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How One Book Gave Me Courage to Face a Situation That Really Scared Me

The more you do the hard things, the easier they get

As I’ve blogged about recently, I had the amazing opportunity to go to Italy and Israel for a ten-day trip with the Museum of the Bible. This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip that I was so blessed to have been a part of.

But the truth is: When I was asked to go, I felt scared and hesitant. Jesse really wanted me to go, even though I tried my best to talk him out of it multiple times!  

Why I Felt Hesitant About Going On the Trip

As you know, I’m an introvert through and through. In order to go on this trip, I was going to have to travel by myself halfway around the world and then spend 10 days in an unfamiliar place with 25 people — almost all whom I didn’t know. 

I knew that I was going to have to spend hours and hours with these people, and that was overwhelming to me as a naturally shy, introverted person. In fact, I had a lot of anxiety and fear going into the trip. 

It was also so hard for me to think of being away from my family for 10 entire days. I’d never been away from them that long and it was really difficult to think of having to be separated from them such a long time period. Plus, my kids were so sad to think of me leaving and being gone. 

I really prayed about the trip, talked with Jesse and a few close friends, and we all felt that I was supposed to go — even though I was scared and it felt so far outside my comfort zone. I asked multiple friends to pray for me that I’d have courage and strength going into the trip and that I could really be confident and not insecure in all of the new situations I’d be in. 

The More You Do the Hard Things, The Easier They Get

The Book That Prepared Me For The Trip

Before I left, I had ordered the book, Presence, by Amy Cuddy. I’m not even sure where I heard about this book, but it was the best thing I could have read on the plane. There was so much in the book that really challenged me.

The thing she said that impacted me to the core was about the “impostor syndrome”. She explained this is a complex we develop when we go into situations where we feel that we are an impostor. Like we’re the only one who doesn’t really belong and if other people found out how scared or unqualified we felt, they would find out we were just an impostor.

This really hit me hard, because I had felt exactly like that going into the trip. You see, a few days before we left, we were given the bios of all of the people who would be on the trip. The group was made up of some amazing individuals who had done incredible things with their life. They had huge followings, had won major awards, they were well-known, well-qualified, and well-experienced.

When I compared myself to the others who were there, I felt like I didn’t belong. But I realized that I probably wasn’t the only one who felt like this going into the trip (and I found out through conversations with some who were there that that was indeed the case!).

The More You Do the Hard Things, The Easier They Get

Instead of allowing myself to feel like an impostor and to feel like I was out of my league and didn’t below, I was inspired by Presence to tell myself the following:

1. “I Belong Here” 

Every time I would start to tell myself how out of place I was among the group, I would make myself say, “I belong here.” Not in an arrogant way, but as a reminder that I was asked to come on this trip and that, as such, I was not an impostor.

I might have less life experience or fewer connections, but I had something to offer and bring to the table. So I would hold my head up high, remember that God had allowed this opportunity for me, and remind myself that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. 

2. “I Want to Learn All I Can From Others”

In Presence, Amy talks about being fully present and bringing your boldest, bravest self. Being fully present for me was sitting there and soaking up the wisdom from these other people. I really listened to what they had to say, instead of formulating a plan of how I was going to respond in a way that might impress or validate myself.

At every meal, I would sit with different people and asked them to tell me about themselves. I would ask follow up questions to keep the conversations focused on learning from the other people. And I learned so much and loved getting to hear the stories and experiences of those who were there!

3. “I Will Embrace Each Day Fully”

In addition to meeting new people, I had many other challenges to push through. One of the biggest surprises I had about the week was how we hit the ground running almost everyday somewhere around 7 a.m. and didn’t get back to our rooms until around 10 p.m. or so.

The amount of physical exertion required was more than I anticipated. We did a lot of walking. There were also a lot of climate and weather changes. Sometimes it was cold. Sometimes it was hot. Sometimes it was windy. Sometimes it would rain. 

But instead of being frustrated or overcome by these challenges, I decided to embrace each day with a good attitude. To learn all I could. To fully show up. And to just savor the opportunity with a good attitude. It made a world of difference for me!

I want to challenge you that when you feel like running from the hard things, embrace them instead. Push past those feelings that come with the impostor syndrome. Don’t allow yourself to believe lies that you don’t belong or are inadequate.

Focus on others. Learn their stories. Listen to their hearts. Ask good questions.

And most importantly, embrace each opportunity, each day, each difficulty with a good attitude — looking for the good, the beautiful, the funny, and the adventure. It’s there and when you look for it, you’re much more apt to find it and enjoy it!

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  • Stacy says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Crystal. I love seeing how you worked through the fear and came out stronger on the other side. Your trip looks amazing, by the way!

    I am definitely suffering a little with the imposter syndrome. It’s a tricky one deal with. I like how you mentioned that saying, “I Belong Here” does not mean you are arrogant. I think that is always my fear. Just because we belong somewhere doesn’t mean we know more than anyone or are better than anyone. For some reason I’m afraid of people thinking I think that way! So part of it may be letting go of what others think of us too?

    Thanks for sharing your struggle. I’m always inspired by your courage!

  • muriel says:

    Very inspiring. Amy Cuddy also has a TED talk on body language that is good.

  • Kara Mayfield says:

    My dad came upon this book in January after hearing her Tedd talk. It gives much of the same information. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but he’s been raving about it! I will add it to my list. Such an important reminder for us all! It doesn’t matter what a person’s position is we all tend to feel like we don’t belong sometimes.

  • Jill says:

    I always feel like an imposter. I appreciate your transparency and courage to move ahead and take the trip. I am attending an event soon where I won’t know anyone, but I am moving ahead, too! You inspire me! I look forward to reading this book.

  • Sarah C says:

    What a great post. Definitely finding myself feeling that way and being treated in a patronizing way makes it worse lately. I’m a people pleaser at heart. I’m definitely going to read this book and try to say to myself, “I belong here.” Thanks for sharing.

  • Lorelei says:

    “I Want to Learn All I Can From Others”

    So, I think this tip is going to change my life. No kidding! What a succinct, powerful way to take the focus off myself, and allow myself to focus on others.

  • Kristine says:

    That is so fantastic that you had the opportunity to visit Italy and Israel. What a gift. I can relate to the ‘not feeling like you belong’ and impostor syndrome.That was my whole life, impostor syndrome. Trying to be what I thought other people thought I should be. Then the alcohol kicked in at 18 , that made it so much worse. My life was a complete living nightmare. Finally, almost two years ago I was able to stop drinking and haven’t since, but still feel like I don’t fit in anywhere. I’m hoping that will change when I take my trip of a lifetime. Coming this June 9th, two years from when I stopped drinking, I’m leaving RI to walk to the Florida Keys. Yes, walk. I just know this is going to be good. Sounds so cliche but I hope to “find myself” and where I’m supposed to go from here.
    I’m sorry I dragged on but just one more thing, I think you are awesome! I have your books my fave being Money Making Mom. You are such an inspiration and have been super helpful to me. Thank you!
    Kristine 🙂

  • Krista says:

    This sounds like an amazing book! I completely relate to the feeling like an imposter, this sounds like a book I’ll benefit from as much as you did! Definitely going on my to read list!

  • Stephanie S says:

    I just started a new job this week after having been at my last one for over 9 years. I feel so out of place and I know it will take time to figure out the work and my place. I love the ideas you’ve shared from this book and I’ll be buying it!

  • Shelli Mader says:

    I am so surprised you felt like an imposter – you have accomplished so much in your life! More than most women do. 🙂 I hope to accomplish even a quarter of what you have 🙂

  • Beth says:

    Good stuff! Many doctors and other similar professionals struggle with this too–just waiting to be found out that they’re not “good” enough or “smart enough” to be a doctor. What is it about that little voice that is so believable?

    Gotta chase down those lies and stamp them out!

  • Alicia says:

    I love this perspective. I will be checking out this book. Thank you for the inspiration and recommendation!

  • Diana says:

    Loved this post! I look forwarding to reading her book! Thank you for sharing from your heart and being “real”. You are brave and inspire all of us 🙂

  • Terri says:

    Very inspiring post. Thanks!

  • Joanna says:

    Thank you for sharing this, Crystal. My husband is pursuing a Ph.D. in archaeology and has been on excavations in Israel, Jordan, and Italy over the last ten years. Last year I got to go with him on his excavation (finally!) and your travel posts have really taken me back to the wonderful experience I had.

    I do wish I’d read about feeling like an imposter before going. The group of professors, students, and volunteers who participated in the excavation were the most interesting people I’d ever met, but it was hard when everyone was telling stories about places they’d lived and languages they spoke and experiences they’d had. And then there was me: I speak English, live in the US, and stay home with four kids. :/

    I realize now that I was taking not just one person’s life and comparing it to mine, but accumulating the sum of the accomplishments and diversity of the entire group and holding myself up in comparison to ALL of it. Plus the overwhelming experience of seeing thousands of years of history before me each day, I often felt very small. So thank you for this insight! It’s helpful for any time of life.

  • Jeanine says:

    I know this is an old post, but I wanted to comment that what you said in #2 about asking people to tell you about themselves is exactly how I survive large gatherings of people I don’t know as an introvert. When you feel like you don’t want to talk to people and it’s going to be draining, just ask them about themselves. People love to talk about themselves and they love a good listener. It is much less draining to listen than it is to talk, and you get to know someone better, which automatically will make an introvert feel more comfortable. (For you extroverts, introverts feel much more comfortable having intimate conversations with people they know.) Great post, I’ll have to try to find this book in the new year!

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