"What am I going to post on Instagram today?" I caught myself thinking, and then almost stressing about.
When I started to feel that stress and obligation to share simply for the sake of sharing, I reminded myself that the answer to what am I going to share today might be nothing, and that is okay. So what if my name and face isn't in anyone's feeds today?
When I started this blog, I wanted to talk about the hard and uncomfortable pieces of life that it didn't feel like anyone was talking about enough. I wanted to talk about eating disorders. I wanted to talk about mental health. I wanted to talk about the fear, the healing, the uncertainty, the growth. I bought this domain name as a promise to myself to own my story. I didn't have a set number of followers in mind. I wasn't thinking about paid posts or collaboration. I just wanted to create and share in a way that felt unapologetic and real—that was my intention.
I have been challenging myself to pay closer attention to my intentions recently, and evaluate what might be driving actions or choices I make that don't have clear intentions. Do I want to be doing this? Do I know why I'm doing this? And if I don't have a clear reason for doing something, then why am I here doing it?
When that last question comes up, the answer is always connected to fear. Fear is not a new subject to this blog or to my life. A lot of what I've shared on this site relates to recognizing, listening to, and embracing our fears. Fear isn't something we can avoid. It's inevitable and it needs to be addressed. Addressing fear, however, is different than acting out of it.
When I have something that feels worth sharing, I share it. My intention when writing aboutimposter syndrome and dispelling eating disorder mythsfor #NEDAWeek are clear. When the intention is there, I don't have to wonder about what to share or why. I already know. So today when I didn't have something that felt worth sharing, why did I feel an obligation to do so anyway? The answer: fear. Fear that if I don't produce enough content, people might think less of me. Fear that if I don't show up in someone's timeline, they'll unfollow or forget about me. Fear that I need to be doing more.
Acting out of fear of the "what ifs" is something I became increasingly aware of healing my relationship with food and movement as well. Was I going to the gym because I wanted to feel good in my body or because I was afraid of what might happen to my body if I don't? Did I make choices around food based on what I enjoyed and wanted, or based out of fear? It was during that process of healing that I promised myself not to start embracing my fears, rather than acting out of them.
Embracing a fear means acknowledging it and moving forward despite it's presence. It means observing the moments that it's present and admitting that we might not be able to control it. It mean not trying to do more or better as a means of beating the fear. Fear can be a great teacher, but it makes for pretty awful fuel. Acting out of fear in my life looks like being impatient or short with someone because I'm nervous or spreading myself too thin because I want to feel in control. It looks like creating rules and boundaries for comfort and then boxing myself into a corner.
Acting despite of fear, however, looks like taking time away from my computer screen to enjoy nature. It looks like sharing a blog post or piece of writing. It looks like naming my needs and advocating for myself. It looks like setting and understanding intentions. Doing out of fear lacks intention. It's messy and it's rushed. Doing despite fear is purposeful and powerful.