NOTE: This post was originally published on my previous blog, Recovering Shopaholic.
As I’ve touched upon in previous posts, I often worry too much about what other people think of me. My desire to “look good” and be acceptable in other’s eyes has been a big driver of my compulsive shopping behavior (see “Shopping for Acceptance”). Although my concern about other’s opinions has wreaked havoc on my “bottom line,” that’s far from the worst of its effects. In today’s post, I share the impact of my deep-seated fear of how others view me, how it’s caused problems in my life, and some steps I’m taking to turn things around.
“So, What Do You Do?”
I can’t tell you how much I’ve dreaded that question over the past ten years. You see, I left my corporate high-tech job in 2003 to pursue a career in the relatively new field of life coaching. While I was somewhat apprehensive to make the leap, I was also propelled by my desire to do work that was in line with my values and could make a profound difference in the world. At the time, I truly believed I could make it work. It didn’t…
Fast forward ten years to 2013. Since I left my high-tech job, I’ve not only had a life coaching business that didn’t quite pan out. I’ve also co-authored a book that wasn’t published, written two other blogs that didn’t reach a wide audience, and started two other businesses that weren’t successful. While I never intended my book or blogs to be “bread and butter” endeavors, I did hope my businesses would be at least somewhat lucrative. They weren’t…
I’ve written about my most recent business, wardrobe consulting, a few times on this blog. Back in July, I shared that I was at a crossroads in terms of whether or not to continue in that industry. I’ve since decided my best option is to close the doors on this business and move on. To what, I’m not exactly sure, but I know wardrobe consulting isn’t “it” for me.
Inauthenticity Thy Name is Debbie…
I actually knew in my gut months ago that I didn’t want to continue being a wardrobe consultant. I’d stopped trying to pursue new clients and hadn’t updated my business website or written any new blog posts there in a long time. However, I kept the site up and left “personal wardrobe consultant” as my job on all of my social media accounts for one big reason. I worried what people would think of me if I quit yet another business. I feared they would think I was a flake, a dabbler, a quitter, or worst of all, a loser.
My fear paralyzed me. I didn’t want to see or talk to people I knew or meet new people because I’d either have to tell the truth about my career situation or lie. So I kept to myself and avoided conversations that could potentially drift to inquiries about my business. When I did talk to other people, I did my best to keep them talking about themselves so I wouldn’t have to talk about me.
While I didn’t actually lie to anyone, I am guilty of lies of omission. I allowed people to continue to believe I was Debbie Roes, Wardrobe Consultant. After all, my shiny professional website was still up, complete with my beautiful and polished logo. By all appearances, I was a successful business owner, yet I knew that wasn’t true, not by a long-shot.
What My Fear Cost Me
I’ve frequently lamented my lack of closeness with other people and admitted to feelings of loneliness. Yet I didn’t realize that I was the one keeping everyone at arm’s length. My desire to “look good” and avoid criticism and judgment from others kept me perpetuating a farce.
The ruse I was maintaining not only led me to feel distant from people in my life, it also affected my health. I’ve often had trouble sleeping due to my excessive worries about what’s next in my professional life and how to tell people I’m abandoning my wardrobe consulting business. I’m also convinced that at least some of my digestive distress and migraine headaches have their roots in fear and worry. I’ve definitely been paying a big price in order to appear like I have it all together.
Making a Different Choice
This past weekend, I decided I’d had enough of the charade. I swallowed my fear and spent the past few days taking the necessary steps to put my wardrobe consulting business behind me. I shut down my business Facebook page and Twitter account (the accounts for this blog remain active!), updated my LinkedIn profile, and modified my website to remove all references to wardrobe consulting. While I retained certain key advice articles, I removed all of the client success stories and other business-specific posts.
I then wrote a post for the home page outlining my decision to “turn the page” and how I came to make it. I also wrote about and linked to this blog for the first time! I put the finishing touches on my interim website last night and switched everything over. Although the trepidation was still there, I felt empowered to be taking action instead of remaining paralyzed by my fear.
If you’d like to check out my interim website and read my “Turn the Page” article, click HERE. In the coming days and weeks, I’ll revise the site further, adding more content and filling in the gaps as I become clearer on the direction I wish to take. I’ll add lots of articles I’ve written in the past on various personal development topics and I’ll write new articles as I’m inspired to do so.
Telling the Truth Bit By Bit…
While I haven’t exactly sent out a press release announcing the demise of my wardrobe consulting business, I’m no longer hiding the truth. I shared the news with a few people today in response to their emails on other topics. I could have easily kept it to myself, but I’m ready to be open and honest and risk others looking down on me. Admittedly, some people will be harder to tell than others. In particular, I worry about telling most of my family members, as they are aware of my whole sordid professional history.
In “Friends, Shopping, and Telling the Truth,” I confessed my desire to be the “Debbie of Recovering Shopaholic” in my everyday life. I’m now ready to take that step, as I’m no longer willing to pay the price for maintaining such a costly ruse. The burden has become too heavy and I’d rather have others look down on me than continue regarding myself in a negative light.
I’m ready to take steps toward freedom and start being my authentic self with all people in all situations. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m ready to live a fuller life. Perhaps in my authentic life, I won’t need to shop so much and have such an overloaded closet. Maybe when I really “get” that I’m enough, I won’t need to buy so much. That’s my wish for all of us!