I’m proud of Mizha for finally biting the bullet and talking to Zhiro the way she told herself she would. The longer those things rest, the harder they become to share. She’s probably rehearsed this moment a million times, and like all moments we rehearse, they rarely turn out the way we expect. Still, trying is often better than never making the attempt at all.
New things are always scary. We don’t have any baseline to go from. We don’t know if what we try will work, or what kind of results it will yield. Sometimes that uncertainty can be really terrifying, and it’s easier to sit with something uncomfortable than jump into the unknown. After all, the unknown could be catastrophic. At least, it’s easy to be convinced of that, before the attempt is made.
I was talking with my friend Jacques of Not So Super comics about an embarrassing story. (It’s one I’ve told you guys before, but I’ll tell it again here.) When I was 19, I met my comic hero, Carla Speed McNeil, at San Diego Comic Con. I had no idea she was going to be there. When I was face-to-face with her, I forgot how to talk, how to breathe, how to make eye contact. I stood there babbling nonsense and squeaking and trying to remember how my lungs were supposed to work.
Finally my friend elbowed me in the ribs and told me to give her my business card. I handed over my print-at-home bit of cardstock for my webcomic (SoG at that time), and part of me was convinced she’d read it and be wowed and amazed and love it and I’d be “DISCOVERED” and the other part was terrified that she’d be disgusted and hate it, and the logical part was pretty sure she’d never look at it at all and I wasn’t sure I could truly bear any of those possibilities.
I walked away, and about seven yards from the table came out of my fog and said, numbly horrified, “I just made a complete idiot of myself.”
“Yes, you did,” my friend helpfully confirmed.
I was mortified. And I stayed mortified for 11 solid years. Desperately hoping she’d forgotten all about me, but never quite sure.
Jacques said, “That’s a great story! You should share it and tag her about it on Twitter.”
“WHAATT???” I exclaimed. “NO! Then she might REMEMBER me! And then she’ll HATE me. And then she’ll tell ALL OF HER FRIENDS AND INDUSTRY CONTACTS TO HATE ME. I can’t do that. No. Never. Impossible. How would I even phrase it? What could I possibly say that wouldn’t make her despise me even if she DOESN’T remember me?”
“I’d say: ‘I have this random memory of meeting Carla at 19 and making a fool of myself. I wonder if she remembers?'” Jacques replied.
“…oh,” I said. “You make it sound so…harmless.”
“That’s because IT IS.”
So I tried it. And I was scared out of my mind because it was new…but you know what? Carla wrote back and she was pretty dang great. And other people shared their stories of the time THEY had made fools of themselves too. And how the world didn’t end, and people became friends, and it all turned out okay.
11 years of fear, and I can not only put that lingering shame and embarrassment to rest, but also put some positive interactions next to it.
All because a wise friend gave me a push to do something that scared me.
What new or scary things have you tried, and how did they turn out?