Risky Business

I am a “dabbler” in Etsy.  If you’ve not heard of Etsy before, it’s a wonderful site where creative people can sell their work and it has become very popular.  I have just started with them, looking to maybe try selling some beaded jewelry and baby sweaters.  They are great at what they do because they give a ton of support and “how tos”, one of these being regular email postings of helpful hints.

The “hint” that came today was incredibly well-timed and reminded me full on about what for me became my biggest and probably most  surprising challenge of intense grief– my loss of self-confidence.

After I had my daughter, I returned to my job as the Director of Family Support Services at an agency serving people with Developmental Disabilities.  I continued to work hard at my job and moved up “the ladder” taking on more responsibility, eventually becoming Executive Director of a Subsidiary Corporation.  The point here is that while at my job, in my work environment, I was for the most part my capable, strong self- full of purpose, direction, multi-tasking with the best of them. But when I left work and went into the outside world…

I remember going to my son’s soccer game and standing on the sideline feeling like I didn’t know anyone.  Suddenly, I seemed to be incapable of talking to people, even though I might have just come from running a big meeting.  I would avoid going to large gatherings because I felt like my head was as big as an elephant and everyone was staring at me.  And it wasn’t because they were thinking about what had’ happened” to me – most likely, they didn’t even know. I just felt like a zero, like I had nothing to offer. I didn’t fit  I didn’t know how to put words together anymore.

The Etsy email referred to a blog post about learning to take “mini risks”.  The author talked about picking up on little opportunities to chat with someone- complementing on a blouse or hairstyle, asking how he likes the phone he has or the book he’s reading.  This is not to say that it still won’t feel awkward or like you’re going to pass out if the person doesn’t smile back you.  When you are grieving, it’s a whole different ball game as they say, and it can take enormous strength and courage to just walk into a room, never mind actually to talk to someone.

But I like the idea of “mini risks”.  I think it can be a good way to look at it.  You can even practice ahead of time.  You can think up a couple of questions before you get to wherever you’re going and then look around and target someone and go for it.  You can always have an escape plan if it doesn’t go the way you want or it doesn’t feel good or you can only handle a small bit.  Excuse yourself to go to the bathroom, get a drink or food, “see someone you know”- whatever.  With cell phones handy, you can always get a phone call!

“Mini risks” can start out in the open- in a store, on a bus, in a restaurant- no commitment.  It can be with complete strangers or acquaintances.  The main thing is to get your confidence back.  I think that’s one of the toughest blows of grief.  One day you’re in control and the next, you realize you never were.  It shakes your very foundation.  But you can get it back a bit at a time- one “mini risk” at a time.  With each step you feel a little stronger to take the next one.  And when you have “bad days” in the future, as we all do, you can remember that you did it before and you can do it again.



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vince Chough
    Mar 13, 2012 @ 17:57:09

    Hey Cindy… It does work! I took a mini-risk at the bank the other day. Here in BA the bank lines are often an hour long. So I struck up a conversation with a nice person in line. We talked family, history, politics and faith. It was great and the wait flew by. We have to connect to get through this thing called life.

    Thanks again for this blog. It helps me help others. Grace and blessings, Vince


    • Cindyss
      Mar 14, 2012 @ 22:53:27

      Hi Vince
      I’m glad that you’re finding something useful here. I think if we all connected in more positive ways, we’d find we have more in common than not and life would be better all around. I can’t believe you have to wait so long in line- people here would go crazy!


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