely ignoring my advice.

I demonstrated the stance but she still wouldn’t budge.

What in the world?! I couldn’t imagine why she wasn’t at least trying what I was asking her to do.

And then it came to me… I knew exactly why she wouldn’t do it.

She felt silly and cared too much about what someone might think if they saw her. She thought she probably looked funny when she was in that stance and so she was too scared to do it. Or even try it.

I wanted to shake some sense into her and yell,

“It doesn’t matter what other people think!! IT. DOES. NOT. MATTER.”

But instead of shaking her or yelling I began talking… The words just started spilling out of me…

I told her how I could see in her eyes and feel what her heart knew; that she was so talented. I told her that she has so much potential. That she is so intelligent. And I knew that she knew it. I knew that she had high hopes and dreams for herself.

They were grand, wonderful, and exciting.

And I could also see her self-doubt, her self-criticism, and her total fear of caring about what others thought of her.

With fire and purpose, I started to explain that she will never be able to reach as high as her potential unless she STOPPED CARING WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THOUGHT ABOUT HER.

It was at that point that my voice started to crack and tears began to well up in my eyes. But surprisingly they weren’t tears for my daughter…

They were tears for myself.

As I was saying the words to Maddie I was really saying the words to myself.

Katie, “IT DOES NOT MATTER WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK ABOUT YOU. It really doesn’t. You will never be able to reach as high as your potential unless you stop caring about what other people think about you.”

The words stung. They hurt so much because I knew they were painfully true.

I have let far too many years and opportunities pass because I was paralyzed at the thought of what people would think. I don’t want to put myself out there in fear of criticism.

Just like Maddie, I have big hopes, dreams, and goals. And deep down I know I can do them. I know I have the ability to accomplish them. But for as long as I can remember, once I get to a certain point I hit the brakes and dim my light in fear of many things…

Fear that I might fail.
Fear that I might succeed.
Fear of what other people will think of me.
Fear that maybe I really don’t have talent.
Fear that people might think I’m a fraud.
Fear of embarrassment.
Fear that I might be rejected.

Now, before I fall down the rabbit hole too far, I must give myself some credit and point out that I HAVE been able to push past many fears  and accomplish many wonderful things…I’ve written several books, created and run my own business, moved to new places, and experienced a lot of new things, etc.

I don’t want to diminish what I’ve already accomplished. But I also know that I have more dreams to realize and more hopes to accomplish.

And I do not want to allow fear to get in the way.

Something stirred in my heart when I read the words from Elizabeth Gilbert in her book, Big Magic. She asked, “Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden in you?”

I found myself yelling, YES! (in my head. 🙂 )

I know I have the courage. I know it. But I’m going to have to face a few fears to do it.

I want to kick fear to the curb. I want to live boldly, the way I feel inside.

I want to be brave. So brave that it opens the door to allow others to be brave. To not let their own fears stop them from becoming the amazing people they were meant to become.

When Maddie and I returned home from the YMCA that day I said a prayer, “Heavenly Father, how do I let this go? How do I stop caring what others think about me? What should I do?”

Over the next several weeks the solution started trickling in. Bit by bit Heavenly Father has given me inspired glimpses of what I could do to move forward, to live with boldness, and realize my potential.

In my patriarchal blessing (which is a personal and special blessing given to me when I was a teenager) there’s a part that talks about how I will be able to develop my talents so that I can teach and encourage women and give them encouragement, hope, and faith.

What better way to teach others than to lead by example. So I feel inspired to start a blog where I can be courageous, share my budding talent of writing, and encourage others to live full out along with me.

The name of my blog is “Being Katie Brave”.

Being Katie Brave is choosing faith over fear.

Being Katie Brave is letting go of ego.

Being Katie Brave means sharing weaknesses and strengths to encourage others.

Being Katie Brave means having patience even when you can’t see how things are going to work out.

Being Katie Brave is taking time to fill your own cup even if other things continuously get in the way.

Being Katie Brave is standing firm in your divine self no matter what others may think or say.

My first act of bravery is hitting publish and sharing this new inspired idea. I don’t have a certain goal of how many times I will post or even what I will say.

I’m only committing myself to live bravely.

Will you join me on my brave new adventure?