In honor of International Women’s Day today I wanted to share something a bit deeper than my usual outfit posts. I want to talk about fear. I’m living with a lot of it lately, because writing a book was terrifying. It was also joyful, exciting, and an incredibly healing experience – it was and will continue to be more of a positive experience than it will ever be negative. But for the sake of this post today, let’s focus on the fear because I want to call it out and put it in its place.
You’ve probably heard someone say that writing a book is scary before. Other things in life can be too – like applying for school, accepting a new job, going out on a relationship limb, or having a baby. All of these things make you all sorts of vulnerable, and many people experience fears like the Impostor syndrome or fear of rejection when it comes to writing a book.
I have one very specific fear though. The overall topic of my book is how I’ve never felt completely comfortable with both fashion and faith in the same room (and through research, interviews, and personal stories I explore how we can find a balance between the two). So basically being asked to write a book about this topic was like “Hey I’m uncomfortable, so why not literally draw a bunch of attention to it?” Ugh.
When I really drill down to WHY that terrifies me though, I find that it’s not about justifying fashion to God. It’s not sharing my faith publicly or with people in general. What I’m scared of is writing a book in the “Christian” category, which in a way means I'm entering that world with my career. [Note: the content here on J's Everyday Fashion is not changing, this is just a new, separate venture for me personally and professionally.] I’m terrified of being rejected by that new-to-me world; of being labeled a heretic. Or what if they accept me with open arms, I’m put in the spotlight, and then I disappoint people with my humanness? Everything about it is scary.
But here’s what I realized:
1. The fear may be a lie. It’s possible that the entire thing is just in my head. Because that’s how fear works. It builds up a lie so deep, you’re sure that death is on the other side of the door, when that’s actually where you need to go. I’m open to believing that it's all completely unfounded. Let’s find out.
2. Delight in hardships. It’s not just a Bible verse (2 Corinthians 12:10), it’s real life. An iron is refined in the fire. I’d rather take a potentially scary situation head-on than stay in my comfort zone. Just think of all the lessons to be learned and character to be built if it does wind up being a challenging situation? I can't get those "benefits" if I stay put.
3. Embrace being an outsider. The rejection my blog has occasionally received from the fashion industry is a good thing because it means I'm staying true to and honoring my faith and personal beliefs. So why couldn’t the same be true in this scenario? I may never belong in either world completely, but what if that’s actually exactly where I need to be?
4. It’s not about me. The message of this book is so much greater than me and my ego, I can already sense that. Surely it contains my story and my voice, but I just don’t see any of it being about me, I feel very unattached to it in that way. That gives me a lot of strength, because when I feel fear, I’m tuned in that I’m making it about me in that moment, and I know to cut it out right away!
5. This is the definition of faith. In life, sometimes we are asked to do outrageous things (Abraham and Isaac, David and Goliath). Stepping into this new category feels like one of the most outrageous and terrifying things I could possibly do! But it also feels exactly like where I’m supposed to go. This is the definition of faith, and I’m committed to living my life walking in it.
Perhaps my fears sound pretty silly. (Sometimes people have fears that I don’t fully understand, either.) Or perhaps it makes no sense why I would be scared of something and doing it anyway. Maybe someday one of my fears will come to fruition and I'll share that I'm upset, and you'll wonder, "Well why did you do that to yourself in the first place?!" But there's a much bigger picture to consider, and ultimately the things fear tries to get me to worry about, are none of my business. So when I feel fear – for a brief moment or it may try to dominate my entire day – I will say to myself, “Choose faith. Choose to step past your ego. Choose to seek the kingdom first. Choose to be brave. And no matter what, don’t stop moving forward.”
[I also enjoy listening to this beautiful song during less-brave moments.]
Have you ever been afraid to take on a new challenge? How did you work through the fear?
ps. "J's Everyday Fashion and Faith: Personal Style with Purpose" (Waterfall Press) is coming fall 2017. You can sign up for email to receive updates.