It may be time for you to just start. To not waste any more moments. To not wait on perfection. But to just get up from the floor, with wobbly knees, and start moving imperfectly into that thing that fear is always trying to hold you back from.
I can’t even begin to count the number of people I meet who have a goal, a vision of who they want to become, that they never move toward because they’re too afraid of failing. They’re afraid of what people will think. They’re afraid of not being successful in the end and inevitably breaking their own heart. The thing is, more hearts break every day over never taking that first step than anything else.
I think most of us feel this fear. Somewhere in our younger years, we learned to carry this expectation that we’d be exceptional. We’d be good. We’d do all the right things. We’d be perfect.
Maybe you learned to tell yourself, If perfection isn’t a realistic expectation, I will just get as close to perfect as possible. And these words you spoke over yourself cracked open the back door just wide enough for fear to get in. Soon enough, you became someone who writes but never presses publish. Or someone who buys the running shoes but never takes the first run. A person who always wanted to paint but never picked up the brush. Or the one who wanted to go back to school but whose internal dialogue prevented them from ever filling out the application. This is what fear will do if we opt for perfection over choosing to start just as we are in this moment.
There are no shortcuts. There are no overnight fixes. There are no detours. The instruction manual for deep change is the same every single day: Show up. Show up. Show up.
Sometimes I deal with anxiety when it comes to social situations, and my first instinct is not to show up at all. I think the culture has made it really comfortable to claim you want a lazy night on the couch away from others because then you won’t have to have deep conversations or endure small talk or commit to more things. It’s a sour-grapes attitude, and I am really trying to work on it.
My husband, Lane, keeps reminding me to change the way I’m talking about events on the calendar, and I’ve started opening up to others about it, admitting that I’ve created a problem where there wasn’t one before. That I have all these things on my calendar, and I treat them like hurdles to get over rather than opportunities that God may want me to step into. I do a really bad job of being present for other people when I don’t even feel like being in the moment.
I lived for too long believing that showing up was ineffective if I was still afraid. The fear may still linger, but there is power in ignoring the fear and taking that first step anyway.
When in spite of your fear you choose to go after the things that matter to you, you’re actively saying to the fear, “I know you want to try to hold me back from this, but I am going to show up, no matter what. So you can go and pick a better subject, but I won’t be subdued by your efforts anymore.”
When you start showing up, you learn that some of the most beautiful things only happened because you found the courage to exit your own head and just do the next necessary thing.
It won’t always be easy. And you may go through times when you feel like you’re the only one who shows up consistently. Keep flexing that muscle. Out of consistency grows trust. Out of trust grows loyalty. Out of loyalty comes the steady ordinary. You may not see it right now, but the ordinary is the gold of this lifetime.
Before we move forward, you need to know this truth: You are not alone. You—at the starting line or picking up where you left off years ago—are not alone. It’s tempting to believe everyone else has it all together and is moving forward with no difficulty at all, but we’re all overcoming hurdles and roadblocks in our own ways. You are surrounded, even if you don’t see it. You are capable of showing up to the things that are right in front of you today.
So here’s to first steps.
To lacing up the shoes and taking that first run.
To sending the text or writing that first paragraph.
To filling out the application or saying that first prayer.
You don’t have to see the whole story of how things will unfold outlined in front of you. It’s much simpler than that. Just decide to show up to this day—this very hour—with everything you have. And then repeat the same thing tomorrow. You never know how close to the breakthrough you actually are. Don’t quit before the miracles start to happen.
Taken from Fighting Forward by Hannah Brencher. Copyright © 2021 by Hannah Brencher. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.
Hannah Brencher is the author of Fighting Forward, a blogger, TED speaker and entrepreneur. She founded The World Needs More Love Letters, a global community dedicated to sending letter bundles to those who need encouragement. Named as one of the White House’s “Women Working to Do Good” and a spokesperson for the United States Postal Service, Hannah has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Oprah, Glamour, USATODAY.com, the Chicago Tribune and more. Find Hannah at hannahbrencher.com.