Recently, at the farmer’s market, I felt anxious: As I talked with my favorite farmer while he weighed my produce, I noticed a line forming behind me, people whose body language indicated “hurry up.” Within moments, I was absent from the lively conversation. I was in exit mode, and then I felt crabby. Upon reflection, I assumed this response came from my role as peacemaker: wanting everyone to be happy. But digging deeper, I realize my reaction came from a place of fear: not wanting to be wrong or make a mistake—not wanting attention in a negative way.
This is a long-held fear: making mistakes; being openly imperfect. I try to divulge truths of imperfection, but underneath there’s a nagging feeling of “not enough,” and then I judge myself for fearing failure as I simultaneously encourage others to be real and genuine. This is a vicious cycle, because we need to be real with each other. I feel most safe when surrounded by people who allow for mistakes; who accept me as is, even as they see where I can grow. People who tell me hard truths when needed, but don’t make a big deal about the small stuff. This is what I try to create for everyone I encounter.
And still: I fear failure. Not even in epic ways, but in everyday ways. So, the safe space that needs nurturing is within myself: allowing—perhaps encouraging—mistakes, so I can learn, grow, and heal. Being real with myself from a place of love and compassion.