Lose Your Security Blanket (with Confidence)
I was never the kid that carried a teddy bear or blanket around for comfort. My parents said they didn’t let my siblings or me use a pacifier for very long, either. Maybe it was my nature, or how I was nurtured, but I’ve become accustomed to doing things on my own. Still, there are plenty of times when getting my metaphorical security blanket taken away can cause a lot of anxiety, even when I know I can accomplish something without it. Most recently that happened when my friend sustained a running injury the week before we were planning to complete a marathon together (my first), and found out that she would be totally unable to run with me.
We live across Lake Michigan from each other, so it’s not like we’ve been training together. I did a twenty-mile training run alone and it went just fine, and I’ve followed my training plan well, but in my head for the last several months I’ve been thinking that we were going to run together. Oh, my pace will be better because I’ll be with Julia. It will not be boring because I’ll talk to Julia. If I need to be carried, Julia will pick me up (I have a lot of confidence in her abilities, clearly). When faced with the new scenario, and wanting to be a supportive friend for Julia, I knew I had to suck it up and go without my security blanket in tow.
For situations like this and any other, here are four things you can do to cope while striking out on your own.
- Accept it. At first, I posted a message in one of my running groups to see if anyone would want to run the race with me. Then I realized how silly that was. I needed to accept that I was going to run a marathon by myself, and that’s how most people run races, so it really isn’t a big deal. I wouldn’t want someone to give up on their own commitment, or face further injury, etc., just to comfort me. I’m an adult!
- Make a plan. Okay, so you’re jumping in. What is your plan of attack? Whether it’s a new job without your well-known colleagues by your side, or something like a new school, how are you going to deal? Make a checklist if you want, or brainstorm ideas for how you can feel more confident. For me, it means I need to load my phone with music because I won’t be talking to anyone. Five hours is a long time to hang out by myself.
- Get ready. I always prepare for races by watching inspirational movies a few days before. For my first half marathon, that meant eating pasta and watching Karate Kid. This time I opted for pasta (a carbo-loading staple) and Forrest Gump, and I’ll watch Rocky tonight while I go over the racecourse and make sure I know what to expect. Just reviewing what I need to do and borrowing some inspiration makes me feel ready, and you can do this for any situation. Go over your route to the new job, memorize the mission statement, and view LinkedIn pages for your new colleagues. Trust me, you’ll be fine!
- Just do it. You’ve got two options: do it, or give up and wander into the woods never to be seen again. I’ll tell you right now, giving up is not an option. Even if it makes you so nervous that you think you’re going to be sick, you have to do it. Even when I don’t think I can do something, and I worry, and I want to give up so bad, I just trick myself and pretend like I believe I can do it. The result is still the same in that I accomplish what I set out to do. It’s called “Fake it ’til you make it” and it works!
It’s scary to set off on your own and not have anyone or anything to fall back on, but part of developing as a person is learning how to deal with difficult situations. Plus, after you’ve tackled a few big things alone, you’ll have more confidence in the future and be able to handle anything that comes your way.
As Forrest would say, Life is like a box of chocolates– you never know what you’re gonna get.