This weekend I did something ridiculous. For a girl who used to be afraid of her own shadow I completely made myself uncomfortable. I used to cry if a person looked at me wrong. Now I just let it roll right off my back because I have figured out that “not fitting in” is really the definition of “standing out”. Sometimes we are so afraid to just shine, so we stifle who we are based on the fear of rejection. We look our worst critic in the mirror every morning wondering if one more coat of mascara and heavy-duty under eye concealer will make us look less tired. I asked myself this question for seven years in hiding as an undercover storyteller who used to function out of this place of “I am not good enough.” Here’s the deal, I could never back that up in scriptures. Every lie had a stronger, more powerful truth. I figured out that I had believed lies spoken over me, but I still loved the ones who hurled lies. I learned the fine art of forgiveness and even though I might not forget the heartaches I’ve faced, God has removed the sting and I feel completely set free…without anxiety meds and a therapist on speed-dial.
Being real is scary sometimes. This world is looking for messy women who are not perfect, just available ones who are needy for a God who loves them just because. Simply embracing who God fashioned you to be, without hesitation, is so scary that it makes us want to projectile vomit. I asked my husband to spend money we didn’t have on a plane ticket, hotel room, and a little conference called “She Speaks”. He said yes three times and didn’t even say Dave Ramsey once. I booked the trip, freaked out, and wondered if I could back out. But I didn’t. I worked. I cried. I prayed till I felt peace and a release. I stayed up late. I got an ulcer. I found myself grieving my precious Grandma who has Alzheimer’s and is fading so fast that I wake up crying most nights. I’m moody and scattered. And I’m not in the best frame of mind and yet I knew in my heart it was time. I had every reason to back out, but more reasons why I couldn’t give up on this dream.
I went to the doctor and said, “I have an ulcer and only one week to get better.” He ran a few tests, blood work, and mashed on tender places on my abdomen. And then he wrote a prescription to treat my ulcer paused for a minute and said, “Do you need something for the anxiety?”
(Insert awkward silence here.)
“No, sir. But thank you, I’m really okay. If my grandmother was okay and still knew my name…I would be okay too.”
He nodded, “I still want to see you in three weeks.”
Flash forward to me taking risks and being extremely uncomfortable and alone. I scheduled my appointments, researching the people I was meeting with instead of their big, dreamy publishing companies. I was so clueless and unafraid to own that. I wanted to meet with three people. A wise woman who scared me to death, a man who most likely would tell me that my work was trash, and someone a little more my age who would understand me instantly: three different, but very important perspectives. And I really wanted to hear every single word they said, receiving it gracefully because I’m classy like that. (And crazy.)
My first appointment was the one that scared me the most. After the other girl bolted out of the room trying her best not to cry, I was kicking myself for not taking the anxiety meds. But I already really liked this woman and wanted to meet her. I pulled myself together, walked in, and instantly thought she was stunning and scary…and then I verbally freaked out. Awesome. I had fifteen minutes to sell a hot, complicated mess. She read my mail and said things to me that I had waited seven, long years to hear. Seven years of wrestling with the sloppy perfectionist within me trying to craft a compelling story, not a perfect one…just me bleeding on paper trying to love on the broken places in others that I know from firsthand experience. I was a complete mess and ugly-cried which was not my plan. At all. Yet, I walked out of that room wrecked and encouraged. I loved her more because she told me the truth and gave my dream stronger wings. Afterwards, I cried for maybe an hour give or take, washed my face, and put on fresh makeup. My only goal was to be strong enough to take whatever they said and learn from it while moving forward.
Then I met with the man. I was a question mark from the very beginning. He hated my title and gave me some best-selling titles of books written by men. He was so honest with me, brutal perhaps. And I’m really okay with being misunderstood by a man. I’ve been married for fifteen years; thinking the opposite sex is from a different planet is normal. He said something like, “I wouldn’t care about you at all because of your title, but rethink it and send it to me.” What? Why would he really want it? He said something else about me being “an interesting woman.” I smiled and took his information as a gift and bolted down the stairs to meet with an amazing, young thing that I could have coffee and girl-talk with for hours. I didn’t pitch my ideas; I just had a conversation with a dreamer just like me and clicked with her instantly. I had unlimited time for her to tell me how all of this would work after I sent my finished manuscript. Her time was gold to me. She knew what she was looking for and I communicated with more confidence because of my encounter with a stunning lady who scared me to death. The man just reinforced what I already knew. If my target audience is women…I should probably work closely with a woman because I’ll never, ever think like a man.
Three different point-of-views from three extremely wise people in the industry that I want to be apart of. I have so much to take in, but I still feel the need to just pray, work, love, and freak out when I need to. I have no idea what is going to happen next, but I just refuse to quiet the storyteller within. Years ago I wrote a story. It captivated me then and it still captivates me now. This has-been insecure dancer, who never felt good enough, danced for the first time on paper and it just felt like home.
Much love as you let go of perfect and dance,
“In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matt 5:16 NLT)
P.S. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough. And if you want to grow, you better surround yourself with people who make you want to pee in your pants a little.