I went for a run on Saturday night, to clear my head.

On the whole, I’d spent a satisfying day…

  • shipping a thank-you gift to my best friend and virtuoso (ebook + interior) designer Tam
  • drafting the chapter outline and first few pages of my next ebook (!)
  • doing 2 hours, 22 minutes of line edits for “Your Creed Of Care” with Tam, via Skype
  • eating tacos with my husband.

All this should have added up to a sense of accomplishment (except, perhaps, for the tacos.) “Your Creed Of Care” was (is) moving along right on schedule. It looks amazing, thanks to Tammy. It’s 65+ pages of effort and inspiration and storytelling. I’m so excited to share it with you tomorrow.

Yet despite all this, I felt…unprepared. Fearful. Neurotic. So I laced up my sneakers and headed out.

Whenever something big is troubling me, I go for a run. Being in motion helps me process. I went for a run the night after my friend Vincent* had a stroke. I went for a run the day my friend’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. You get the idea.

I didn’t know what was wrong; I just knew it felt good to run. And as I was climbing the stairs to our apartment, I felt the tears start. Why am I crying? I thought. What is going on?

Part of it was that my dear friend Allison was in the hospital, doing chemo and trying to stay alive. It was breaking my heart. Another part of it was about my childhood dance classes…which I haven’t attended in over a decade. When my husband saw my tears, it all came pouring out.

“I hate to think of Allison in pain! I hate it! And…and…I used to love my dance class. I grew up there. The studio used to feel like a magical place.

And then I got older and I got glasses and I started feeling like an outsider everywhere, even at dance class. I hated wearing my glasses there. The popular girls were in my class, and I wasn’t popular. I stood on the outskirts of their conversations. I didn’t know how to talk to them. Something I used to love was fraught with embarrassment and exclusion.

And I love writing. It’s my work, and it feels exactly like me. But I’m scared to share my book because I’m afraid of being rejected. I don’t want it to be like dance class.

I’m afraid of being laughed at…God! I feel like a little girl, standing on the edges of the dance floor, feeling like no matter what I do, I’ll never belong.”

I was sobbing…and laughing. It was a little ridiculous. And it also made sense. Of course I was afraid to launch an ebook…just as I was afraid to try new steps in dance class. I wouldn’t let myself try, because what if I screwed up? What if I gave people even more of a reason to exclude me?

All my anxiety wasn’t really about the launch. It was about a little girl, a girl who wanted so badly to belong. To be seen. To be loved and affirmed for her presence, for her contribution.

And now, having uncovered that old pain, I can, at last, be healed.

In a strange way, that hurt has become a blessing. Now, it’s as though 25-year-old me can reassure that scared little girl:  “Don’t worry. I can see your future…and you do get to belong. You meet some beautiful women who become your best friends. You meet an amazing man who loves you exactly as you are. You have adventures and deep relationships. And, guess what! You achieve your dream of becoming a writer. In fact, you have your first book coming out tomorrow!”

It’s enough to make me want to get up and dance.



*Names have been changed.

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  1. Brooke (Books Distilled) May 23, 2011 at 12:35 PM - Reply

    Hooray for you! I can’t wait to read your eBook!
    Remember when we took ballet together at Vassar (and then ate breakfast afterward every morning)?

  2. Melissa Javier-Barry May 23, 2011 at 1:59 PM - Reply

    Good luck tomorrow, Caroline! With admiration, Melissa

  3. Chris Parker May 23, 2011 at 2:29 PM - Reply

    I also look forward to reading it, I think you will do a great job and have a lot to share. Fear and rejection is worse when it is us telling us that we will fail. We fail a lot of times when we do not even try. If we try and fail then that is just an opportunity not a failure, if we do not try at all because of fear of failure we have already failed.

    • Caroline McGraw May 23, 2011 at 5:31 PM - Reply

      Thank you Chris! So true ~ I’m glad to have tried for something, rather than let the fear take over.

  4. Megan May 24, 2011 at 12:07 AM - Reply

    I’m praying for you, love! In honor of “Your Creed of Care”, I plan on doing the electric slide the next time I see you (7 yrs of ballet/tap, thank you very much…) Congratulations!

    • Caroline McGraw May 24, 2011 at 12:33 AM - Reply

      Megan, that means so much! Thank you. I cannot wait to see that slide! 😉

  5. Tanya May 26, 2011 at 6:14 PM - Reply

    I could not hold back the tears as I read that last paragraph. I still sometimes feel like that scared little child afraid of rejection and wanting to make my contribution…but reading your words were such a comfort to me…and I pray with hope that there is an older me in my future with a similar set of reassuring words…i cant wait to meet her…and to be her.

    • Caroline McGraw May 26, 2011 at 8:17 PM - Reply

      Oh, I believe that there is 🙂 Thank you, Tanya…reading your comment makes me feel like it was deeply worthwhile to write that post + be vulnerable in that way. xoxoxo!

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