On faking it, until you make it

I had an interesting conversation with a good friend yesterday.  I hadn’t seen her for a  while and I was catching her up on all the incredible things that are happening in my life at the moment.  I told her that I had reached something that few people ever got to do in their life time.  Complete personal fulfillment, and complete confidence in my inherent value as a person.  I really do have it all.  A loving family.  A big, juicy, creative life, where I deny myself nothing that I want, which is  within my grasp.  Nothing negative that doesn’t serve me is allowed into my protective bubble, as I know time is  too short for that.  Life is condensed, full, vibrant, colourful, and utterly filled with promise.  It also pays great respect to all that bought me here.  Grief, pain, fear, the more malevolent promise that it will end long before I will feel the full warmth of it’s glow.  These things must be honoured, as they are the very things that make it what it IS.

I am elbow deep in some pre-publicity for the book at the moment.  It does involve you guys seeing me on the telly in the not too distant future, and it has been surreal, and somewhat confronting.  I have been given a lot of chance to let people know how I want the book to be received – what I want my legacy to be.  And when you think about it, that is  something we all get to choose, with the way that we live our lives.  How do YOU want to be remembered?

The amount of people that have taken time out of their lives to write to me and tell me what my blog has meant to them now numbers in the thousands.  It means lots of different things to different people.  To people with cancer, it means an understanding of their plight, and their pain.  To their partners and family, it has provided a window into our world.  For others, who are not sick at all, it has provided some perspective on what really matters, and what does not, when they too have realised that life is transient, and a tomorrow promised to none of us.  Most overwhelmingly though, the people who have written to me are those that have decided to come on an adventure with me.  Those that have realised they want to have their own big, juicy, creative and fulfilled life and have decided to take steps in that direction.  And, like me, they are not doing it in the absence of fear, but the realisation that without a great big leap of faith, NOTHING WILL EVER CHANGE.

And so, if I get to choose, that right there is the guts of what I want my legacy to be.  I want everyone who is reading this to have a similar conversation that I had with my friend yesterday, but I want them to have it without saying the OTHER words I said.  Because, right after I told her about my life most epic, I begged her not to think that I was smug.

In a few weeks, a collection of 70,000 or so of my words will find their way onto bookshelves, in bookshops and chainstores, and eventually onto the bookshelves in peoples homes.  My word, I do not do this without fear.  My biggest fear in putting it out there is the fear that people will shell out 30 bucks for a collection of my thoughts, and think I am SMUG.  Because, we are afraid to be confident, afraid to believe in all that we do in case we come across as somewhat up ourselves – it’s a great fear of mine, and it’s bloody fine line.

But do you know what?  I do believe in it.  Because i know that I have put enough of myself and my vulnerabilities and my fears into it for you all to know that I am just like you.  I got an interesting message from a blog reader a few months ago telling me how she loved my blog, and she was delighted in it’s success, but she knew she could never achieve anything that I have, as she could see I was blessed with some kind of self assuredness that had always been a part of me, that that type of person is the only type that these things happen to.

I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.  I have  struggled for most of my life with self-loathing.  That I was fat, that I was ugly, that I walked with a limp due to a congenital hip problem.  That I wasn’t smart enough, interesting enough, that I just wasn’t enough full stop.

I HAVE changed that.   But the only way that I have grasped every opportunity that has come my way, that I have allowed myself to enjoy a little bit of limelight, that I have stopped worrying that people will look at me, and good god, actually SEE me, is by a degree of faking it until I made it.  I have been afraid all the time, but I have done it anyway.  And because of that, all good things have come.

I want to talk to you about starting small.  Someone told me once that you can’t eat an elephant whole – use a teaspoon.  An interesting analogy!

My adventure started with one small step.  For me, it was putting on a pair of bathers and going swimming with my children.  For many years I never swam with them as I was too worried about what people would think of the way I looked in bathers.  I know that is a big one for lots of people, so who wants to start with that?  Put on your bathers this week, take off to a public pool, or the beach if you are lucky enough to be somewhere warm.  Don’t wear your towel to the  edge and chuck it dramatically at the chair over yonder, while you try to dive in at the same time, so no one SEES you.  Leave your towel on the sidelines, stride confidently to the water, and get in.  Two things will happen.  You will realise that no one could give two shits about your lily white thighs, or your dimpled arse, they are too interested in their own lives.  You will also realise the water feels really, really good.  And later, you will say to yourself, hey, that wasn’t so bad, and you’ll do it again.  And then, slowly but surely, you will add something else, and then something else, and that great big, fearsome elephant will be all eaten up, and there you will  find yourself, in a starring role in your own big juicy awesome life.

Looking at old photos of myself is endlessly fascinating to me lately.  Here I am with my daughter, 3 years ago:

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This was me yesterday:

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All that, all THIS because I jumped in the water and pretended that I wasn’t afraid, until I realised that I really wasn’t afraid.

I was talking to my friend Catherine Deveny the other week.  She wanted to be sure that I knew that I am not having a book published and achieving all this success because someone felt sorry for the dying girl and wanted to help her make all her dreams come true.  That i created this, that it stands on it’s own merits.  She was concerned  that didn’t know this, but I said yes, I did, I finally had that little epiphany.  And then, she said this to me:

Sometimes at moments like these you stand on the mountain you climbed you understand where you are and how you got here.”  And she finished with a quote from Toni Morrison, which had a really big impact on me….”The purpose of freedom is to free someone else”.

Come and stand on the mountain with me.  It all begins with one small step, just a teaspoon.  One day, you will understand how you got there, and then, you’ll be free.

12 Comments on “On faking it, until you make it

  1. Beautiful and inspirational – if we could all follow this advice our lives would be all the richer!! You look so vibrant and alive – if embodying your advice brings the fervour that you ooze, then you can count me in!

  2. Your my poster chick for tough days. You acknowledge them, let it be and then dust yourself off and go for WONDERFUL.

  3. You have inspired me time and time again with your blog. You inspired me to go and get a bowel cancer test kit, you inspired me to go seek out a writing course and to follow my dreams – cos life is short and doesn’t have to be shit.
    Thank you for you blog Julia. Thank you very much. You deserve every success that cascades your way.
    (However, I’m still not swimming with my kids. There is a limit to even your inspirational power.)

  4. I cried reading this. It’s me, the fat girl, the never good enough girl…the feeling resentful girl. Thank you, I’m grabbing the teaspoon!!

  5. My gosh girl that was some writing even by your incredible standards. I just had to stop right now what I was doing and thank you for what you are doing. X

  6. A friend shared your post on FB. You are truly inspirational! I see, with interest, that you are also the mother of a child with Down syndrome. I have an amazing young son who makes me prouder than I have a right to be. Nice to ‘meet’ you and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

  7. Julia Watson, you are Beautiful! Early in the wee hours this am when I couldn’t sleep, and on the opposite side of the world from you, I discovered “Five Fairies and a Fella.” You write in such a heartfelt, eloquent manner, expressing your feelings in such a poignant way! Love it! Didn’t get to all blogs but enjoyed the June and the July ones. 
       I shall remember especially your advice about leaving your towel and walking confidently to the pool and not worrying in the least what others think. 
    Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do.” So true! Also, “the magic of the moments.” The older I get the more I enjoy the moments of life, even the mundane tasks (well, most of them!). I drink in each moment with my two grown children, & love hearing about the time you spend with your children, too. 
        One other thing……..I agree with Robyn about your daughter’s school work and your upcoming trip. As a former 4th grade teacher, when parents approached me about giving their children work for an upcoming trip, I always gave them the assignment of writing each evening about what they saw and did that day. It was so much fun when they returned and read their “diary” to us. We went on their trip, too, and learned so much! A trip like yours will be an education in itself.
       Looking forward to your next adventure. You seem to be able to make an “event” of even the simple times. So nice! 
       Thinking positively about you being tumor free.

  8. Whilst everything you write is inspiring, this is my absolute favorite!! So very true!!

  9. Julia, you touched my heart and brought me to tears with your simple wisdom. Thank you for your inspirational words and encouragement. God bless you and your family. Much love to you.

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