overcoming fear

Just start.

How do you start to make a change?

I say, "just start". 

The starting is the hardest part. We often overthink everything into freaking ourselves out OR we put it off thinking we will have the time "someday". 

What if someday never comes? (it never does) 

The good news?? We can start today. 

 

We often sit and wait for a change to happen to us. And we fail to see that we need to become that change, we need to ignite it. 

The job will be the job until we change it.

The relationship will be the relationship until we change it.

The physical block of whatever kind will be there until we access the thing inside us that is contributing to it. 

No pill or drink or snack will make life feel better forever. Only we can do that for ourselves.

 

So, why don't we start now, if it's really that easy? For a few reasons. Often, starting to make a new change involves changing something that has become REALLY familiar, even if it's incredibly uncomfortable or not working very well. It takes a lot of energy to turn the Titanic away from even the most unhealthy habits or patterns, even when we know they aren't serving us. The mere thought of changing that and the energy it would require can be intimidating to the point that we never do it.

Sometimes the relationships we are in help keep us where we are. In fact, we KEEP people around even when they aren't who serve us the most, just so that we don't actually have to improve our lives. Or we continue patterns with them even when we know it holds us back in some way. 

How did I take on the process of changing my entire identity? One thing at a time. It happened in many phases over many years. My clothes, my hair, my name, my pronouns, my business focus, my patience, my self-expression, my inner dialogue.

How did I take on the process of improving my health? One day at a time, starting with getting my first job in a health food store in 2001. Maybe it even started back before that, when I bought my first box of couscous in Fresh Fields when I was in high school. Making my own train mix with my first girlfriend when I was 22. Becoming orthorexic, where I obsessed over the sourcing and nutrients of everything I ate, and finding a better balance to actually be able to enjoy ice cream and a hamburger again.

I planted the seeds of who I have become and what I know and do a long time ago. The habits and patterns I practice now happened as a result of me starting one thing at a time, not worrying about how it would all turn out.

I wish I could remember this when I get completely overwhelmed or freaked out at the prospect of writing my book. Instead of thinking of it one story or one chapter at at time, I get instantly overwhelmed by this massive idea of "a book". Yikes!

If you're thinking you want to change your whole damn life, that the whole damn thing isn't working for you, you might feel incredibly uncomfortable and just want everything to feel better NOW. So you try to eat healthy AND exercise 5 times a week AND meditate or pray AND change your job AND stop drinking and smoking, etc. 

Unrealistic. Completely and totally unrealistic. This will almost certainly end with you giving up, quitting and feeling like a huge failure. It's too much at once.

I always recommend people try one thing, one small thing or maybe even two. PIck two goals and hit them and anything extra is bonus. Want to change your job? Great. Start with updating your resume. Apply to three jobs you like. Take a sabbatical and experience NOT WORKING for a few months. Stop eating out all the time and you'll be amazed how much money you can find. That's how I got my client into a new job in four months when he felt stuck there for seven years.

Or how I got my client to leave her 12-year marriage. She ate really well and exercised and slept more and she felt the courage and conviction to take one step at a time. She was out and living in her own apartment within nine months of us working together. 12 years compared to nine months.

What do you want to change or alter? 

Exercise habits?

Nutrition?

Job?

Relationship?

Haircut?

Spiritual practice?

The way you allow yourself to receive help and support even if it means feeling exposed and vulnerable?

Pick one. And pick two things you can do right now.

And just start. 

 

You might find my recent post about starting anything new helpful. It was recently tweeted by the good folks at TEDxSomerville. Did you know I'm a featured speaker? Super cool. You can sign up for updates here: http://tedxsomerville.org/2015/

 

Meeting the Author Andrew Solomon

I have a little story to share with you. It's about me being afraid, and then--how I overcame that fear and had an awesome experience as a result. I'm afraid. It's true. And I hide a little. It sucks. And I'm surprised (not really) at how much I've been doing it lately (but it's ok).

You see, being transgender is hard. I feel torn between being out and proud, as so many of my beloved friends and supporters want me to be, and just being "me". Not "Dillan who is trans*" but "Dillan who is...trying hard to figure out what trans* means". Part of me wants to be out there as a living, breathing trans* person (hey, we aren't scary or weird, see!) to make the world a better, more accepting place. Part of me wants to blend in with the other guys and not be out there, stigmatized for the world to gawk at.

Tough call, right?

So, the other day I receive this email from a dear, dear friend. She's stellar. Off-the-charts amazingly supportive and wonderful. Her name is Jan and she's a mentor, friend and just a superb human being. She emails me that Andrew Solomon is coming to talk about his new book at the school where I'm enrolled for graduate school. I think, "crap, who's Andrew Solomon?" But, I trust Jan with every fiber of my being. So I go, no questions asked.

I arrive and Jan comes over and says, "come over and meet Andrew". Given my recent experience meeting Kim Phuc just last week and Winnie Mandela in 2000 (and countless other amazing individuals who happen to also be famous in some way), I am growing accustomed to shaking hands with these people who...having achieved great things and popularity are still just...people. People who want to have normal interactions with other people. And I am grateful to meet them and thank them for sharing their gifts with the world.

I know a little about Andrew from the chapters I've skimmed in his book ever so briefly, especially the chapter on transgender folks. Trans* folks like me. His new book is called Far From the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity

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I greet him. He shakes my hand warmly and kindly asks, "how are you involved in today's event?"

Great question. I freeze. I'm afraid. "I'm Jan's friend," I say. I feel like Baby in the movie Dirty Dancing when she meets Johnny and says, "I carried a watermelon."

Jan smiles. She knows. I'm terrified in my skin some days and feeling out of sorts. It's winter. I always feel this way in the winter. But this winter, I'm also trying to find my feet as a trans*guy.

Andrew smiles and says "it's a pleasure"...and all those wonderful things someone says when they are wonderful.

I walk away and confess that it wasn't my best effort. Jan gets it.

Andrew's presentation begins and my heart tightens when he approaches the part about trans* people. See, his book is all about kids who have the unfailing support from their family. His book is about the tremendous capacity to love, despite the odds of having a child who is "different" from others.

I think to myself that I may have to leave. I don't have the unfailing support from my family. And it's been tremendously hard. I don't know if I can listen to these stories, yet more stories, of kids who are so lucky to have this support from their parents as they take on really hard life experiences.

But I find the courage and strength inside to stay in my seat. My friend Becca, Jan's daughter-in-law, rubs my back a little. She also gets it.

Outside, Andrew is set up at a table to sign books. I buy a book. Well-worth my $40. I stand in line, wait my turn. I approach Andrew and lean down and say, "so I've found my voice now."

He smiles. Eager to listen.

"I'm trans*" I say.  "I'm transgender and I"m a graduate student here, and I'm writing my memoir."

We instantly engage in a heartfelt and gorgeous conversation where he, in just a few sentences, conveys how much he "gets it" and how I have his support.

*I have his support*

It's enormously heartening to hear those words. No matter who it's from or when it comes.

We pose for a picture with Jan---one of the most perfect on-the-fly photos I've ever taken.

 

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Turns out, being "out" as trans* today was a great decision. Hiding and playing small--that didn't serve me so well during that first introduction. I'm grateful I got a second chance to be my true self. It worked out nicely.

--NOTE TO SELF--

you can buy Andrew's (INCREDIBLE) book at your local book store or from his website right here: http://andrewsolomon.com/