What would you do if you were not afraid?
It was the night before BlogHer, and I couldn’t sleep. I was extremely anxious. I suppose you could say I was afraid. My biggest fear? Catching a cab to get from the train station to McCormick Place.
I’m the epitome of a suburban soccer mom minus the soccer. I drive my kids around in my minivan to swimming lessons and dance rehearsals, birthday parties and grocery shopping. It has been over 20 years since I last took the train every morning for my summer job. I had only been in a cab once in my life, when the law firm interns took me, their secretary, out to lunch at the end of the summer.
I have never hailed a cab before in my life.
Of course, those of you often use taxis know what I now know. It is a piece of cake. I followed the TAXI signs to a row of cabs outside of the train station and hopped into the first available cab. It was a small, yellow taxi, and it was very, very clean. Much different from the smelly cab I crammed into many summers ago. Within the first two hours of my BlogHer experience, I had conquered a major fear.
Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and author of Lean In, was one of the keynote speakers at BlogHer. I have read about her book and some of the controversy that surrounds it, but I have not read it myself. Sandberg said this about her book. “Lean in is all about women having a voice…. [It is] about believing in ourselves and reaching toward our ambition.” She challenged all of us to answer the question, “What would we do if we weren’t afraid?”
Sitting at that table in the huge conference room, I had just conquered a huge fear of mine. I recognized a presenter I had heard the day before and instead of going to find another table like my introvert self begged me to do, I sat down.
Leslie Marinelli, the speaker I recognized, was so kind and generous and easily erased all my anxiety of taking the plunge. We had a great conversation!
At the end of the keynote, Sandberg urged us to fill out a paper and answer the question about what we would do if we weren’t afraid. I had no idea what I should write.
I began to think of my friends who were not there. My real life friends, who don’t even read my blog. They are amazing people. What would they do if they weren’t afraid?
One of them has been a stay-at-home mom ever since she was 17. She has never had a paying job, and is afraid to find one. She devours historical fiction and is fascinated with history. Her dream is to be an archeologist. She hasn’t taken one college course, but she is very intelligent and vibrant.
Another friend is self-conscious about her Polish accent. She hesitated to volunteer in her daughter’s classroom because she was afraid the other children wouldn’t understand her. She has offered to take me to Poland to see her beautiful homeland. She is generous and kind, and I would love to learn how to speak Polish from her.
I could go on and tell you about more people I know. What would they do if they were not afraid? What would I do if I weren’t afraid?
This is a question I’m still answering. By pushing myself to do things I’m afraid to do even when it’s as simple as opening the door to a cab, maybe someday I’ll have an answer.