My Year of Fear

To be totally honest, I sort of hate change, which creates a kind of stumbling block for someone who sells it.  My aversion to change would be tricky for you to pick up on because, initially, I embrace taking risks the way a teenager does. I set outlandish goals, throw myself into action, racing through task lists at breakneck speed. I do this until I can see the finish line - and then I find a million legitimate reasons not to cross it. My reasons are so insurmountable that I could convince virtually anyone that the end in sight isn’t right for me; that a change in course (or slamming on the breaks) is exactly the right maneuver.

I know why I do this. At some level, I’m afraid of change, even when that change promises to bring something magical into my life. My fear of change has honed me into a master saboteur, someone who can find a reason to say no when all signs point to yes.

I didn’t set out to make 2015 the year in which I’d embrace fear, but as I take inventory of the past 11 months and the progress that made this a stand out year, I have to acknowledge that the distinguishing factor for me was a willingness to say yes even when I was riddled with fear.

Here’s the biggest example of how this played out in 2015: For 7 years, I’ve been building a media career, hoping to bring the tools and concepts that I teach in my office to a wider audience. This has been a goal of mine because over the years I've seen just how teachable life skills are: relationship skills, communication skills, emotional management skills, etc. I’ve essentially wanted to spare people some of the struggles I’ve experienced from having to create these tools for myself. 

In June of this year, at the end of a grueling ballet class on a Friday night, my manager calls me to tell me that a production company wants to fly me out to LA to audition for a show that E! has picked up. They’re auditioning a handful of shrinks and I’ve made the short list. Can I be in LA on Monday.

My knee jerk thought is a resounding no. No, I can’t cancel my Monday clients – it’s fucking Friday night. Furthermore, I’m in the middle of a program that I’m hosting called Goals Bootcamp and I’ve got work to do this weekend for that program. And also, there’s Steph, my wife, who needs (or wants) time to prepare for me to fly to the other end of the country, or at least that’s what I think. This will ruin our Sunday night. It will disrupt my clients. And it’s just plain inconvenient

The thing is, I love E! Network. They gave me my TV debut years ago. I know the people who make the decisions at that network and I like them. So something strange happened. I said yes.

Three weeks later, I’m offered the job as host of what will become a show called Famously Single. And of course, I say no.

The contract is all wrong. It’s filming in LA, which, had I known at the time of the audition, would have prompted me to pass. The shoot schedule will require me to leave New York for months. What will that do to my clients? What will that do to my practice? What will it do to my marriage? How will I pay my bills? No. No. And NO.

“Don’t decline that opportunity until we talk. You’re not turning that down!!!” is the text that my friend Michael sends me after hearing that I’ve been offered the show. This, coupled with similar communications from other members of my tribe, is why I never send the email saying no.

Ultimately, the contract morphs into something I can live with. So now it’s happening. I’m flying out to LA in November. I’m committed. There’s no backing out. And this scares the shit out of me.

I am the embodiment of a control freak – a Virgo to the nth degree. I like predictability, certainty, risk taking on my terms, and it’s becoming clear to me that what I’ve signed up for is the antithesis of those things.

I do it anyway. It’s an exercise in emotional flexibility, the likes of which I’ve never experienced. Once I’m there, I make the decision to surrender to the process. It seems to be the logical choice given that I have control over nothing. I don’t choose my clothing, my hairstyle, my makeup – even the shape of my eyebrows is decided on by an expert. I’m informed of the next day’s schedule half an hour before I fall asleep each night. On the set each day, I’m told what I’m doing five minutes before I have to do it.  The only thing I have control over is what comes out of my mouth – a liberty that I’m both astounded by and beyond appreciative of.

I blink and it’s over. I’m on a plane back to Manhattan, my head whirling, trying to make sense of what I’ve experienced. I just spent 3 weeks living my dream I say to myself. When I land, I’ll repeat that sentiment to anyone who will listen – for weeks.

I can’t imagine the ways in which my life will change when the show airs in May. I alternate between having nightmares and wet dreams about the outcome.  This uncertainty scares me. It fills me with fear. Which seems a fitting way to wrap up 2015.