It hurts. So what?

A couple of weeks ago, I was extremely afraid. I wanted to speak up, but it felt much easier to stay silent. Or rather, I needed to speak up but was afraid of the response. There was an 95 percent chance that things wouldn’t end well.

Okay, I exaggerate. I’m not saying that I would die or get physically injured or even be screamed at, but I likely wouldn’t get the response I desired. I’m talking about the likelihood of a very high rejection rate.

I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t say what I wanted to say. I knew I’d feel even worse if I stayed silent. But I was scared. The pain I’d feel if rejected felt very real.

So I vented to Jane about how I felt safer staying quiet because I didn’t want to bring almost certain pain into my life. Even though I knew what I needed to do, it sucked that I could predict the future pain from doing it. And it was then that she said to me one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard in my adult life.

She said “yeah, it’s going to probably  hurt. It’ll probably hurt very bad. But okay. So what?”

So what??

The revelation feels groundbreaking. Things may hurt, very badly even, but so what? So what?

Can you live with the pain of things hurting? Yes. And when you can live with that pain and be brave in the face of it, the world opens up.

Suddenly, suddenly everything is doable. Even the most immense impending hurt can’t stop you. It can bring you to your knees and it can make you cry. For awhile even.

But so what?

I ended up saying what I needed to say, and I was extremely relieved I did. And the hurt still came on strong. The rejection felt intense and stung with pain.

But so what? So what??

I’m still here. And I’m okay.

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Expert Travel Lessons Learned The Hard Way

In a recent post I wrote, Are You More Confident Now That You’re Older?, I touched on how a lot of times confidence comes from being okay with failing and getting rejected again and again.
Now that I’m 30, I’ve already accumulated piles and piles of messy, crazy mistakes I’ve made and lessons learned the hard way.

Before this blog, I used to have a travel blog called YouSomewhereElse (hence my wordpress handle LauraSomewhereElse). I don’t consider myself the absolute best expert on travel, per se, but I do travel more than 2/3 of the year for work, so I consider myself at least somewhat of an expert. And when you travel as much as I do, you rack up a whole lot of experience under your belt. Some of it is good, and some of it…not so much.

Right now I’m in the middle of a 5 city trip without hitting home between cities. I’m in city 4 out of 5. I’ve probably only spent about 10 days total at home in New York since the beginning of January. I’ve been traveling like this- at an ever increasing rate- for over 8 years, and have been on the road so much that I should be great at it, right? Well, sometimes even if you’re “great” at something, it just means that you do it so much that you’re bound to do a bunch of things wrong at least some of the time.

Just to prove that being a confident expert takes lots of failure, and to encourage you to not be afraid of the really bad experiences, here are just a few of the many mistakes I’ve made on the path to becoming a travel expert..

  1. I’ve gone to the wrong airport..twice. One time I completely missed the flight and they wouldn’t rebook it. I lost $550 buying a new last minute flight, and another $100 taking a cab from one airport to the other..only to miss that flight anyway.
  2. I’ve booked a flight on the right day,..but in the wrong month..and the $400 flight cost was non-refundable.
    3. I bought a cheap suitcase and had the entire handle come off on a hill in the middle of England.
    4. I bought a different cheap suitcase and had the handle come off in the middle of a staircase in Washington DC.
    5. I’ve exploded a bottle a seltzer all over my laptop and BROKE THE KEYS FOREVER in the middle of Philadelphia a month ago.
    6. I’ve been stuck in Charlotte airport for 3 days when the airport closed because of bad weather…and I had to sleep on a cardboard box because I was on the phone when they gave out cots.
    7. I’ve booked numerous bus tickets that ended up being at the wrong time..and they were nonrefundable.
    8. I let my phone fall off my lap while sleeping on a plane and it was stolen while I slept.
    9. I opened the back of a car where my suitcase was stored, only to find my suitcase gone! I thought it had been stolen and completely panicked, only to later realize that I was in the wrong car.
    10. I’ve accidentally tried to bring my permanent plastic Contigo water bottles filled with water through security…and have had them confiscated at least half a dozen times because I was in too much of a hurry to go back and dump them.

11. I recently dropped all my suitcases off at the wrong hotel. This was two days ago.

12. Today I went running in Fort Lauderdale, got completely lost, and had my phone’s GPS stop working on me. I had to continuously ask construction workers and random passerby directions for an extra half hour until my phone suddenly started working again. If it hadn’t finally worked, who knows when I would’ve made it back home.

So don’t worry about going out and failing. Failure probably means that you’re just putting yourself out there more…or at least I’d like to think so. Go ahead and make tons of crazy mistakes..and you’ll perhaps become a confident expert along the way 🙂

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Are You More Confident Now That You’re Older?

There was one time I was acting in a play and said to the director, “my character is so confident. How can I play a character who’s more confident than I’ve ever been?”

I can’t remember the director’s response, but it was something like “you’re confident. It’ll be fine.” I remember wondering whether I was fooling people into thinking I was more confident than I felt. I think I ended up repeating affirmations over and over to myself in order to get the character feeling right: “I’m confident. I’m beautiful. I’m frigging great.” Stuff like that. And I tried to imitate confident people I knew. It worked well enough at the time, I guess.

Is confidence a fake it till you make it thing? Does it help to take on a projected mindset of confidence?

I sort of hate the idea of ‘fake it till you make it.’ I like to think of myself as a pretty down to earth person, so I find it hard to attempt faking a version of myself. Whenever I try, it works for awhile, but sometimes I end up back where I started. Of course, now that I’m 30, I don’t always have to try and fake confidence. There are definite areas where I’m naturally confident from experience alone- usually in my job and friendships and certain subjects such as travel….areas where I’ve tried different things and failed and succeeded and failed again.

I recently read a brilliant article by one of my favorite writers, Mark Manson, called The Confidence Conundrum. In it, Mark says something I’ve always wondered about confidence- that the lack of it seems to just lead to a downward spiral of less confidence.

“On the surface, confidence appears to be an area where the rich get richer and the poor stay the fucking losers they are. After all, if you’ve never experienced much social acceptance, and you lack confidence around new people, then that lack of confidence will make people think you’re clingy and weird and not accept you. Same deal goes for relationships. No confidence in intimacy will lead to bad break ups and awkward phone calls … This is the confidence conundrum, where in order to be happy or loved or successful, first you need to be confident; but then to be confident, first you need to be happy or loved or successful.”

He comes to the conclusion that the answer doesn’t actually lie in faking it and saying “i’m fucking great. I’m fucking amazing at this,” but in “becoming comfortable with what you potentially lack.” In other words, confidence is about failing and failing again…and becoming comfortable with not achieving. In other words, confidence isn’t about what we achieve (which seems to bring about more of a temporary external confidence anyway), but about becoming comfortable with dreaded things like failure, rejection, and getting hurt.

Scary stuff! But imagine if instead of worrying about achieving all the time, and wanting to have a constant peaceful mindset, we instead became comfortable with discomfort. If we could get comfortable putting ourselves out there and failing, then we could become confident no matter what. We’d have nothing to prove to ourselves or others.

Perhaps it’s a numbers game. When you put yourself out there again and again and get rejected or fail and get hurt over and over, think ‘this is normal. And it’s fine. It’s actually great. Because this is part of life and it means that I’m truly putting myself out there and living.”

It’s scary, but if it’s actually the true key to building confidence, would you do it more?

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