FEAR OR FUEL: I DECIDE
This is a photo of me this morning — a few hours before I will be presenting on Sharp Scissors: Mental Heath at the Out-of-the-Box luncheon powered by Phorest Salon Software. I got almost no sleep because of the twisted thoughts swimming in the deepest parts of my brain. “Who are you to be talking about mental health, bro — you still crazy?” This is the pain of imposter syndrome — and it’s. a paralyzing monster. Then I remembered a story about vomit.
Instead of leaning into that energy, which would have my words flustered, body sweaty and riddled with anxiety, I thought of Bill Russell, the cornerstone of the Boston Celtics dynasty. If you’ve ever been in his presence, you know he moves like a deity — and you can feel. It is well known that Russell would throw up before big games. The totem of expulsion would galvanize the entire locker room — his teammate John Havlicek once said “It’s a welcome sound, too, because it means he’s keyed up for the game and around the locker room we grin and say, ‘Man, we’re going to be all right tonight’.”
That allowed me to fall asleep. I usually wake up with a song on my mind — and that becomes the soundtrack for my day. This is an involuntary reflect — a little message gets me going, or tells me to stay in bed. Today’s song was “You Can Do It” by the almighty Ice Cube. Humming the chorus while lying in bed, I checked in with myself. My body felt loose, not tense with worry. My mind felt clear, not clouded with doubt. My eyes could visualize standing up in that room and absolutely destroying the presentation — no fumbles or technology issues. Just me. Looking Sexy. Shining. Winning. All I have to do, as Ms Toi says to Ice Cube, is put my back into it.
Will I ever get rid of my imposter syndrome? Nope — it’s as much apart of me as my grey hair and flat feet. However, when confronted with those anxious moments, instead of simply falling into the abyss of my insecurities, I now know I have a choice: feed or fuel. I can either “feed” those negative thoughts and spiral down the rabbit hole of anxiety and depression or I can use that same energy to fuel my thoughts and actions towards a successful outcome. I used to think that choice was not mine alone, but only the providence of my broken mind. Instead, I can decide not to succumb to those thoughts because I am more powerful than my mental illness.
All I have to do is listen to Ice Cube and do it.