"I'd... um... I'd like to be considered for... any opportunities... to do more for our agency. I'd love a new challenge."
That was me speaking to my boss nearly 2 years ago.
I remember it like it was yesterday. Heart racing, body trembling, palms sweaty, voice shaking... all while trying to say those few simple words.
Once the words were out, I wanted to grab them back and hide them in the deepest darkest hole I could find. But there they were, out there for all the world to hear.
I had played out this scenario in my mind so many times. I knew I was growing bored and tired of the work I was doing. If I was going to stay interested and productive, I needed a new challenge. So after weeks and weeks of thinking about every possibly outcome and angle (none of which I could have controlled), I finally went for it.
I pushed through all the mental torment of thinking I'm not good enough and being worried I'd say the wrong thing or worst of all being rejected.
Through all of that mess, I found the courage to share those few words, and awaited her response.
Shortly after that conversation, (things worked out pretty well, but more on that next week.) I sat down and wrote the following words. I hope these words help to inspire you:
I Have a Confession...
I'm not going to lie to you,
I did it.
I wanted to do it. I had to do it, for me.
What other choice did I really have?
Sure, I could have walked away, I could have left, I could have ignored, but no. I've done all of that for far too long.
Much too long.
So yes, I did it. And to be honest... I liked it.
I liked taking control. I liked feeling powerful. I liked the rush that I felt as it happened.
A rush, a feeling, a belief that I could do... anything.
Yes, I was nervous beforehand, but once I decided to go through with it, it was easy. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, if presented with the same opportunity, I'd do it again.
You see, I've been tortured, held captive for years. Stuck in a space under the complete control of this... thing.
This thing that I created.
I wasn't born with it, I didn't purchase it or inherit it. I made it. I constructed it in my own mind and now it controlled me.
I had to ask permission before taking a step, making a move, sometimes even before taking a breath. My hands were bound behind me. My eyes couldn't see beyond the dark. My mouth was sealed shut. My voice was long gone.
I was nothing.
I was a slave shackled and unable to stand. I was broken and defeated. I even considered letting everything go and submitting full control over to this thing that had me imprisoned.
But then I realized,
he can only do what I allow him to do.
I realized that I put myself in this position.
I tortured myself.
I stole my own confidence.
I stole my own voice.
So today, I unlatched the cage, loosened my ropes, flexed my muscles, and flipped the switch.
There was light.
I had heard about this light before, but I had not seen it for myself. It was so bright, nearly blinding, but beautiful.
But just beyond the light, walking toward me, was the thing that had controlled me. He was walking toward me, shouting and screaming at me:
GET BACK! ... LIE DOWN!... SHUT UP!
The closer he got the larger he became, blocking more and more of that wonderful light.
But this time I was prepared. This time I was smarter, and ready. As he lunged toward me, we engaged in a battle. He was stronger and much more skilled than me.
He pinned me down several times, but I remembered that I had been here before. I knew all of his tricks, I knew what he would do next. Each time he moved I countered. Each time he swung at me, I saw it coming and got out the way.
With every miss he grew smaller. I knew his weaknesses, I knew what he thought his strength was, and I didn't allow him to use it anymore.
I took control. I took over. I fought back. I landed blow after blow, breaking him down into nothing until he was gone.
Yes, I confess...
I defeated fear!
For Your Viewing Pleasure
Courage does not have to be a constant state of mind or being. Everyone gets scared, and sometimes fear is good. But for those moments when you have to act, when you have to do something that you're afraid to do. It really doesn't take much. Check out this 47 second clip from the movie "We Bought a Zoo." It's helped me keep things in perspective and I hope it will help you too!
“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” ― Benjamin Mee
Your Next Action Steps
When was the last time you did something courageous? No matter how big or small, share your story in the comments. We can all be inspired by each other's stories.
For example: Over the past few weeks I've been talking more with my direct supervisor about applying for a new position within my agency. In the past I never would have expressed my desire to take on more responsibility. I would have just quietly applied and hoped for the best. But I believe by talking with my supervisor and expressing my willingness to take on more work, I've given myself a better opportunity for advancement.