My Greatest Fear, Updated

When I was younger, we’ll say, my 20s, my greatest fear was being dumb, or to put it more eloquently, to lose my intelligence.

10 years later, at the ripe youth of my 30s, I’ve learned that that is no longer my greatest fear. In fact, I read so much these days, and am constantly referencing what I’ve learned from reading that I’m not that concerned with losing my intelligence, although I do wish, I wouldn’t lose any more of my ability to spell, but you know, I’ll just carry a dictionary around with me forever and ever. The important thing is that I remain curious enough to always keep learning.

No, my updated greatest fear is a combination of three things: to stand out, ask what I want directly, and be successful. 

Isn’t that crazy? Sara, the loud, noisy, “crazy” girl, who doesn’t care most of the time what people think of her, hates to stand out.

But that’s not exactly it. It’s a bit more. It’s that I don’t value myself enough to stand out. What’s more, I act like I don’t mind standing out and like I’ve got my shit together, but I don’t. When it comes to the areas that really matter, I am terrified of owning my true value and it effects EVERYTHING I do- the relationships I get into;  the orders I make and take, and for that matter, the lack of true success that I’ve created in three years (although, there have been some incredibly high moments); the positions I’ve found myself in at various jobs, including my lack of excitement to many of the work responsibilities and positions.

“So, what? We’re all feeling the same way-stuck.”, you may be thinking; “Maybe you’re in a funk?” many of you may be thinking other wise, but the reality is that I know that this is my core problem. I know it every time that impatience fires up in my belly and works it’s way up to my heart and my brain and I realize I’m wasting time. I‘m wasting time wallowing because I’m terrified of kicking up my heels and saying, “hey muthafuckas (pardon my French), I’m Sara Elisa Stroman and I’m going to turn my world and your world upside down!”

Instead, what I’ve allowed myself to do is:

Not price my work at it’s true value, or better yet, allow myself to be talked down on my price. Note-I haven’t done that much this new year, but it took a while for me to learn that lesson and while I don’t undervalue myself as much any more, I do have panic attacks about telling customers price.

Not find truly deep romantic relationships. Whereas there are people that want and NEED to be in relationships, I’ve been the anti-relationship woman. I’m self-sufficient, independent, and a flirt; I can do anything I want. While this is true, I also undervalue what I want and need, and maybe it’s because I haven’t known what I wanted, and I do owe the men, that have made me sad and caused some tears, props for showing me not just my bad cycle, but that I am valuable and am deserving of something more.  Some of these guys have been incredibly nice guys who have taught me what it is that I do want when I do find a relationship. 

Not bringing my seat to the table as an equal at past jobs and therefore not doing work I find rewarding, intelligent, or motivating.  This one has taken quite a bit to learn, but I’ve realized that when I’m discouraged, I don’t have the gumption to keep trying. No, instead, I write things off. I move on and claim that someone or something sucks at those places. Yes, I’m not 100% wrong on that- I have had some horrible managers in the past, but really I’m at fault for not keeping myself motivated enough to stick with it and make my work worthwhile.

Another way for me to explain this is in a more personal fashion. For some time, I’ve wondered how it is that my brothers attract women constantly-they have this raw magnetism and it’s attractive and inspiring and unsettling for me because I believe I’m missing that gene. Anyhow, in addition to my brothers, my father, his father and even my soon-to-be 10 year old nephew all have it and then there’s me, the female Stroman that doesn’t have it. Or maybe does, but has always felt she doesn’t have enough of it to make that umph stick out. And it drives me crazy!

I’m the one that has always struggled with my features (I hated my hair when it turned curly!), my body, my voice (I cringe every time I hear my voice on voicemail or on a video), etc. The list can go on and on and on if I let it, and I don’t. I don’t want any of you to think I hate myself because I don’t-I actually think I’m incredibly pretty, but you know sometimes I wish my hair was still straight, or I could really lose those 20lbs.  While these issues are more hang ups thank anything else,  I believe they have and continue to impact my updated greatest fear.

My father, was this strong, bold man that you just knew not to mess with. He commanded your attention whether you wanted to give it to him or not. While for a moment you might wonder what would happen, you also knew he was going to handle the situation. And the moments I wish he were still here are the moments when I wish I had that presence, where I need to own myself and I think “how would my Dad handle this?, make you pay attention to him whether you want to or not?”  And then I think back to how strong my father was. How even if you felt intimidated, you felt protected. I  want that power more than anything else and the thing is I know it’s lurking inside me. I just need to find it and grow it and feed it.

And yet, in something that might be considered ironic, I project this image that I don’t have these issues and my friends would tell you that I am the most amazing person they know; that the world of Sara is strong, decisive, confident and inspiring and awesome and they love being part of it – and I love them being part of it, too!- but the fact remains that the world of Sara is not always like that. It’s not a lie, because it definitely is a real and magical place, my world, but every day is not sunshine and rainbows.

In fact, there are days where it is a struggle, where I don’t want to get up and be positive and yet, I know that I have to to keep moving. It took a long road to get here, to accept this and I have no problems with the realization. It took having to hear people say over and over, “you’re not the same Sara, are you okay?”

It was three years ago, when that all came crumbling down and I realized I can’t keep projecting something that isn’t true- that I’m always nice and kind- I’m not-and I’ve allowed myself to feel all that I’ve felt and not feel bad about it anymore.  There is a lot of truth behind the confidence I do have as well as the inspiration and awesomeness that I project. I catch is that even though I know that deep down inside, I don’t always believe it.  I don’t always believe it, or see it, or acknowledge it.  What makes it worse is that when I caught up in impatience because this is where I believe impatience knows to attack me-to remind me that I am not doing what I should be doing-where I want to go out and do all of those great and amazing things that’s when I realize it that I don’t trust myself enough to know how. Or better yet, I do know how, I just don’t believe I can go about it correctly.

So yeah, that’s where I am. That’s what I’m doing and that’s all that I’ve been feeling and realizing since the end of last week. Knowing that I have to move away from something I want and as I sit around wondering and crying and feeling a twinge of heartbreak, realizing that in order to find better or do better, I need to be better.

If you’re going through anything like this, I hope you find that fear and face it and make the changes you need to so it doesn’t bully you and stop you from doing great things not just for the world, but for yourself because the only way you’ll do great things for the world is to do great things for yourself.

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s2 stationery & designs

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

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