“Do you want to come and talk about self-love next week?”. PANIC. #Storytime
I stare at the Facebook chat with my incredibly gorgeous and talented friend, Melanie, founder of a female community that is spreading like a beehive – Million Dollar Ladies.
I blink a couple of times, clean the lenses of my dirty glasses, and look at my own reflection in the mirror across the room.
I am sitting in my messy room, wearing a baggy t-shirt, my curly hair turning into dreads and have paused an episode of House of Cards to reply to the message.
I wish I could say that I was excited. And to be honest, I was deep inside. But all that my body and mind knew in that precise moment was complete and utter fear.
I went over thousands of possible excuses to say ‘no’ to speaking about something so personal in front of a small group of strangers; but I couldn’t come up with anything.
I wasn’t dying. Or at least I hope not for a while.
I ticked ‘going’ to the event on Facebook, which if you know Facebook etiquette, it would mean having to drag this ass outside of the messy room and forget about pretending like I am going to events so that my Facebook friends think I am socially active, when I am actually content sitting on my bed reading Harry Potter for the 200th time.
So I had no excuses. No emergency exists in sight. You have to do it, you big baby. I told myself over and over again.
I acted my best performance of excited, said yes, shut my laptop, threw my phone over the room like we do when we want to escape the reality of our actions once we press send to a message; and I just laid there.
I laid on my bed for probably an hour. Drowning in the anxiety of having to talk in front of people and the excitement of being chosen to discuss it at the same time.
Why aren’t you happy about it? My partner asked me, his enthusiastic eyes looking at me like I was a weird species of plants.
And I really couldn’t answer him. It’s not that I don’t feel happy when people think my opinions are not just words on a screen, or a cracking joke.
I am happy and I am proud of the things I say, write and think. Otherwise I wouldn’t be sharing them with the world.
But it’s this voice inside my head. It’s like this tiny screeching violin sound that sits between my right ear and exactly under the curl that always turns into a dread when I don’t wash my hair after going to the beach.
It’s a voice that used to scream at the top of its lungs years ago; a voice that only knows how to put me down and turn me into a ball of insecurity and low self-esteem.
She tells me, ‘you know, you shouldn’t do it, people will figure it out you’re full of shit’
‘They will read the things you write and laugh at you’
‘They will judge you for how you look’
‘It will be like when you peed in your pants in front of the whole city’
Alright, let me clarify this, before you think that I adventure into some weird fetish on my days off.
When I was 7-8 years old I sung Amazing Grace in front of the whole city at a Christmas concert.
I didn’t know the words to the lyrics, my voice was cracking up and the mayor was sitting right in front of me; and being the biggest politics nerd there was even since primary school, it was pretty much like having Oprah in front of me. It was like having freaking Santa Claus falling asleep front-row!
And I may have peed my pants. I may have fucked it up majorly with wetting myself from being so scared.
I still remember that moment of going off the stage and feeling my pants drenched; smiling at people, shaking their hands, feeling like I was such a grown-up, but then coming to the realisation that, you know, I had just peed my pants. It was like a message from the sky.
I know you think you have done something incredible, but you just peed your pants, you big baby.
So there I was laying on my bed; my brain overheating in trying to think of an idea on what to talk about self-love in a sincere way, when I was actually there swallowing in my own self-doubts.
I groaned, pressed play on House of Cards and decided to let my mind wander off for a while. Go and think of something that isn’t me crying, or me peeing in my pants, brain. We got shit to do.
The reason why I am scared is because I am excited. I told myself over and over in front of the mirror.
And it’s true. I had excitement and joy somewhere in that huge black hole of overwhelming feeling of fucking it up in 0 time. I just didn’t know it yet.
I printed all of my (messy) notes. Had my pamphlets ready. I did my make up and attempted to look like I actually had gotten some sleep and not watched a show for the last 3 days.
I looked around the small conference room filled with exciting and positive women, and all I could think was – these women took their time of their lives to come down here and they will listen to me, and I might waste their time.
I needed a drink. I hate to say that I need anything other than a huge plate of nonna’s pasta and the feeling when you put your feet up against the wall after a long day, but there are times when you need a glass of wine to give you a bit ofcourage (tequila works better), and health gurus, you can fight me on that.
I tried to tell myself that it was fine. It was only 15 minutes in front of a crowd that was welcoming and positive enough not to throw pub chicken wings at me.
I tried to tell myself that I talked about self-love and being honest to yourself on my Instagram every day; I wrote posts, vlogged, retweeted Dalai Lama quotes and pinned on my vision board (YES SHE CAN). I am not Oprah, I am not the guy who wrote the power of now, and I am not some health guru. I am human. I mess it up.
I am a mess 90%of the time. I doubt on myself even when making coffee in the morning. I write, do things and forbid myself from checking them again by throwing my phone across the room, as it could magically erase the message that I had just set into the web-stone.
I don’t believe that I can do half of the things I scribble on my journal to do every day, but I know one thing, and that things is that I may mess it up, but it’s better than sitting in my room wishing I had put myself out there.
I remembered about one of many podcasts I waste my free time on, which starred my mentor (she doesn’t know it yet) Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat. Pray, Love and Big Magic, who talks about the importance of fear in the creative process, and she talks about is so well, like the big sister we never had.
We need to pay attention to our fears. Question them. Ask them where the hell they want to take us to. Why are they there, and we mustn’t allow them to drive us insane.
I went into the toilet and met my fear, eye-to-eye, like the few seconds before a boxing match.
It’s just fear of disappointment, of not coming across as the person you wish to be. A fear of being vulnerable for the vultures to pick on your weaknesses and smirk at you.
It’s fear of confirming the worst fear of all, the one that will forever haunts you at night – that you are actually nobody at all.
See, when fear is behind the wheel, it distracts you. It tells you, how about we go home and relax. That’s why you gotta keep it stranded to the passenger seat.
Because really all that fear can teach you is that,
a) even when you feel prepared, you’re not at all.
b) if you push beyond that fear, you will find that you got something done.
And I understood that when I was standing in front of a group of women whose eyes were fixed onto me, some encouraging, other curious, listening to what I was saying.
About that: I have no idea what I said in those 15-20 minutes.
Because here is what I have learned.
Even when you expect your mind to take a road that you have carefully planned and laid out for it to follow, imagining that you would deliver a speech that could make Obama pee in his pants; you somehow always find yourself on the dirty, bumpy road that you have purposely dragged yourself into.
I didn’t look at my notes. I didn’t even think of a structure, even though I had skipped an episode of House of Cards to plan it out. And I surely didn’t pee in my pants like I did in front of the whole city.
Because you really have no idea what is there to wait for you at the end of the finish line, until you throw yourself into it.
Every time you push yourself outside of your comfort zone, you might think that you have learned a lesson; that you will be ready to face whatever is thrown at you in that field.
But how wrong you are. Because every time life throws you another SUPRISE BITCH of unexpected.
And that’s why you need faith in yourself. I like to say that I don’t have faith in myself, that I don’t believe in myself. And sometimes it’s true. Sometimes I find it hard to read, or look at the things I do and not cringe like I had just touched wet food from a dirty plate.
Sometimes it’s hard to not see myself as just a money-making person who is here to pay bills, taxes and survives through the burden of being a graduate student in a world with a few opportunities for them.
But then I know that deep down inside of me, there is this voice that is way louder and way more powerful than the one in my head. It’s in my gut. And that voice is the voice of me as the child that I once was.
She’s telling me: ‘Go on, you weirdo’.
It’s not soothing, it’s not comforting. It’s not a spiritual animal, and it’s surely not my chakra talking to me.
It’s just me being a fearless, no fucks-giver child who used to be really shy with strangers, but who was somehow always surround by people. It’s the child who used to watch political debates on the tv and dream of being the first female Italian PM and then play it out by herself in her grandmother’s dressing room.
She had no limits to that sky. No filter, and no doubts.
During that speech, I spoke about one of my biggest secrets – my eating disorder – something that still makes me feel like setting myself on fire when I even mention it. It’s a thick scar tissue that I don’t let even myself touch it sometimes.
You can imagine how much I hated that voice in my gut, when she told me to discuss it.
But following that voice has always brought me to a place of satisfaction. Maybe I didn’t know it at the time, but following what this child told me to do, is always like following like that feeling that, yes the universe is crazy weird and random, but it almost seems like it has found a balance for you to live some incredible moment.
I went to a difficult and challenging high school because of it.
I met my favorite band because of it.
I met my partner because of it.
I moved to Australia because of it.
And I graduated uni because of it.
And I started writing again because of it.
And so when I finished talking and the adrenaline was coming down and my hair at that point was as frizzy like my beloved Hermione, I realised how excited I actually had been.
How fear was just there to push me to uncover this excitement.
I shook hands, exchanged hugs, took pictures and talked to women who came up to talk to me because of what I had shared – and that was incredible. That was exactly what my life had always been about. The power of storytelling.
As I was surrounded by so much empowerment, so much support from kind and loving strangers, I could visibly and clear and it might have been the wine, or the fact I hadn’t had dinner, but I could see that voice. That little girl in that power pose telling me with an Italian accent
‘You stupid fool, see what you had to do to understand that you’re not worthless?’
Until next time, Fear.
I want to kindly thank every single woman who came to listen to me speak about self-love on Thursday. I was beyond honoured.
And thank you, Million Dollar Ladies for always sharing and supporting women to achieve their best and greatest potential. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my story.
You can find the female community on https://www.facebook.com/mdlcommunity/?fref=ts
And a massive thank you to my friends Madison, Fern and Jasmine to come and see me and cheer for me. Also, Fern took all of these pictures, thank you girl.