Swimsuit Desensitization

This week I confessed to a coworker that the reason I place myself on house arrest every weekend is because I’m a writer (surprise!) not a recluse (well…). With the upcoming release of A5, I’m finding myself peeking out from behind the curtain and talking about it more and more. It’s not something that makes me particularly comfortable; exposing a side that normally stays hidden is hard. Like going swimsuit shopping. It doesn’t matter if I’m super tan and have been working out like Cameron Diaz all summer, five minutes under those heinous dressing-room spotlights and I’m ready to give up that beach vacation.

Due to this yearly battle, my girlfriend and I have developed “swimsuit desensitization,” which involves trying on bikinis every few weeks after they become available in February. It’s torturous in the beginning, but by June, we’re decently confident and ready to purchase.*

This is the plan with my book.

I have been telling people one at a time, trying to desensitize myself to the fact that this book will indeed be released next year and that people (hopefully) will actually be reading it (omg). Some people have been really supportive. Others look at me like I’m absolutely insane. I relate this to swimsuit sessions in which I strut around my 3×3 stall and pose like I’m in Sports Illustrated, and swimsuit sessions in which I rail the dressing room attendant for only carrying children’s sizes.

So, I told this work friend about my writing, and as I did this huge grin spread across her face. She got excited – genuinely excited – and told me all about her art, and how she’s also been trying to market her work and put herself out there. I’d heard her talk about painting – I knew she did it – but I had no idea what a big part in her life it played. When I told her how nervous I am about the book’s release, she shook her head and told me, “Be fearless.” She said it with such conviction, like a command. Like it was that easy. I walked away feeling like it might be. Definitely a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model day.

I’m still thinking about what she said, and also, what she didn’t say. It wasn’t, “don’t be afraid.” It was, “be fearless.” Not the stifling of emotion, but the pushing straight through it. Taking charge. Being bold.

How many opportunities do we miss because of fear? How many chances pass us by because we spend too much time considering potential consequences? I nearly missed out on a great conversation, and a great friendship, just because I was scared of rejection, and vulnerability, and looking like an idiot.

I think I’ll try being fearless for a while.

*This might be an exaggeration. It would probably be more accurate to say that we’ve accepted the reality of the situation – if you don’t have a swimsuit they won’t let you swim.

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