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The trust fall of reinvention
#6 Where I learn to catch myself
Reinvention Road is like the Nürburgring, one of the world’s longest and most treacherous racetracks. I write these postcards to chronicle my midlife reinvention that began a year before I quit my job. But this race started a long time ago and continues today.
I launched my first writing group this morning.
After two weeks of social media adverts, I had a few bites, but only one registration: a man who asked if typewriters would be available. He canceled after I said no.
I write this from the town library’s community room, a former bank lobby with twenty-foot ceilings, enormous paned windows, polished oak molding, and an empty vault. I’m sitting with four empty chairs at a folding table next to a stack of photocopied materials and a blank sign-in sheet.
All right. Stop “aww-ing” me. It’s fine. I’m fine.
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Failure fuels success
Not long ago, I would have canceled the remaining sessions in the series—any excuse to avoid putting myself “out there,” too close to the edge for comfort.
I should have known better. This was a bad idea. I would have berated myself while stocking up on Tate’s chocolate chip cookies and Cabot cheddar cheese (extra-sharp) at the village store.
Instead, I’m going to fill up on failure.
“It’s like there are two versions of you,” Diane, the life wizard, told me nearly six years ago. “One is all action and accomplishment, and the other one is scared and overthinking.”
She’d nailed it. Fear and mistrust—the terrible twins to blame for every opportunity I’ve ever failed to grasp. As I grow older, I am less afraid of failing or of what anyone thinks. Mistrust, however, has been harder to overcome.—especially when it comes to trusting myself.
How can I trust my thinking, considering my poor choices at work, in life, and in love? My heart is even less trustworthy, having allowed itself to be exposed and broken so many times. And, as for trusting my body? I still haven’t forgiven it for menopause or a wonky shoulder.
I used to think I would never reach my goals if I couldn’t learn to trust myself. But it’s not an if/then equation (or whatever those are called. I was an English major, okay?).
A trust fall is when a person falls backward into a group trusted with catching them. It was once popular as corporate team-building until probably someone got concussed because everyone in the catching group assumed the catching part was somebody else’s job.
It’s a cold and rainy Monday—this and a hundred other reasons kept people away from a new writing group. But even though I was nervous, no one would show up—or worse, overflow the room—I am here.
The key to reaching your goals, is acknowledging the doubt and falling anyway.
I showed up to catch myself today, and I’ll do it again.
What I wish I’d known
I wish I’d known I could decouple fear and doubt and that I didn’t have to let either feeling crowd out my ambition.
We all have fear—bravery is impossible without it. I like howreframes bravery in her post on The Long Middle, “a newsletter about navigating the long, rough middle of a life.”
Perhaps we’re all brave, all the time, just in the living….We get up, we go out, we do stuff. Or not! We stay in and make lists of the things we would do if we were brave. But the list is brave! The hope is brave! It’s brave to live here, knowing what we know.
Be brave enough to keep going.
Imagine you are part of a group entrusted with catching someone. Imagine when you look up, you see a version of yourself falling toward you—a past or future version of you that has left solid ground and trusts you will be there with open arms.
Begin with these words, ‘I will catch you.”
Take a deep breath and write.