A little over a month ago I walked in a fashion show. One week after that I began a teacher training at a local yoga studio in my neighborhood — all while beginning a couple part-time jobs totally irrelevant to the career I’d spent the majority of my young-adult life invested in. And although it’s tempting to overly-romanticize the “newness” of change and risk-taking; I’d be lying if I said that I personally have the desire to initiate that myself.
It’s not that I’m adverse to change — I actually enjoy change quite a bit. But I seem to somehow talk myself out of jumping into almost anything new, or unfamiliar.
This photo was taken as I was modeling at last month’s Moorea Seal x Cone + Steiner Fall Fashion Show. And though this photo makes it seem as if I have a natural/calm demeanor, I have to confess that I felt anything but natural taking it. Prior to the show, I had so much internal chatter that reminding me “I’m NOT a model, I’m too awkward to walk in a fashion show, and I don’t have the right body type or personality to be in front of a camera or audience. ”
I wasn’t super self-aware of this inner dialogue in the moment, but in retrospect I’ve come to realize how strong that voice was not only that evening, but throughout my life– for better, or for worse.
This inner dialogue has dictated many of the decisions I make (or don’t make); telling me what I’m capable of or incapable of, should or shouldn’t do, and who I can or cannot be. Some of it’s good and healthy — intuition is there to keep us from doing anything crazy stupid, hurting ourselves or those around us. But if I’m real, a lot of my inner dialogue has kept me comfortable in times of life where I actually needed to take risks.
Once I started paying more attention to my internal dialogue I realized that most of the messages be communicated weren’t exactly positive. In fact more often than not this voice discouraged me from believing in myself, loving myself, and believing that I was worthy of love from others.
It told me that even though I loved practicing yoga and wanted to learn more about it — I would never be flexible enough, culturally competent enough, or experienced enough to teach.
It told me that even though I was totally burnt out and jaded in ministry — thinking about doing anything else was out of the question…God would never ask me to step away from that…right?.
It said that even though I love supporting local businesses and fashion — it wasn’t my place to walk in a fashion show as a 5’3″, average weight, flat-chested woman of color.
And it definitely told me that even though I love writing, shouldn’t start a blog because I’m not skilled enough, and no will read it.
Part of the season of life I’m in has been for the purpose of becoming aware of that inner-dialogue and self-talk — to simply acknowledge it exists. But fueling this spirit of trying new things, I’ve been encouraged to question and put that inner-voice in its proper place. A piece of this has manifested in working to change the internal dialogue from something defensive and insecure, to that which brings a sense of humble courage and boldness. But part of that has also been taking action and trying things I know I might completely fail at.
Walking in this fashion show was one of the first “new things” I let myself try in years. When I initially got the invitation, something deep within me wanted to say “yes” despite all of the internal dialogue that tried scaring me into a “no.” There was something deep within that countered the fearful dialogue saying, “but why not try? It’ll be a fun experience with a business you really admire – even if you’re terrible, you’ve got nothing to lose.” So I did it. And like I said before, I was terrified with every step I took down that runway. I felt ridiculous striking poses at each section — imposter-syndrome kicking in full-force.
But you know what? I loved it, and I had so much fun. I realized that my lack of experience didn’t disqualify me from participating – it instead humbled me to ask questions, do my research, and just understand that I had a LOT to learn…and that was okay. I also realized despite the non-model labels I’d given myself, taking the risk to simply walk in the show immediately trumped all of the “I’m not a model because ____” statements.
I was, because I did – even if not in a modeling-as-a-fulltime-profession sense.
The inner dialogue began to lose its power when I took the chance to try out something new anyway. And even though I was nowhere near perfect, I gained so much more than I could’ve imagined from the experience.
And so, as a commitment to continuously putting that inner voice in its place — I’m where I am today. I’m willing to get in front of a camera or an audience. I’m investing in weekly yoga teacher training classes. I’m trying out new, creatively-oriented jobs. And I’m starting this blog.
Do I still have inner-dialogue telling me to do otherwise? OF COURSE. Friends, you have NO idea how many months I’ve been putting off simply writing this first blog post. My personal insecurity in writing, aversion toward vulnerability, and fear of failure has taken the front seat for quite some time now. But as with the other things I’ve known deep down that I’ve wanted and needed to pursue – something’s telling me I should do it anyway. So in that spirit, I look forward to seeing what writing will teach me, and what opportunities sharing it with others will create – and I hope you’ll join me as I rewrite this part of my life narrative next.