I didn’t expect to cry when I saw Sheryl Sandberg at BlogHer. I haven’t even read Lean In, the book by the Facebook COO about what women have to do to succeed. I haven’t even read many of the articles about Lean In. I tend to be turned off my mass movements. Still, I cried after a Lean In promotional video Sheryl Sandberg showed. The video asked, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
Through the Lean In organization Sheryl Sandberg has been asking women “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” The video was of women answering that question. And I cried.
I don’t think of myself as being afraid. I’m one of those women who sits at the head of the table in meetings. I’ve often been told I’m too aggressive at work. (Just last week a co-worker said I am often “a bull in a china shop.” Flattering!) In a lot of ways I am the type of woman Sheryl Sandberg says I should be.
Yet when I watched that video I cried.
Maybe I cried because I was overly tired from the BlogHer parties the night before. Maybe I cried because being an introvert at a conference of 5000 people can be exhausting. Maybe I cried because I’m just the sort of person who cries at things.
But I think there was a bigger reason why I cried at Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In video.
I don’t think of myself as being afraid, but here is the reality. I am a woman who took every writing elective I could fit into my business school schedule yet never considered changing my major. I am a woman who has loved to be on stage since she was a little girl but has only gone on one audition in the past 10 years. I am a woman who got a highly specialized master’s degree from a prestigious university on a topic she finds immensely interesting yet has rarely found an opportunity to use. I am a woman who spent the last 6 years in an uninteresting and unchallenging job only to be rewarded for my loyalty by having my position be eliminated.
I’ve spent so much time being afraid that I don’t even notice the fear. What’s worse is that my dreams have been so dampened by fear that I don’t even see them anymore. Sure I can think of little things I’d like to do, but what would I most like to be doing? What should be my life’s passion? This is what I don’t know.
“What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” I can’t even imagine such a moment.
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