In a world of acronyms and hashtags, I reference Strangers To Friends as, STF.  But I often get, “what does STF mean?” So, I brainstormed a bit on other possible words. That’s when it hit me: STEP THROUGH FEAR. Why? Because… to experience anything in life, from introducing yourself to the stranger at the coffee shop reading a book you love to signing up to run your first half marathon to moving to a new city by yourself… it requires you to: step through fear.

A Personal Story: Had it really been a year since I’d connected with my Stranger To Friend, Ron? With a Coffee Date on the calendar I couldn’t wait to hear what was brewing in his world. As a multi talented comedian and performer, I was so excited when he told me all about his upcoming One Man Show at a theater close to my house. As I listened to his story, I also heard a voice inside me shout, “tell him you want to be on stage and have a one woman show, too”. From studying theater at performing arts school in high school  to taking Improv Comedy classes at a school in San Diego, my Television Broadcasting degree naturally led me to love being seen and heard, especially when it comes to my own stories. Whether I’m motivating, educating or entertaining, I love public speaking, which to most people, is as scary as death! But to me, I feel alive. There’s something about the freedom to express myself with a live audience, hearing their reactions, that lights me up!

As soon as I congratulated him on his success, without thinking, the words, ” I’ve want my own show, too”  jokingly flew out of my mouth. But Ron picked up on my truth! Knowing I was full of entertaining stories and we could support each other, he followed my up  with a powerful, “Yes, and… ” and said,  “want the first 10 minutes of my act as a Stand Up Story Teller?” The smile crept across my face and again without thinking… I squealed, “oh my goodness, yes! Let’s do this!”

And as quickly as I said yes, reality set in. Was he being serious? What story would I share? Fear rose in my chest. Recognizing my resistance, he reminded me it wasn’t about being perfect, it’s about showing up. This was my chance to check an item of my “don’t just dream it, do it list” My face in our selfie below says it all!

What is Fear?
The voice in our head is a trickster. Fear, our Ego often serves to keep us small. (trust me, I get it!)  It likes to dress up as avoidance or procrastination but make us think we are being productive. The ego likes us to color inside the lines and stay clear of judgement. The ego definitely does NOT want you to get on stage to tell a story to a bunch of strangers for the first time.

What was I really afraid of? Being seen? NO… I already knew I loved the stage. Being heard? NO, I love telling stories. I was scared of doing something new for the first time. I was scared of being criticized. I was scared of not being enough.

But, you know where this story goes. Of course I did it! And, I had fun! In fact, I can’t wait to do it again.

When deciding what story to share, I went with one I’ve told a lot of friends that always gets a “oh my goodness I can’t believe you did that” response. Listen below as I share “How I got on the airplane to Australia knowing I’d lost my Wallet” — yes, TRUE STORY. I knowingly flew penniless to the other side of the world, in 2005, before Facebook or travel Cell Phones. Remember, this is the first time I’ve ever told this on stage. It’s not perfect… but when is any first time perfect! It was fun, I’m proud of myself and I think you’ll laugh… and that’s all that matters.

Best part: post show, people people came up to me excited to tell me their own crazy travel tale. I was reminded, once again, when I share my story I give permission for others to share theirs, too. A positive ripple effect!

TRUTH: The adrenaline coursing through your body when you’re scared is the same adrenaline that courses through your body when you’re excited. Fear and excitement feel the same physiologically! Elevated heart rate, maybe some butterflies in your stomach, increased awareness and inability to sleep, and a feeling of pent-up energy are very common signs of both fear and excitement. They feel the same physically, but emotionally and mentally they are polar opposites. Fear can be debilitating at worst, and needlessly (and negatively) stressful at best. Excitement is fun, enjoyable, and addictive.

A few weeks ago, at a Strangers To Friends experience, a guy shared, “I’ve received your invitations for over a year but was scared to come. I can’t believe I waited so long”. I smiled. Many people have expressed the same feeling! REALITY: the only way to discover the other side of the fear is to take action and do it! I know, easier said than done, but EVERYONE is a first-timer, their first time they do anything. You’re not being set up to fail. You’re being challenged to.. .Step Through Fear.

When was the last time you stepped through fear — and experienced joy?
What action can you take this week to step through fear and invite a new experience?