Is There Also Room In This World For MY Big, Brave Voice?

Photo: courtesy of the author
radical acceptance

I was just reading through Glennon Doyle’s Facebook page. I love her. She is brave and brilliant. Her work is so powerful.

But, as I read her profound words and watched her insightful videos, I couldn’t help but think, “Oh, shit. She’s SO good. She has this incredible following and what she does is so on the mark. She’s talking about so many of the things I think, write, and talk about. Should I bother to discuss those things, too? Does the world really need someone else to inspire them to love more, love better, and be true to themselves?!”

As I reflected upon what I am passionately attempting to do in my life, those old, familiar feelings of uncertainty and insecurity bubbled up from deep within.

Ok. I’ll admit it. There were even some spikes of jealousy that splashed their way up as well. As I wrestled with these feelings — on the one hand, recognizing my self-doubt for the fraud and trickster that it is, while on the other hand, being sober that Glennon truly rocks and that she has cracked the code in amassing a huge, incredibly loyal following, I eventually realized something crucial.

It’s not about Glennon. It’s about me and my creative path. 

Andrea Miller and Helen Fisher

It’s about what I have to say; about the powerful, impassioned work that I am doing, and the unique insights that I bring to the world. It’s about honoring my truth and following my passion. 

And I realized that it’s probably about you, too.

Maybe you also wrestle with self-doubt and spend so much time questioning what you’re capable of that you put the kibosh on your big dreams before you give yourself a minute to even think about them!

Sadly, learning how to overcome self-doubt isn't easy to do. It's very common for so many of us to allow those anxieties to wreak havoc on our ambitions — particularly for many women — how we let perfectionism or comparing ourselves to others undermine our efforts.

Far too often too many of us snuff out that gorgeous inner glow before it has the chance to even begin to spark and smolder.

Of course, there are those beacons of hope that shine from afar: the accomplished female writers and thought leaders whom I greatly admire — who are love, courage, and inspiration incarnate — how they had the guts, grit, and intelligence to successfully GO FOR IT.

Marianne Williamson. Helen Fisher. Louise Hay. Oprah. Brene Brown. Anne Lamott. Maya Angelou. Esther Perel. Byron Katie. There is a whole pantheon of such beautiful, powerful, brilliant women that belong on this list.

Who knows if I will ever be among them? But what I realize is that a). feeling the need to achieve their status of fame, acclaim, and Facebook fans is my errant, menacing ego messing with me (AGAIN!) and that b). far more crucially, I have MY story and MY ideas and MY passionate, candid, courageous take on things to offer the world.

Teddy Roosevelt once said that “comparison is the thief of joy.” While that’s an epic understatement, it only touches on half of the problem.

The other half is the incredible pressure so many of us put on ourselves to translate our dreams and creative ambitions into quantitative thresholds, e.g. gauging success based on a massive number of books sold, people engaged, fans followed, videos viewed, and on and on. There’s always someone with more Twitter followers or Facebook fans, after all.

Despite all of these doubt and comparison-filled musings, I am a newly published author and a successful media entrepreneur who has built a site (YourTango! The #1 digital publisher of love and relationships editorial!) that has a very large audience, a unique business model, and an impressive social media following.

But I am only now putting myself out there as a writer and public speaker — so I’m in and out of my comfort zone while attempting something new, a little scary, and super exciting. My book is not a best-seller quite yet, but I but I believe in it passionately. It’s called Radical Acceptance: The Secret to Happy, Lasting Love. It’s all about replacing judgment with compassion and empathy.

It’s a brave book written in a way that is conversational and extremely personal. I share the good, the bad, and the ugly of my marriage and who I am. I ardently advocate in Radical Acceptance for readers to take off their masks and share their vulnerabilities as a means to accept themselves and connect more meaningfully with others.

In fact, I wrote this article right before my book launched admitting to being simultaneously terrified and awed by the creative process and how unnerving it was to put myself out there in a way that was so personal and raw. To feel so exposed was/is daunting. But, I received many messages from people thanking me for validating their experiences, making it worth the risk.

I confess that it feels a little crazy to write this essay and share all of these private thoughts as well… but, damn, if these doubts are dogging me, surely there are plenty of others that are pushing their own comfort zones who will release a quiet sigh of relief reading my words and think, “Oh my God. Me, too! It’s nice to know someone else also feels this way."

My hope is that what I'm articulating causes someone else to feel a little less alone. I am enormously grateful to others who have the guts to publicly share their uncomfortable truth. I feel I owe it to them (and myself and you!) to be honest about how these waves of doubt surface from time-to-time, especially as I fall prey to comparing myself with those who have reached the pinnacle as exceptionally gifted writers.

I know that my job now is to look at their work and admire it, to not be the least bit jealous but inspired by it, knowing that they have all found their voice by using it … by writing and speaking bravely and beautifully, yes, but crucially by being TRUE to themselves, by taking risks and putting themselves out there, by believing passionately in their own ideas, and not allowing self-doubt to crater their efforts.

I was lamenting recently to my friend Larry over email about what was going on in my life. As my book was launching and I planned for various events, media appearances, etc, he wrote to me, “Pace yourself. My irreverent prediction is you're not likely to get much sleep for a very, very long time to come.”

To which I replied, “Trying to take your advice and pace myself. But truth be told, I have cried more in the last handful of months than in all of my adult life. I didn’t expect to go through the crucible quite like this.” His reply was brilliant.

“Don't worry about the crucible. What burns off is the dross — there's nothing precious in that which disappears in the flames. Only that which is most noble and truly enduring remains. A crucible is merely a tool via which the universe ‘right-sizes’ us — usually by downsizing those bits of our ego that have wandered off the reservation and are off on a frolic of their own making. 

Keep burning. You will like the end result. I guarantee it.”

And so as I sit here on my laptop at 1 am, knowing I have to get up early to get my kids to school and show up for my day job, I can’t help but feel that my particular crucible doesn’t just generate the excruciating heat required to forge, strengthen and shape the most powerful, creative version of me, but that it also radiates a glimmer of light.

It’s flickering with my potential, if I can just stay true to myself, believe in my impulses and trust that my path will unfold in ways that are gratifying and impactful — with or without selling millions of books or getting the masses to follow me on Facebook. And what an added bonus it is to be learning to let go of an outcome that is virtually impossible to control.

Esther Perel, Andrea Miller, and Sanjay Bhatnagar

And so, yes, I will keep writing and keep burning.

Glennon, please keep lighting up my and so many others’ worlds with all of those Love Warrior missives. God bless ya, sister — Abby, too! Truly.

And if you have ambitious dreams or are on a path that requires great courage or a strong belief in yourself, remember that going through the crucible will ultimately strengthen you. Don’t worry if a similar story has been written before; don’t fret that someone else painted haystacks or wrote a song about loss or heartbreak. 

Please take my friend Larry’s advice and “burn on”! There’s plenty of room in the world for my big, brave voice — and yours. 

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