Butterflies aren’t always sexy

When I first started thinking about choosing butterflies—choosing things that take me out of my comfort zone and give me butterflies—I thought about things that were exciting and inspiring. Travelling the world, volunteering in an exciting way, quitting a job to pursue a passion.

Things that would make others stop and say “wow”. Things that would be hard, but worth it. Things that would make me feel bold and brave and proud.

These were sexy butterflies.

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Photo by Nathan Shipps on Unsplash

But sometimes, choosing butterflies means doing something you really don’t want to do, something that is the opposite of everything you feel capable of doing. Something that forces you to dig up those deep-rooted roadblocks that you’ve been doing a great job of driving around for such a long time.

That happened to me last week.

I had to be the person to deliver some hard news. And in turn, that meant I had to be the person to handle the backlash.

This was hard for me for a few reasons.

  1. I hate confrontation. Want me to do something I don’t want to do? Raise your voice, just a little, and I’ll concede.
  2. I am a chronic people pleaser. I’ll tell you the dress looks great, or very politely tip-toe around the fact that maybe, possibly, there’s a dress that would look so much better than this one, but if you really like it, then it’s beautiful and you should wear it. (Sorry to anyone that’s reading this and has had this conversation with me)
  3. I don’t do well in reactive situations. I want to be thoughtful and strategic and put in a lot of work to plan and execute. I have a hard time on my feet, reacting in the moment.
  4. I have an overwhelming fear of making a really big mistake.

This task forced me to face these issues head on.

I would probably be yelled at.

I wouldn’t be able to please anyone because there was no way around this hard news.

I would be reacting in every single interaction.

There was the possibility I’d make a big mistake when I was in reacting-mode.

These were butterflies I’d have to face and nothing about it was exciting, inspiring or remotely sexy.

I could’ve said no. I could’ve said, “I’m not doing this.” But that wouldn’t have been professional or a team player. So I chose these hard, anxiety-ridden, unsexy butterflies.

And because this is what I do, I told people that this was stressing me out. I was open about the struggle. And people listened and spoke into that. They helped me see the big picture and how this fit into it.

(I can’t say this enough: don’t hide your struggle. Tell people, or at least someone, when you’re struggling.)

So we shared the hard news and the backlash ensued. And it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be…at least it hasn’t gotten there yet. This is likely due to the fact that I was convinced this was the worst thing that I could possibly have to do. (Spoiler alert: it wasn’t, and it won’t be). So with that mindset going in, anything would be better. It also wasn’t as bad because I was prepared as I could be, and I was well supported.

And how do I feel now? Happy that I had the opportunity to do this and grow? Proud of myself? Seeing the bigger picture and the lesson learned? Ready to tackle this again?

Nope. But I am okay.

I still would’ve preferred to have not had this responsibility. I don’t feel as though I’ve grown. I’m certainly not ready to tackle it again.

Maybe that’s because I’m actually not really finished with it, so I’m not quite ready to say I’m on the other side of it. And the anxious anticipation is still fresh in my mind.

But maybe it’s also because choosing butterflies can be painful and those lessons take a long time to be uncovered and digested.

It’s not always sexy.

But I have to believe that, in some way, it’s always worth it.

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