Moving Past Some Fear

For the last five or six years, I’ve identified myself as someone who doesn’t know what she wants. I could see all the things I didn’t like about my life, all the things I didn’t want.

But the minute it was time to turn it around and start defining what I do like and do want? Instant static. Fog. I felt as though it was an unanswerable question, as though I had never wanted anything, ever, in my entire life.

A realization.

It’s bullshit, and it’s been bullshit for years. And I mean that in the kindest, most compassionate way possible.

What did I get out of identifying myself this way?

  • The safety and false comfort of the status quo.
  • There was no pressure to move forward and act, because I simply didn’t know what to do.
  • And there was no risk of having to renege on a path or admit defeat at some point in the future.

On the flipside, what did I sacrifice?

  • The satisfaction of knowing I had followed my dream. (The possibility that the dream would turn out to be not-my-dream is irrelevant.)
  • The adventure of learning that comes only by venturing into uncharted waters.
  • Precious years of my life, just waiting. Waiting for the answers to come to me when the only way they would come is to Do. The. Thing.

So why did I buy into this lie?

Why do I still slip back into this pattern of inaction due to (apparent) lack of desire and direction? Well, I’m sure there’s lots of reasons, but here’s a biggie:

I’ve been embarrassed.

Embarrassed to say it out loud. Ashamed to talk about it.

“It?” you ask. What is it?

*taking a deep breath*

Coaching. I want to be a coach. There I said it.

And until a few days ago, the irony was lost on me.

Here I am, dreaming to be a coach who can empower people to feel good about being themselves, feel GOOD about going after whatever it is that makes their heart sing. Yet I’ve been embarrassed to flat-out tell people that’s what I want to do.

Sure, sometimes my coaching comes up in conversation, and I’ll concede that I enjoy the work and will probably do more of it “someday”. And then I usually go on about how “I’m just not sure it’s right for me, so I’m waiting until I find some clarity about what I really want.”

But not too long ago I realized that’s just a story I tell myself to calm the ache I feel when I’m aware that I’m not yet doing the thing I’m meant to do.

I mean, how can I truly help people do the thing they want to do, the thing they might even be afraid to want, if I’m afraid to tell the world about wanting to be a coach?

(In my own defense, part of my embarrassment comes from the extreme cheesiness that can be found in the world of personal development. I really don’t want to be one of those cheeseballs.)

Even as I type this post, there is a part of me that’s screaming inside. Wailing and stomping her feet to get me to stop typing. To just maintain the status quo and keep my damn mouth shut.

Just now, she said, “Nobody’s going to take you seriously if you publish this post. You’re too broken to help anybody.”

And I’m embarrassed for being embarrassed. If anyone else told me they wanted to do the very thing that I am wanting to do, I would cheer them on, and I would also be envious that they were going to make it happen. I would whine and wonder why they can do it but I can’t.

I wouldn’t think that they should be embarrassed or feel the need to apologize. Somehow that rule only applies to me.

The contradiction made it that much harder to talk about my dream, and to get help to move past the shame-factor.

I could try to analyze the reasons that contributed to me feeling shame around my heart’s desires, but I think there’s only limited benefit in unwinding all of them.

What matters is that I see the irony now. I see that it’s important for me to move beyond this and model the outcome I would want for the people I work with.

Is this still terrifying? Hell, yeah.

Do you know how long I’ve been obsessing over this post and questioning if I really want to tell the whole world about all of this? (Well, not that the whole world is reading. But they could. If they wanted.)

And then there’s my tendency to go into self-flagellation mode when I realize how much time I’ve “wasted”. And how ridiculous it is that I feel this way. Blah blah blah.

Yes, the patterns are still there. And probably will be for a long time, if not forever. (It doesn’t matter, anyway, because even if these patterns go away, there will just be new ones to work with. Ask Havi.)

But really this is a giant gift. Because now I know what it’s like to want something really badly, but to be afraid to say it out loud to anyone.

39 thoughts on “Moving Past Some Fear

  1. Dick Carlson

    Maybe you just don’t want to use the word “C##ch”. (I, personally, can’t write that word when I’m talking about someone who helps others improve their business skills. I can say “T-Ball Coach” or “Lamaze Coach” just fine, but when I try to say “Business CXXch” it just never works.)

    @havi has the same problem with “Maxxeting”, I think. She just can’t actually say the word.

    (On a side note, I’m perfectly ok with talking about “business branding” if it involves a CEO and a red-hot iron — otherwise, not so much.)

    Congratulations on saying out loud what you want to do. I hope it’s not c@@ching, but if it comes to that — do what you have to. Maybe it could be “problem solving” or “infrastruction determinanational refractionism” or “biggification”. Ooops — that last one is taken, I think.

    Dick Carlson’s last blog post..Celebrate What You Suck At!

  2. JoVE

    I think anyone who goes through a career change has a period like this. The “from” and the “to” might change. The “to” might even be less clear than it is for you. But making a big change in career is pretty scary. And it carries all kinds of feelings of having “wasted” the years you spent doing the first thing (and the training for it) and worry that the second thing won’t really be the thing and you’ll have to change again.

    But, like moving to a new town, once you’ve done it once, you realize that you can do it again if you need to.

    JoVE’s last blog post..The politics of research funding

  3. Anna-Liza

    Wow, this is wonderful! I am dealing with the *exact same issue* of having no idea what I want (consciously). Thank you so much! I think you are most likely a really excellent coach. I look forward to reading a lot more.

    Anna-Liza’s last blog post..Pollyanna Clues You In

  4. Denise dS

    I really wasn’t prepared to see myself mirrored in your post (haven’t showered yet), but there I was in your first 7 paragraphs. All the stuff before the epiphany. Good for you!huzzah! fan-freaking-tastic bravery! You give all us wishy-washy, procrastinating excuse-makers hope.

    There’s nothing more annoying than a perky cheerleader who’s never faced the dragons of doubt, telling people what to do. So thank you and get coaching!

  5. James | Dancing Geek

    Oh boy can I relate to that feeling. I don’t know what I want to do? Ha – bull. I just wasn’t ok with it being that. I had all sorts of good reasons for it not being that, even though to everyone else it’s so freaking obvious (because they don’t have the hang-ups). So yeah, mine? Um, …mine would be dancing professionally. *deep breath*
    Yeah, never have thought it from my handle, right?

    James | Dancing Geek’s last blog post..Fear of biggifying

    1. Victoria

      @Dick – I definitely have toyed with the idea of finding a different word. But in the end, doing so fell into the category of things that would keep me from starting if I waited to figure them out first.

      @JoVE – I’ve been learning quite a bit that I am not alone in some of these struggles. It’s comforting!

      @Anna-Liza and @Jolie – Thank you for such encouraging words!

      @Denise dS – I think I can safely promise that I’ll never be a perky cheerleader.

      @Pam – Thanks, Pam. You’ve been an enormous encouragement to me over the past several years (eek – has it been that long already?).

      @Hiro – Thank you for all your help and support. xoxo

  6. Pace

    This is so brave of you, Victoria. It’s inspiring to read your story!

    I have a funny feeling that you’re going to be an AMAZING coach. (;

    Strike that. You already ARE an amazing coach.

    Pace’s last blog post..It was me, all along.

  7. chris zydel

    Hey Victoria,

    Congratulations for putting it out there and really claiming your dream! No matter WHAT you call it! That is just so cool!!

    You are a courageous inspiration, my dear! And I am now very happy to have a non-cheesy coach that I can make referrals to!


    chris zydel’s last blog post..CATASTROPHES R ( NO LONGER) US

  8. Michelle Russell

    Victoria–Congratulations! You said it!!! I understand how much courage that took. And now that you’ve declared your intentions out “loud” (what would the “e”-quivalent term be for text, I wonder?), I’ll bet coaching opportunities are going to start appearing in all kinds of interesting places!

    @Dick–“infrastruction determinanational refractionism”? Have you been playing with Scott Adams’s Mission Statement Generator again? ;o)

    1. Victoria

      @James – So we’ve said it out loud and now we’re both committed. You know that, right? ;-)

      @Pace – It sure feels good to hear that! Big hugs!

      @Christine – So great to know I’m not alone in this. And also interesting that it always *feels* like I am. At least until I’m willing to share. Maybe it means we need to share sooner rather than later. Not that it’s easy to do, or anything!

      @Chris & @Michelle – Thank you, thank you! It feels good to celebrate here! Really good.

  9. Leah

    Hoorah!! Congrats on putting it out there! I know how scary that can be.

    SARK started calling her coaching services “Couching” which I thought was a fun way to re-name it. :-)

    Leah’s last blog post..Colorful Poems

  10. Fi (@fibowman)

    Well done to you for recognising the reason you were avoiding the dream. Because I’ve done the same thing for freakin YEARS over being an artist – because of embarrassment. Yes, too embarrassed to say to people, “I want to be an artist” let alone “I am an artist.”

    I believe we have too many voices in our heads from doubters and cynics and we let them shout louder than not just our own voices crying, “Yes!” but also those of everyone who really is behind us. So, instead of saying, “This is what I want and I’m going to do my best at it,” and hearing all those friends saying, “Yes! You will be brilliant!” we always here the parents who say, “Are you sure that’s wise?” or the jealous colleagues who tell us about a friend of a friend who tried it and FAILED – as if that’s got any bearing whatsoever on our future.

    And then we get embarrassed because we don’t want to have to justify our desire and present the rationale for it and provide a freakin’ 5 year business plan every time we mention it just to fend off the voices of doubters and cynics.

    So, hooray again for recognising the embarrassment under the avoidance. And for meeting it and not being impressed, and then posting here to let everyone know that you’re not letting it stop you anymore. You go, Victoria. We’ve all got your back.

  11. Sarah M. Greer


    I named my purpose for my life and work in a post ( a few weeks ago and it WAS scary. Thinking about people reading it and thinking I was unrealistic (or strange, or stupid or …) crossed my mind more than once while preparing to hit the “publish” button.

    Congratulations to you for having the courage to say what you want out loud. You’ve now given the universe (or Universe) permission to help you get what you want. (At least, I really hope that’s how it works — I’m kind of counting on it.)

    Thanks, too, for the discussion about treating yourself the way you would treat others pursuing the same goal (i.e encouraging them, being jealous *smile*, etc.). I could really relate to that.

    Good luck, Coach!

    Sarah M. Greer’s last blog post..Songtaneous Big and Small

  12. rowena

    Wow. It is so hard to go for your dreams. I know it. For me, that manifested in hiding my work. I kept at it, but I shied away from taking it to the wide world– selling, publishing.

    I’ve been working at these blockages for 15 years, and I’m only now starting to get somewhere. I should have had a coach!

  13. Lawrence

    Wow! Like reading a message that my own heart left on the kitchen table for me so that I’d “just stumble onto it”.

    for me, my embarrassing dream is writing plays and fiction.

    Thank you for rallying your courage and posting this!!

    (discovered this through a tweet by havi)

  14. Kate

    Hurrah! Go you! I’m hopping up and down with love and joy and admiration for your courage and shiny new insights.

    I reckon the fact that you feel this way is exactly what qualifies you to help other people with this stuff. And God knows we all need the help!

    Kate’s last blog post..Brida

  15. Erika Harris


    Have you ever noticed the unusual (and nearly universal) way adults act when they gather around a new-born baby? They gaze at it with adoration and reverence in their eyes. They speak in soothing, hushed voices. Their own facial expressions soften, and even if they don’t say “ga ga goo” you know they want to let out something just as visceral and innocent and unblemished as the bundled miracle they’re staring at.

    That’s how this post made me feel.

    It stirred up all of those deep, soulful feelings that resonate with the best parts of being human — magically and vulnerably human. Your transparency was startling… and so precise.

    Precise enough to even cut off someone *else’s* chains.

    And THAT transcends any certification or title. THAT is a cosmic service.

    I suspect you’ve had a sense of just how large and deep your gift is and, perhaps, the size of it was frightening? Because you can’t live unnoticed with that kind of largesse inside of you. But as most of us here have benefitted from Havi’s masterful way-showing in biggification, we come to learn that being noticed, and large, is neither the goal nor the reward. Being our Self, and Doing our Thing is the goal and the reward.

    I send you love, and cheers, and respect for having taken a quantum flight toward just that.

    Erika Harris’s last blog post..How To Talk From Your Heart

  16. Sherri

    Thank you for mustering up the courage to post this! That already makes you a great coach in my eyes.

    I am in that identifying what I want to do place- very much aware of what I don’t want to do. The more the “what I want” part takes shape, though, the more illusive it seems. I think I’m zeroing in. When I figure it out, I expect to get a lot of “you quit doing that for this?” reactions. But then, maybe that’s all in my head and it will really be fine.

    Keep moving forward with your coaching. You will be wonderful!

    Sherri’s last blog post..Photo Friday: Peaceful Garden

  17. Jessica

    Wow. That is one powerful post. I’ve been struggling with this same thing for years. And only now – in the middle of a divorce after having lost my job – I’m forced to start doing whatever it is I want to do. (Still telling myself I don’t know what that is, even though I do, just need to get the strength to say it . . . I’ll get there soon.) Thank you for having the strength.

    Jessica’s last blog post..When will I be closer to fine?

  18. Duff

    I highly recommend coaching. It’s totally rewarding. I don’t recommend being a “success” coach though, because then you have to pretend to always be successful. That one didn’t work for me. But now I have a particular method of wholeness that I facilitate with clients, and that works much better, as I don’t have to be whole or successful to do that.

    Feel free to get in touch if you want to chat more about coaching and how to get started (I recommend just offering your services right away for free to people in your network–coaching is really something you learn by doing).

    Duff’s last blog post..The Dangers of Transformation

    1. Victoria

      @Sherri – I know that place well, and it’s a hard place to be. Keep zeroing in – gently. And try to surround yourself as much as possible with the people who will support you rather than judge you for what you want to do. It’s so important to nurture that little elusive inkling of desire.

      1. Victoria

        Wow – I’m overwhelmed by all these wonderful words of support and encouragement.

        @Sarah, @rowena & @Lawrence – Thank you for coming here to declare (or declare again) your dreams. We will just have to support each other when it’s difficult.

        @Leah – Thanks, and thanks also for telling me about “couching” – I love that. Opens up all sorts of possibilities!

        @Kate – I’m hopping up and down with you! Thank you!

        @Erika – Reading your comment brought tears to my eyes. And made me take a big, deep breath to inhale the truth of it. It makes me say, “YES!” You nailed it…the fact that – when all is said and done – my heart wants to participate in providing that cosmic service to help people be their True Selves, and Do the Thing they were born to do.

  19. Sandra

    Thank you for having the courage to publish this! Isn’t it amazing when the thing that we hide inside in shame and fear is the thing that connects us to humanity? Good luck on your journey, you have inspired me to put myself out there a little more and to reach a little further; and to ignore the screaming child inside who tells me it’s no use.

  20. Pingback: Pollyanna Thinks She Just Wants to Have Fun, if That’s Okay with You « Pollyanna Rainbow Sunshine and the Needles of Doom

    1. Victoria

      @Duff – Ugh – I’d definitely fail at being a success coach. If I can’t be real, then forget it, you know? Thanks for the offer to chat – I’ll definitely take you up on it soon!

      @Mocah & @Sandra – Thanks! I’m glad to hear that the post is inspiring others, because that’s what it’s really about!

  21. Kelly Parkinson

    Victoria, this is wonderful! Yay for you! I remember having so many of these feelings when I decided to go for what I wanted; but then in the process of Doing the Thing, I realized all this time I’d spent doing these other things had become incredibly useful. This so-called wasted time actually helped me help my clients even more than I could have otherwise. It wasn’t a waste at all. Okay, maybe some tiny part of it was, but I consider that part an investment. Because every time I look back, it motivates me to be that much better, just to prove to myself that it doesn’t matter when I started. There will always be enough time. And nothing is ever truly going to waste. You’ll surprise yourself by how much those Other Things will come in handy. Oh, and you’re going to make an AWESOME coach! My coach-dar is ringing loud and clear!


  22. Barbara Martin

    Hey Victoria! A wise person once said, “… Keep zeroing in – gently. And try to surround yourself as much as possible with the people who will support you rather than judge you for what you want to do. It’s so important to nurture that little elusive inkling of desire.” Sound familiar? Go! Go! Go!:)

    Barbara Martin’s last blog post..8 Steps to Sensually Enhance Creative Space

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