By Lisa Manterfield
I was always a pretty confident person, even as a child. I could be quite shy, and still am at times, but I was never fearful. I firmly believed that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to and I wasn’t afraid to try anything. I backpacked around South America, jumped out of airplanes, and tried all kinds of strange foods. If anyone told me it couldn’t be done, I took it as a cue to prove her wrong.
But infertility changed that.
Suddenly, I was more timid about getting out there and going for what I wanted. I became a nervous flyer, popping Rescue Remedy and gripping the seat arms on flights. I even caught myself assessing flight times and potential for disaster when considering a trip. I couldn’t seem to make a decision without asking for opinions from everyone and then second-guessing myself.
After a friend commented on the change, I took a long hard look at what had happened to me, and the thing that popped to the forefront of my mind is infertility.
I hate to pin everything that’s wrong in my life on infertility, but in this case, I think I was right. Infertility taught me that I can’t always get what I want just by trying hard. It taught me that bad things do happen to good people, and they could even happen to me. And it taught me that I am not invincible, and that created a giant fissure in my confidence.
It was very disturbing to realize what had happened, because that wasn’t who I was. I wasn’t a timid mouse. I didn’t want to be afraid of life, but that was who I had become. Maybe you’ve seen similar changes in yourself.
So, how to undo the damage?
Self-awareness was the first step. Once I recognized the change, I made sure to check in with myself whenever I felt my courage waver. It was very helpful to step away from myself and look at what I was really afraid of, instead of just pulling the blankets over my head and giving into it.
I also began looking for the old Lisa in some of the places she used to be most confident. I took up orienteering again, which used to be a sport I was pretty good at. Even though I wasn’t as in shape as I’d once been, the old skills were still there and reawakening them helped my confidence grow again. I tried to recognize fear and treat it accordingly.
Finally I looked for ways to gently push myself out of my comfort zone (and drag poor Mr. Fab out of his, too.) We learned to sail, something we’d never done together before. It was just a small step, but it was definitely an area in which neither of us was an expert, and so we built our confidence together.
Infertility taught me that I am not invincible, but slowly, I found my confidence again. No matter what happened in my past, I don’t want to spend my future afraid of what might, or might not, happen.
For ideas on how to gently step out of your own comfort zone, please check out the interview I did with Kathleen Guthrie Woods last week. Her 52 Nudges might be the perfect way to start finding your confidence again.