It’s just about to tick over to 2018 and if you are reading this, you probably think New Year’s Resolutions are all fun and games for me. I just pick some magical fairy tale dream and poof a year later I have it. It’s probably really fucking irritating to watch. From my side of the street, it doesn’t feel nearly as glamorous… or irritating. It just feels scary as hell.
What do I do now? Set yet another goal? A bigger one? Or scale back and under shoot? Do I play small and safe? Or am I somehow OBLIGATED to keep stepping up? The bigger they are, the harder they fall though, right? Should I just opt out now? Quit while I’m ahead?
Maybe you look at some of my photos on Facebook and think I’ve got it all figured out, I’ve arrived. Or maybe you think I’m arrogant as fuck, or that I’ve sold out. Maybe you think this was all easy for me because I’m different somehow. Or that I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth. Or that I always know what to do and what to say.
I know people have all SORTS of thoughts about me – good, bad, and ugly – and frankly, it’s fucking terrifying having so many people on the planet having opinions about me. I bet ten or twenty THOUSAND whole, actual, humans have a well-formed opinion about me. Probably a third of those are negative, a third are positive, and another third are on the fence or conflicted in some way.
Even in all those opinions, I bet there are very few who or even suspect the truth of how terrifying success like I have had this year is.
And like, I can’t complain, right? I know the rules…. Ain’t no one wanna hear about my #castleproblems. Memo received. But, I will tell you this: If you are hoping that reaching some goal will change how you feel, here’s the news flash, it doesn’t. What changes how you feel is learning to manage your mind. And big success – like big tragedy – only creates the need to manage your mind more closely.
I get stopped in airports now pretty regularly with people I don’t know asking me for a selfie (no autograph requests yet… or paparazzi, just FYI) and sometimes, in my own little bubble, I feel the pressure of fame. I have a totally different perspective now about Charles Barkley, the basketball player in the 90s, saying “I’m not paid to be a role model.” Or Dave Chappelle walking away from his acclaimed sketch comedy series Chappelle’s Show at the height of its popularity.
But the truth is 20,000 people is actually NOT that many. Actual celebrities like Charles and Dave have more like 20 million people or 2 billion people with opinions about them. What feels like the weight of the world on me, is just a feather for Beyoncé or Lady Gaga or now, Meghan Markle, whose life will never NOT be under a microscope again.
This shit is scary.
It makes me (or at least part of me) want to go back to cakes and cookies and corporate cubicles. I remember why I played small for so long and why so many amazing, brilliant, sparkly people continue to diminish what’s possible for them.
In her seminal book A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles,” Marianne Williamson said: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
But here’s the booby prize: Liberation from fear is not a moment in time, it’s an ongoing spiritual practice.
There is no day coming when you won’t feel fear. The question is, who will you be in the face of that fear.
As your light shines brighter and brighter, so too will the critics get louder. What are you going to make those voices mean? How much power will you give them? How brave will you be in the face of opposition?
What will I do with my fear as I step into the New Year?
I will sit with it. I will feel it. I will take my fear out for a walk and possibly even offer to share a twirl or a jig with my old friend.
“I see you fear. Pull up a chair and let’s have some chai.”
I can feel fear and survive. I’m doing it right now… wondering if you will hate me for sharing the truth about success being a struggle. More reasons to judge me. I get it.
And so here is my New Year’s Resolution… And my word of the year…. UGLY.
My resolution is to share more of my ugly with you. To allow myself to see more of my ugly myself. To accept and embrace that which is ugly. In that spirit, I’m going to let you in on the big, ugly secret. I do NOT have this shit figured out, and that’s okay.