By: Dr. Erica Wollerman
Until last Wednesday (4/8/15) I had not heard about the recent very alarming trend of fans of One Direction cutting themselves in response to Zayn’s departure from the group. I was shocked to hear this and even more shocked to hear this on my voicemail from a local ABC news reporter asking for me to comment as a child psychologist… My initial reaction was actually something along the lines of being terrified. Terrified that I would let my fear get in the way of an amazing opportunity to have my voice heard in the field. Terrified that my voice was not quite good enough to be heard at all. Terrified that I would say yes but terrified that I would say no. What a mix of emotions!
When I decided to launch my solo private practice at the end of 2014, I told myself that I would do things that were scary and just “lean in” to them. While I am a very social person now, I was very shy as a child and I still tend to shy away from new things and avoid situations that cause me discomfort… Like talking to new people, posting blogs, putting my thoughts and opinions out there for people to possibly critique, public speaking is certainly on the list! I’ve been following the mantra of “just say yes” for the past few months, which is certainly working well in making some amazing new personal and professional connections and growing my business. Though other events and situations have challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone, this is the first time that I feel that I have been really put to the test. Sitting there on Wednesday, I was so tempted to just ignore the call, call the reporter back the next day (which would likely to be too late), or to make up a million excuses as to why I just CAN’T possibly be the person he was looking for. Oh, did I mention, I tend to underestimate myself? Despite this flurry of emotion and insecurity, the important part that I want to share is that I was able to lean into my discomfort, complete the interview, and was actually quoted in the 11:00 news!
The interesting part of the whole experience is that I was such a mix of emotion: disbelief (me? Are you sure you want me?), excitement and pride (the news!), and continued anxiety and fear that I would somehow be misquoted or look ridiculous. This experience provided me with such a great opportunity not only to face some of my fears (am I good enough? My voice sounds like a child! People will laugh and critique me behind my back!) but to also work through some of my perfectionism. I knew that if I agreed to do the interview I would have ZERO control over the content chosen or how exactly it was put together. That is pretty tough for me as a controlling perfectionist but I felt the outcome was worth the risk. I spent the evening waiting for the news thinking of many things that could go wrong as well as just feeling so proud of myself for my ability to engage in something that was terrifying on so many very deep levels.
When I finally saw the news clip, it was so brief and cut down that it was a slight bit of a letdown but still very exciting! Do I love the quotes taken from my 10-15 minutes of comments, not really. However, I know that my thoughts about it are likely very different from others and am working hard not to critique anything about how it came out but to just focus on my excitement about the experience and building my professional confidence. With that approach and years of working through my insecurities, I am feeling confident and proud as I sit and reflect on this experience. It’s truly amazing to see that when we allow ourselves to flourish and really LEAN into our discomfort, the discomfort can start to fall away and amazing things happen.
My question this week to any of you would be this: how can you lean into something this week? How can you push yourself to say yes to your discomfort?
Thanks for reading! Keep an eye out for my next blog post in this series, which will talk more specifically about the topic of self-injury, partially in the context of this One Direction incident.
Feel free to contact me regarding any issues around counseling for teens in San Diego CA.
If you would like to check out the video or text version of the news story that Erica contributed to, please click here!
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