I grew up being scared of a lot of things— participating in a sport where there was a significant chance of injury (or, even worse, embarrassment), spiders, snakes, skiing, roller coasters…the list goes on. Every day before I left the house, my mom would wrap me in bubble wrap. OK, she didn’t literally wrap me in bubble wrap, but between the two of us scaredy cats, I successfully avoided most physical injuries. I’m pretty sure I can blame my mom for holding me back from my true destiny of becoming an Olympic downhill skier or renowned mountain climber. Perhaps I missed my calling, but I kind of don’t think so. While I’ve grown to stretch my comfort zone a little bit more, I’ve also come to accept that I’ll never be a thrill- seeking, adrenaline junkie. I have a strong affinity for my life and limbs and I’m OK with that.
However, there is a more troublesome part of a bubble wrapped existence that has nothing to do with jumping out of planes or scaling mountains —it has to do with the heart. Over time, and after a few disappointments, a big ol’ roll of bubble wrap began to form around my heart and it was made of fear…fear of being hurt, fear of rejection, fear of dreaming too boldly, fear about what people thought of me, fear I wasn’t enough… and the list goes on. Most people, including me, had no idea how fearful I was. That’s because I chose safely. I wouldn’t even sign up to play if I wasn’t sure I’d win.
A bubble wrapped heart avoids risk of injury. It travels well and it doesn’t break. But, then again, it also doesn’t get to do its job—helping to lead you toward your most rewarding and authentic life. A bubble wrapped heart might look a little like this:
It doesn’t allow itself to get hurt.
It tells you that you aren’t good enough for the job.
It says “settle” because you aren’t worthy of more.
It rarely, if ever, says “I love you” or “I’m sorry” first.
It would rather play it cool than risk embarrassment.
People say to follow your heart all of the time. Sounds lovely, right? But, how can your heart be your guide when it’s suffocating under a roll of bubble wrap? It can’t. So, instead, these really bossy guides called fear and insecurity take over. The worst part is that you don’t even notice you’ve been emotionally hijacked by these predators because they feel so safe. You don’t experience a whole lot of embarrassment or rejection because you don’t put yourself out there. You are in control —or at least you think you are.
How do you pursue your dreams and believe in yourself when fear is your guide? You don’t.
Some of the most unhappy people I know are working tirelessly to protect their heart. They are stuck in a cycle of self-doubt about almost every aspect of their lives— literally paralyzed to move forward with relationships, career and other life decisions. On the other hand, some of the happiest people I know have loved and lost, failed in business, experienced rejection and received countless other difficult life lessons. But, still, they are full of life and love and are an inspiration to be around. Their bruises and cracks make them more interesting, more approachable, and, ironically, more resilient.
The purpose of our journey isn’t to get through life without a crack or a ding. If that is your goal, I strongly encourage you to re-think your approach. Sure, stripping yourself of the bubble wrap may cause you to get a few scratches, but I will give you a money-back guarantee (oh wait, this is free advice) that you will also gain more clarity and confidence when you let yourself experience a few dings.
Give your heart a fighting chance to be your guide. It’s the only way to learn what you want out of life, to come into your true calling, and to realize how freaking strong and amazing you really are.
Girl, save the bubble wrap for those dishes that are collecting dust in the cabinet. You are so much stronger than you think.