by Alison Bell
It’s 2am and one must wonder why I am awake. I’m exhausted, yet somehow can’t sleep. My body is aching and I can’t lie still. My mind is fried, but won’t stop firing a hundred miles an hour. I can’t quite put words to the sensation I feel. It’s not fear, not anxiety, not panic, but it is remarkably uncomfortable. I am lying next to the love of my life, in an apartment next to dear friends, yet I feel so alone and scared. What is this bizarre sensation that has washed over me as I was just about to drift to sleep? It’s 2am. I want to sleep. I am desperate to sleep. I cry with the fatigue but my body and my mind refuse to let go.
Perhaps many things have led to this insomnia. It’s been a big week, the hard part is over, yet here I lie, more awake than ever. I read. I meditate. I listen to music. I listen to podcasts. I write in a journal. I hear comforting sounds of rain on the roof. I reconnect with a religion I left decades ago and beg a foreign God for sleep to envelop me. But no. The ability to sleep remains out of my reach. The awareness that I need to be up and functioning in under 3 hours seems to make sleep that little harder to attain. I panic. I get frustrated. I cry silent tears.
It’s been a good day. It’s been a fun day. It’s been a productive day. There has been laughter, there has been much accomplished both in business and personal growth. Yet here I lie, alone in the darkness, feeling far from elated. I’m not depressed yet I am detached and deflated. I’m not alone as I have myself. But it’s dark, it’s scary and I'm vulnerable. And I realise I’m just scared. Everybody is. I’m scared of what I am and what I can be. What I thought I would be and what I wish I was. What I dare to dream to be and how dare I dream it in the first place. What makes me think I can see my future? But who else envisioned this future but me? So if I created it in my head, then it must be possible? Enter fear, panic, denial and an intense desire to retreat and hide. How can I achieve these dreams if I cannot even speak them aloud, or share them with a single soul? Fear. Complete and utter paralysing fear.
I’m sick of being afraid. Hiding out, pretending, watching others rise and then resenting them thinking “but I could do that”… it’s slowly killing me. Eating away at my spirit, my soul, my potential, my love. Slowly devouring me like a parasite. Sucking up the self worth like a leech. And damn it, I worked hard for that self worth. I want to keep it. I want to be brave. But it’s scary. It’s a strong lean into discomfort. It’s more than a lean. It is a plunge into the deepest pool of self doubt imaginable. It’s an open invitation for a serious butt kicking. But it’s also an opening for the greatest adrenalin and euphoria imaginable.
Why do I need to do the things that scare me? To grow. Why do I need to go past the comfort zone? To see how strong I am. If I think of myself at age 20, and where I dreamt I would be at 40.. am I there? Absolutely not! Yet I realise I am comfortable where I am right now. But it’s not where I dreamt I would be. Sure, directions for my future changed, interests changed, relationships changed. Thankfully I don’t wear blue eye liner and way too much hairspray anymore. This is a good thing. But underlying desires, the kind that live way down in the gut, the ones that have been buried deep… they don’t go away, and they aren’t happy with “comfortable”. But fear, that familiar fear… FEAR pushes them straight back down with a sickening thud leaving me both relieved, yet cheated and unfulfilled.
So I dapple. I figure OK, I’ll “try”. TRY. Such a non committal word. I TRY things on because I know I can take them off. I TRY because it gives an excuse to not go in 100%. There is a reason Star Wars is my favourite movie and Yoda is my favourite philosopher. “There is no try, only do”. Remove the “good enough” and go for all in. If it’s not scaring me, then it’s not a challenge. If it’s not sending utter fear through my veins, then it’s not big enough. If it’s not rattling me to my core, sending my heart into a speedy dance, making my head spin so I feel like passing out, setting my hands into clammy fists, making me want to hide from the world and never speak of this dream again…. if it is not doing these things then it’s not big enough. In fact, I should be afraid if I’m not nervous, because then I don’t care.
I smell it, I hear it, I feel it and it ignites every sense I have… I am out of my comfort zone. Not just a little bit, but way out in the danger zone. This is not safe. This is scary. But this is how I can change myself, let people in, and change others. So tomorrow my hidden dream will be verbalised. It will be discussed. It will not be to play small. It will make me vulnerable. It will bring up every single conversation I have ever had with my inner imposter. Who am I to think I can do that? Who am I to even share the idea? Who am I to verbalise it? Who am I to even TRY? Why should I do this? Who am I to think it?
Who am I NOT to?