I refer to Scary Mary as the one that shows up when you are about to do something that is out of your comfort zone.
Sometimes she even brings her mates!
Scary Mary will often show herself when you are taking a step into the unknown or doing something that is a leap towards a goal that is for the greater good.
Often we play safe and keep on doing things the way we know. We will continue on our journey in a way that is comfortable. If we keep doing the things we are good at, then we don’t get found out by Scary Mary.
Conversely, this is generally the time when playing safe is a luxury we can ill afford.
Quite often we can find ourselves plunged into change that we hadn’t planned for. And never one to miss an opportunity for a holiday, this will be when Scary Mary turns up with her suitcase. She will bang on for hours and hours about ‘pitfalls’ and ‘shoulds’ until we want to jump into her suitcase and hide.
What can be really confusing though is when we really do want to make a leap. And then out of nowhere, we are suddenly overwhelmed with ‘what-ifs’. I can only assume that ‘what if’ is a distant relative of Scary Mary that shows up when she is busy.
It is generally the case that the thing that terrifies us the most is the thing that ultimately pushes us on to something better.
I say this with confidence as I know that this is certainly the case for me.
The phone call we don’t want to make, the meeting we don’t want to go to or the event that we are about to attend – the one that scares the hell out of us. I’m sure you can think of more examples.
A fear of failing, looking daft, supposing this happens, supposing no one is interested, I really shouldn’t be doing this, this is absurd and so it goes on.
A fear of failure and success in equal measure.
At times like this and when we feel this way, it is very hard to imagine what might happen if we just allow ourselves to show up.
That we might actually get the gig or stumble upon a true gem.
I always work on the logic whenever I am about to do something ‘scary’ that whatever happens there will always be at least one benefit to having just ‘shown up’.
I used to be incredibly shy and a roomful of strangers would send me in to a tail spin. And although I do still have a quiver in large groups (small groups are my preferred arrangement), I’ve got it covered now and will always truck up to events, often by myself.
I’m sure even the most confident of people have to give themselves a pep talk in the toilet sometimes. I comfort myself with this fact.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m also a realist and there are times when the best advice would have been to stay home and wash my hair but these times are generally the exception rather than the rule.
One of the biggest examples for me of ‘showing up’ was being dragged along to a business networking event by a dear friend many years ago.
To say that I was terrified is an understatement. It was one of those events where I was scared to shake hands with anyone for fear of sweaty palm syndrome whilst at the same time praying that no one would ask me about myself. I stayed terrified during the whole event despite having a great time.
And I went again and again.
That event was probably one of my defining moments. I met people that day who I consider to be among my closest friends now and I have to say that the people and business owners I have met, and continue to meet through networking, have taught me more than I have ever learned anywhere else.
Equally, there is generally always humour around at times of a wobble. This means you get to sit in the loo having a pep talk with yourself while giggling at the same time. It is when we are trying to act normal that we find ourselves doing or saying the most random of things.
If you happen to find someone that also finds it funny, you’ve probably got yourself a friend for life.
I once went to an interview which involved climbing lots of narrow stairs. So narrow that I had to walk sideways. A bit like a crab. Naturally, I wore my ‘bestest’ high heels. Just as naturally one came off and bonk, bonk, bonked down the stairs in slow motion past the interviewer. This meant that I very unnaturally had to hop down the stairs in my suit to reclaim the shoe at the bottom of the stairs while trying to make a ‘normal’ conversation about it. That was interesting. I drew the line at making a Cinderella crack.
Sometimes you just know that you aren’t the person specified.
No amount of over-planning could have prevented that one. There is always an element of fate in our day.
And I think sometimes it’s the over-planning that is part of the problem.
Because shoes will always be shoes and they are unpredictable.
Scary Mary is also unpredictable.
She comes and she goes. She will rarely share any wisdom or advice. She will be clean out of ideas and she will certainly never warn you against wearing stilettos.
And no matter how fearful I may be, I will always show up.
As the great saying goes, if you keep doing what you’re doing, you keep getting what you’re getting.
It is so easy to think of reasons why not but it is generally only the reasons why that are worth pursuing.
I know that I am not alone in this.
These are the types of conversations that people have with each other all the time.
In fact, my daughter expressed concern recently about attending an event. I shared with her the fact that it is quite usual to be a little bit nervy when we are going somewhere new or with people we don’t know. That grown ups feel like that sometimes too.
And I would be a bad mother if I didn’t warn her off the stilettos wouldn’t I!
So that’s me. How about you?
Do you glide into new situations naturally and with ease or do you skid in with your shoes glued on and a comforter in your bag?
PS No offence if your name is Mary by the way!