I was in love at twenty-three years old. With a red Mustang. Palmetto Ford in Charleston had the one I wanted. I drove a white Fifth Avenue Chrysler that broke down inappropriately in Church’s Chicken parking lots or at the Piggly Wiggly. With its terrible turning radius I rammed it a few times into parking garage bollards. Covering up the damage with white spray paint only made the car uglier.
I thought a new red sports car would make me feel love, acceptance and power. I didn’t think I was enough—I needed a new car to stop feeling ugly and awkward.
Yes, I had a job that paid $8/hr but I lived with my parents and didn’t put two and two together that I could probably have gotten a cheaper car and moved out from under their space. The car was one step up from the base model with no rear spoiler, a tape deck, and no rear defrost, so I had to always bring a towel out with me to clear the window in the back. It also had crank windows. Tried as I might my arms weren’t long enough to crank down the passenger-side window to shut out rain or talk to fellow drivers who found flaws in my impeccable driving.
Perhaps my new car turned well and didn’t break down, but then the cops showed up!
Due to red Mustang profiling I knew the inside of the court house a whole lot better than most people. I still say to myself, “giving this speech, getting fired, getting sued will NEVER be as bad a court date!” My Mustang was also a magnet for nefarious deeds: I had my hubcaps and windshield blades stolen twice, and experienced two hit-and-runs.
A friend told me I should sell my car but I didn’t see it as a burden—to me it was a symbol of independence, but it was costing me debt and anxiety AND I still felt a fear of rejection. Wasn’t the Mustang supposed to stop all this bad stuff?
Even after I sold it 10 years ago, I still hadn’t figured out why I kept getting in my own way, until I identified my three frenemies of debt, anxiety and fear of rejection AS they kept cropping up again and again preventing me achieving financial, professional and spiritual peace. Maybe they’re getting in your own way too.
WHY are you in debt in the first place? I had to stick my hand down into the slime for this one and feel the “ugghh.” For me, it was because I rationalized I needed to add debt to build my business. Then it became a way for me to buy clothes I couldn’t afford. Then the snowball effect by telling myself I deserved it. I wanted to change my habits by giving up monthly subscriptions and other expenses that I didn’t need. I told myself that if someone complained I wasn’t sending out such a nice newsletter they weren’t the ones paying my bills. It hurts, but it’ll make you grow!
I got myself out of debt by getting a part-time steady job, dropping networking luncheons, cutting and measuring expenses and not going to retail stores with my children.
I was born anxious. Most of my anxiety comes from the fear of being judged—yet we’re judged all of the time. Anxiety also comes from a fear of being embarrassed and failing —so how can you overcome these feelings? I used to doubt my ability to park—any kind of parking! I thought I would hit something and had with my white boat. Practice helped as did good antiperspirant and singing ‘90s country songs really loud. I also used to have anxiety attacks while driving at night in heavy rain—my husband fixed this problem by sanding off my headlights so they could gleam bright again. I’ve also overcome anxieties by investing in myself through taking music lessons, reading, and Toastmasters. And by realizing mistakes won’t kill me as well as having regular routines and rituals to train my brain. You can course-correct along the way and tell yourself a new story!
Fear of Rejection
I’ve realized that everyone fears rejection; you just have to get over this fear if you want to meet your goals. How? Muscle memory. Keep playing and getting that stage time! When I started playing my guitar in public, I could have stopped altogether when I missed notes, but I didn’t! Fiddle is even worse—there’s no place to hide! Don’t assume the person you’re emailing for an interview or workshop proposal is going to reject you even before you send the email. Do it anyway! Stop playing it safe all of the time because you think you’re not good enough. I’ve also realized that hanging with positive people who support you and hold you accountable is another way to manage this fear of rejection.
For me, debt, anxiety and the fear of rejection were my speedbumps in how I got in my own way and maybe they’re yours. They’ll never disappear but the more we practice our courage muscles, the more likely we won’t let them get in our way. And the fewer speedbumps the better, I say.