Souky Souky

Choosing Brave

Life, AdviceEllen Dittmar

I wanted to take a minute out of my regularly scheduled pillow updates to tell you a few, dirty, little secrets. Do I have your attention? Good. This is important. Listen up.

Secret 1: Did you know that Souky Souky is not really in the business of selling pillows? I mean…it IS…but that is not its actual purpose.

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The whole reason this business exists is so that I could test a hypothesis. I needed to experience, first hand, what happens when you just try. What happens when you pack up all your excuses (real and imagined), stick them in a box, shove them under the bed and forget about them?

If you have been following my journey over the past few years, you already know that I am pretty much a scared-y cat. I have written at nauseating length about this (Read this, or this or this). The better part of my life had been spent worrying about what others think and being afraid to try new things. At the center of my anxiety was fear. Mostly I feared that if I tried, I might fail. And everyone knows that failing makes you look foolish. Or, at least, that is what I had convinced myself of. This mindset paralyzed me.  

It is funny because I used to almost wear this “fear of failure” like a badge of honor – like somehow I believed that this characteristic made me unique and sort of endearing. News flash. It didn’t. It made me human (and a little bit stupid).

Which bring me to secret #2: Everyone is scared of failing.

Failing is uncomfortable. It can be humiliating. It definitely isn’t fun. So…yeah…it is perfectly normal to have a fear failing. It doesn’t make you special. More importantly, it does not serve you. One thing that I am certain of is that living your life in a “fear of failure” state will, literally, get you nowhere. Live this way and guess where you will be in 5-10 years’ time?  You guessed it. Exactly where you are right now. Only now you will be older [insert: sad trombone].

Depressing? Yeah. It really can be. Believe me, I have been there. I have lived that way. I am CERTAIN I know how that feels. It pains me to think about the many opportunities I have turned down in life just because that thing sat right outside of my comfort zone. So. Many.

And, I want to be really clear about this...by saying that I "turned down opportunities" I don't mean that people were lined up at my door, just begging me to start a pillow business but I kept saying no. No. That is not what I mean. People weren't banging on my door and requesting that I redesign their house. I wasn't being headhunted and pursued by professional designers. What I mean is that I was quick to dismiss the chance to create an opportunity for myself. I could have reached out to someone and asked for advice or help. I could have offered to help someone redesign their living room for free so that I could get some experience. I could have decided to actively pursue something I wanted. But I didn't because I was scared. So I wasn't turning down offers from other people. Rather I was denying myself the opportunity to create opportunity (I know. So meta).

I often find myself wondering where I would be if I had just said “yes” to risky things.

So, no this business is not really about selling pillows. Creating this business is about changing the narrative of my life and saying, “YES!”. Am I still scared of failing? Absolutely. Do I worry that I look like a gigantic fool? Every day. Do I know have any clue what I am doing? Hell no. Not the slightest.

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But guess what? I’m doing it anyway. And here is what I am finding out:

  1. I am still alive. Still standing. I haven't died from public failure yet (and yes! I have already publicly failed...multiple times over).
  2. I am so much happier attempting and striving and trying than I ever was while sitting on the sidelines. Even when I mess up...I walk away knowing that at least I tried. There is a sense of pride that accompanies effort. I will always walk away with that.
  3. Good things happen when you just try. Bad things happen too, of course…trying doesn't completely protect you from harm. But the important point is that by trying....THINGS HAPPEN! Good. Bad. Excellent, even! And guess what? If you do not try, NOTHING HAPPENS!
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Let me tell you one more little secret…and please do not take this the wrong way…but nobody is thinking about you! 

Okay...that might be a slight exaggeration. But 8 out of 10 people are definitely not thinking about you. You could fail. You could succeed. You could dance naked on your rooftop. Most people do not care. This is primarily due to the fact that they are too busy thinking about themselves and what other people think if them.

Of the two people that are, in fact, thinking about you, one definitely thinks you are foolish. This person may even spend a fair bit of time laughing at your imperfection. But here is the thing, if that person was forced to get real honest with themselves it would quickly be revealed that they are a teeny bit sad and a lot bit insecure. If they were happy they wouldn’t spend their life thinking about your pathetic imperfections. They would be far too busy living their wonderful, fulfilled life. Fact.

The other person that is thinking about you is inspired by your courage. They love watching you stretch and leap and grow. They have either been there themselves – vulnerable and exposed – and are cheering you on or they wonder to themselves, "can I leap too?".

Let this person be your guide. Speak to them. Ignore the rest.

Someday, I will tell you the whole story. The one where you get proof that doing something, (ANYTHING!) leads to the best places. For now, please just know that you already have the necessary materials required to take the first step towards getting whatever you want.

You have a choice. Each and every day you can choose to do the things. The little things. The big things. The scary things.

You can choose to be brave.