I am undeclared.
Let me start from the beginning.
If you know anything about me — or my journey — you know there’s been a lot of soul-searching, leap-taking, risk-assessing, world-traveling, business-hopping and full-body jumping into the unknown with a “holy shit, please let me land on my feet” attitude.
In today’s entrepreneurial climate, it’s not unusual to go for your dreams; to cast “fear” to the wind, or to use your fear to get you from point A to B.
But there is a misnomer about this thing called fear.
Since The Fear Paradox launched this week (a three-day summit I am producing this summer for women entrepreneurs), I thought it was best to get real with fear, both for myself and for all of the people who don’t talk about the things they are really afraid of talking about. Fear comes in many forms. Quiet and repressed. Anxious and resisting. Raging and roaring. Fear manifests itself in our jobs, our relationships, our sex lives, our financial matters, our religions, our politics, our bodies and our own hearts and psyches.
This expands into any of the following:
Fear of getting older.
Fear of gaining weight.
Fear of falling in love with the wrong person.
Fear of falling in love with the right person and getting hurt.
Fear of staying in the same love container with one person for the rest of your life.
Fear of failing at business.
Fear of quitting a job.
Fear of starting a new job.
Fear of moving to a new city.
Fear of staying in the same city.
Fear of putting your ideas out in the world.
Fear of speaking up.
Fear of disagreeing with the status quo.
Fear of changing your mind.
Fear of missing out.
Fear of looking back and regretting.
Fear of making mistakes.
Fear of taking chances.
Fear of not taking chances.
Fear of being perceived as not enough.
Fear of being perceived as too much.
Waking up one day at 80, wondering, “What the fuck happened to my life?”
Here’s the thing about fear. It’s really not this horrible thing we think it is. Fear is really just fuel to help you step into action. Fear is usually accompanied by a host of other emotions, such as: excitement, confidence, “the butterflies,” anxiety, exhilaration, freedom, clarity and pure energy. How much priority are you giving to fear? Where in the succession of all these emotions do you let it fall? Only you can determine that.
So instead of figuring out how to conquer your fears (been there, done that), I think it’s more vital to examine why you fear what you fear and learn how to use that why to help you do something about it.
The first step? Talking about it.
So in the spirit of walking my own walk, I’m opening up today about a real fear I have never publicly talked about. And yet, there is a tiny voice inside my heart that is nudging me to “come clean.” And so here I go.
I am not sure I want to have a baby.
And on the flip side…I am not sure I don’t want a baby.
I am undeclared.
Being 35 years old, two years married and childless, being undeclared around babies doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to most people. I can’t tell you how often I get the question:
When are you starting a family?
For the baby-goers, I see my girlfriends who are In It, who have spit up on their shirts, leaky breasts, sleep-deprived husbands, endless worry tinged with unconditional love and that glazed look that says, “I love this tiny human so much, but if you don’t take it away, I’m going to lose my shit.” I’ve also seen the women who “have it all” with four children, glossy blowouts, thriving businesses, killer partners and exceptional lives.
There’s no hard and fast truth about choices being one way or the other. It’s all about the reality of a situation, not the perception of what we assume it might be.
Reality: I’m a world traveler. I’m in love with my business and my relationship. I’m afraid of my freedom being ripped away, because I’ve worked so hard to achieve it. Could I travel the world with a tiny human strapped to my chest? Sure, I could. Could I also be a slave to my apartment and never see another glittering continent as long as I live?
Well, anything is possible.
I know women who were surprised by their pregnancies and who leaned all the way in. I know women who’ve wanted children their entire lives but couldn’t have them, and that heartbreak eventually taught them something valuable about what they really wanted.
But they’re not me. And I’m not them.
I have to keep that in mind when I see families, mothers, fathers, children, screaming babies, pregnancy bumps, engaged couples, teens, CEOs, celebrities and am forced to inevitably ask myself:
What do I really want from MY life?
There are so many facets of parenting that bring up my other fears: body, relationship, business, travel. No matter how I examine it, I can’t think about parenting as a singular, separate thing, because it would be so tightly wound with all the other whys in my life. It’s simply a different way of being that I have not chosen to take a part in. (Yet?)
But here’s another truth: There’s beauty and freedom in that indecision, in the NOT declaring. Because uncertainty means there is room for change and growth. It means there are options. It means there are myriad of possibilities for how my life as a mother (or not) could look.
So get to your fears.
Then get to your WHY.
And then talk about it.
With urgency. With interest. Dissect it, stick your fingers into it, poke and prod and shake it until your fears falls to your feet in an aha-holy-shit-epiphany-like clump.
And if you can’t figure it out? Be undeclared…and then move on with your fabulous life.