I am so profoundly grateful to audiences who tell me that my words resonate with them, inspire them, and give them comfort and strength to move forward in their lives when crisis has kept them stuck. Last night I had an amazing group of readers who came to hear me talk about the concepts in my book “Lemons into Limoncello” at the delightful Burgundy Books in Westbrook CT. When I receive feedback like this, I know I am on the right track with my life, and that I am truly doing what I am meant to do: which is to write, speak, and reassure others that they CAN get even their most devastating challenges, just as I have done.
Ironically enough, I will never forget my first college public speaking course, when everyone was required to give a formal presentation for the professor and the rest of the class. I could barely get the words out of my mouth because I was so nervous. Would people like me? Poke fun of me? Disagree with what I say? Tell me what I say is wrong? Would they dislike me or judge me? Would they ask me a question I couldn’t answer? Would they fall asleep or even walk out the door out of boredom?
With knees knocking, lips quivering, and palms sweating profusely, I delivered what must have been the worst presentation I — or anyone else —has ever given in the history of public speaking. That was the last time I would ever let fear strip me of my sense of self worth.
You see, we all gravitate towards the cocoon of personal safety–a kind of comfort zone that insulates us from the zingers of the outside world (insults, judgement, rejection, etc). That cocoon can actually become a self-imposed prison of blandness—a state of being “on hold”, where we don’t venture out, we don’t try new things, we don’t test out our dreams. It is a a paralyzing state, which none of us can afford to waste our precious time on. The cost is far too great.
My dream was always to become an educator, but not in the traditional sense, necessarily, although I did enjoy over 25 years of teaching psychology to hundreds of fantastic college students. I also, however, wanted to inspire those outside of academia, by showing them how to help themselves to live more fulfilling lives, and to believe in their own abilities to make life better. If I stayed in my comfort zone, however, there was no way I was going to get back out to do a public talk ever again in front of an audience, never mind become a self-help author and public speaker.
My dream was scary, and my self-imposed cocoon was simply avoidance of having to risk the fearful unknown. Then I chose to break out. Finding a way to express what we are passionate about–whether that is through painting, writing, story-telling, public speaking or baking the best biscotti on the planet—helps to enrich our life in an extraordinarily meaningful way.
Today, every time I finish a radio show, or give a public presentation, or write my next article for my column–I get a sense of harmony, inner piece, and insight.
I wish the same for you.
So my question to you, on this beautiful start to a new week is this: What are YOU doing to break out of your comfort zone, and step into the zone of fulfilling your dream?