A Story about Trying Something New

A Story about Trying Something New
Or alternately titled, Stepping into the Arena

Once upon a time I stood up in front of people and made a fool out of myself.

I’m not sure how else to put it.

I acted (badly) in plays, I sang some especially mediocre ‘specials’ with my sister in church. I performed about one thousand skits, many of which were not even a little bit funny. I did an entire season of Improv Duets with a partner that turned every single sketch into a rap session.

Right now I want to die that you even know that.

But there’s more. I once participated in a month long series of group mimes, most of which I never understood, all directed by a man who was certifiably insane.

Dear Lord, save me.

Then I came to my senses.

I gained a little something I like to call discretion.

At some point in my twenties, I discovered and pounced upon this proverb.

Even a fool is thought wise if he holds his tongue.

Wisdom has always been attractive to me, so if quiet = wise, or even the appearance of being wise, well, that seemed like a no-brainer to me.

Embracing the fact that God created me as an introvert has been one of the greatest gifts of becoming an adult. In great contrast to my adolescent attempts to command the attention of a room, it is now a rare occasion that I am the one talking when there are more than ten people gathered, and for the most part that has been a good thing. I would even say that it has been a gift.

Blogging has allowed me to use my long kept habit of journaling to meter my words out into the world in a way that I am way more comfortable with than public speaking, and that has also been a gift.

But something happened in the taming of the ridiculous performer I once was. In exchange for the quiet (and wisdom) that I so cherish, I lost the ability to be willing to be thought a fool. To laugh at myself. And more specifically, to take risks that involve being in front of people.

A few years ago, I started to do a little bit of yoga teacher training and I was caught off guard by how I had lost the ability to speak in front of people. I had been quiet for so long that it was like I had to re-train myself to hear my own voice.

It was super uncomfortable, like middle school speech class all over again.

I had to find that girl who didn’t mind riding an exercise bike in front of an audience as part of a comedy sketch. Where was she? I needed her. Or a more Zen form of her.

One of things Anne Lamott says about growth is this,

Put something on your calendar that you’re scared to do.

I love that. Just schedule it. Write it down in pen on your calendar and then you have to do it, right?

I’ve tried a few new things this year. A long walk in May. And another longer one coming up in September. Then there was that whole move to another country.

But also, I’m speaking in front of people again.

I’m going to lead some workshops this summer, at BlogStock next week and then again in September for Arkansas Women Bloggers. They will be touchy-feely Finding Your Bliss type workshops. So yeah, that should be fun.

I’m also going to speak about StoryLiving in Arkansas in September. What even is that? I hear you asking. Well, I’m not exactly sure yet, but I am going to find out. Because I am committed. I’m flying home to Arkansas courtesy of a wonderful sponsor, to talk about it. And to see old friends and meet new ones in a conference full of my favorite kind of people, Southern Women.

So there it is. I’m committed to something new. It’s on the calendar. And I’m pretty sure I’m going to make a fool of myself all over again.

As I get ready for my first season of leading workshops and I don’t feel quite ready, I’m reminded of something wonderful I heard Brene Brown say,

It is tempting to stand outside the arena your whole life and think I am going to go in there when I’m bullet-proof and perfect and kick some ass.

But then we’ll never go in and even if we did get to that point and go in, bullet proof and perfect is not want the audience wants or needs anyway.

Cheers to not being perfect, but showing up anyway!

PS The ridiculous photo of me doing story time at a church VBS was taken by Sarabeth Jones, and miraculously, we are still friends.


  1. I love this! I know you will do so well with your speaking! I have a horrible fear of speaking in front of people, always have! Good for you for overcoming this.

  2. You inspire me with every message! THANK YOU.

  3. There are no words to describe how reading your blog nurtures me on a regular basis. And I was only 4 paragraphs in to today’s post when I decided I needed to tell you that.

    And then as I read further, I realized that this is the perfect post for me to read on this particular morning. I’ve been asked to speak at church this morning for the first time (other than simply being the scripture reader). Praise God my time slot is only 2 minutes! 🙂 (But I have to do it twice!)

    I’ve prayed for a while now for God to give me opportunities to grow my public-speaking skills because the thought terrifies me (a fellow introvert) and I knew it would help me grow. So thank you for stepping outside YOUR comfort zone and telling us things that are uncomfortable to reveal. I love you for that!

    Also, I’m excited to be going to my first Arkansas Women Bloggers conference this fall – I signed up months ago, before I even knew you would be there! I so look forward to seeing you and hearing what you have to say. Now I’ll begin praying for your season of workshops and speaking. God is already using you mightily. Thanks, friend.

    1. You will do great because you are so approachable and open, and therefore people everywhere are drawn to you. Also, you come across as accepting and human, not authoritative and out of reach. You have a lot to offer I have no doubt.

  4. I love this photo of you Alison!

  5. I’m looking forward to meeting you at AWBU! I love your blog.

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