“I'm sorry I bailed on you,” the neatly folded note began.
It was 2013. I am at a retreat, and this was the note I received from a fellow participant; a lovely woman in her early 30's with whom I had made Friday night dinner plans.
I had waited for an hour in the lobby, my black jeans tucked into my chunk heeled, cream-colored leather ankle booties. I wasn't in a hurry; I'm never in a hurry. I just assumed she was doing a little last-minute armpit shave, or, you know, wearing red lipstick. Because, red lipstick. It's never quick, nor easy, and Gwen Stefani can piss off.
Yet, after an hour or so had passed, I started thinking to myself what everybody thinks to themselves:
Did I screw up the time?
She'll be here any minute.
If I leave now, I'll miss her.
*scrolls through Facebook feed*
What if I leave and she thinks *I’m* the no show?
Maybe something horrible happened.
Maybe she's being held hostage by a masked murderer at gunpoint.
(At a women's wellness retreat. Because isn't that where YOU would go if you were a masked murderer?
*googles “masked murderer wellness retreat”*
She must have forgotten.
Ugh, I hate when I forget stuff.
Wish I had her phone number.
*glances around while trying not to seem overly eager*
Needless to say, I was waiting there for a while.
When I finally thought to check the mail room—just in case the masked murderer was polite enough to leave a ransom note in my mailbox—my heart broke into teeny tiny little porcelain pieces as I read what she wrote.
“I really wanted to go to dinner with you. I got ready and put my makeup on, and even wore my favorite sweater. But the closer it got, the more nervous I got. The truth is that I kept thinking that you would be bored in a conversation with me. You're just so confident; so cool. I didn't want to make you suffer, having to talk to a person like me all night.”
The next day, my new friend was gone. I never saw her again. Never got the chance to tell her that she was wrong.
I hated she that she suffered.
I hated I made someone feel that way.
And most of all, I hated that someone felt that way about themselves.
Oftentimes, I think of my friend any time I'm scared, or nervous, or lacking confidence. And then I think to myself:
Am I going to write the world a note? Or am I going to do the damn thing?
And time and time again, in honor of my friend and myself, I elect not to write the world a note.
Because maybe by doing so I'll escape a potentially fatal, entirely awkward, terrifying situation. But most often, I suspect I'll find myself in a new one in its place: One where you can't trust yourself anymore.
As I've grown as an entrepreneur, a business owner, a human, a friend, and sassy-lipped flying saucer, make no mistake…I've made a lot of mistakes.
But the only way I've been able to recover from those mistakes, has nothing to do with having money, or having influence, or having friends, or knowing the right people…and everything to do with trust.
Trust that you’ll be okay…no matter what.
Trust that you’ll make it happen.
Trust that you’ll figure it out.
But the trust doesn’t just come; you can’t just sit here and say, “I’m going to trust myself more!” Doesn’t work like that.
The only way you can stumble upon conviction in yourself—
Is by not stumbling upon it…but putting yourself in situations requiring it.
By making promises to yourself that you’re going to do something…and then doing it. Come hell or high water.
Promise yourself you’re going to write every morning from 6am-7am? Let NOTHING stop you.
Say you’re finally going to start that new website? Let NOTHING stop you.
Tell yourself you’re going to find the perfect little French chalet to go on a quiet little relaxation weekend all for yourself? Do it…and let NOTHING stop you.
Even when you don't want to. Even when you're scared to death. Even when you aren't so sure anymore. And let nothing stop you.
This is how you learn to trust yourself. Little by little, promise by promise, vow by vow, action by action.
And soon, you won't want to write a note to the world.
Because you'll know that the real person you're bailing on…