Welcome to our Feature Series, bombshell!
While I’m blissfully away on maternity leave nurturing my bundle of joy, we’ve invited incredible leaders from different fields to speak about what they know best. I hope that the stories shared will inspire action and reflection within you, as they undoubtedly have within me.
Today Alexandra Franzen, a dear friend and past client, is sharing her notes from *almost* canceling a big speaking gig. A very real and oh-so relatable story of self-doubt and the importance storytelling.
Make sure you make her feel right at home with lots of love in the comments.
This is embarrassing for me to say, but I’ll just say it.
One time, I wanted to cancel a big speaking engagement because I thought I was “a little too chubby.” You know, maybe five extra pounds over my “usual” weight. I knew they’d be filming the event and I didn’t feel “ready” to appear on camera.
“Maybe next year… I’ll be ready.”
I caught myself thinking those words. I knew, in that moment, how completely ridiculous I was being. My mind was like a runaway train heading straight into body-shame-hell and I needed to jump off.
Intellectually, I know that I am allowed to step onstage, and that I deserve to be seen, whether I weigh 90 pounds or 900 pounds. It makes no fucking difference.
Intellectually, I know that I am creative, talented, beautiful in all the ways that matter, and that my stories matter, too.
I know all of those things. And also, I am a human being with human emotions, not a steel-plated confidence-machine. Sometimes, my thoughts go a little screwy. Sometimes, my brain whispers, “Have I reminded you lately that… you suck? Just wanted you to know.”
It’s absolutely crazy how our brains can trick us, sneaking in with insidious thoughts at the most inconvenient moments. You know… like the night before you’re supposed to speak in front of four hundred people. Thanks a lot, brain!
Here’s what I’ve learned about myself:
Whenever I’m stepping up to a new challenge, my brain always tries to convince me to wait until “later.” My brain tries to convince me that I’m not “thin / fit / strong enough” yet, that I don’t have “enough time,” or that “next summer would be better.”
No. Next summer would not be better. Next summer will come along with its own set of rationalizations and excuses. The right time is right now.
I’m proud to say that I didn’t cancel that speaking gig. I wanted to, but I didn’t. I talked myself through that bleak, bizarre moment of body-loathing. I put on my favorite outfit. I got onstage and I told my story. The audience thundered into applause. I stepped offstage and I cried with relief. Afterwards, multiple people came up to me to say, “Thank you so much for saying what you said.” Privately, I thought to myself, “And to think… I almost canceled the whole thing. Thank God I didn’t.”
Whatever you’re about to “cancel” or “postpone” (I know there’s something) please don’t. Just don’t. Be brave and charge forward. Who cares if you’ve got a pimple? Who cares if your body doesn’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model? Who cares if your Masters degree isn’t finished yet? Who cares if your website isn’t completely perfect yet?
If there’s a project that you want to complete — a project that’s going to touch people’s hearts, change people’s minds for the better, or help people feel stronger and less alone — then the world needs your project NOW.
Please don’t delete yourself.
Please don’t flake out.
Please don’t cancel.
Not for any reason, and especially not because of how you look, or how you think you’re supposed to look. Don’t let the mean voices inside your head win. Let love win. Let art win.
Finish your project and stop the pattern of canceling on yourself.
Canceling is officially canceled.
Alexandra Franzen is an author and writing coach / consultant. She’s based in Portland, Oregon, where she lives with a chef named Brandon and a fish named RuPaul.
She loves weightlifting, peanut butter, and people who choose to be kind and generous even when nobody is watching. Her lifelong hero is: Mister Rogers. Her personal motto is: “Today is not over yet.”
You can learn more about Alexandra’s current projects at: AlexandraFranzen.com.