Performed by: Kirk Franklin
DJ: A. Kenyatta Greer, storyteller and editor
Facing Your Fears to Grow Up Professionally
In this Dear John letter to fear, Kirk’s singers don’t just say so long – they warn fear not to ever come back.
I was 40 years old before I ever left the country. Unless the Caribbean counts. (As lovely as it is, the Caribbean doesn’t count.) And, while leaving the country isn’t a tangible measure of accomplishment, it was something that both fascinated and terrified me, because it required me to be alone in a way I’d never experienced before.
So, when my graduate program in communications and leadership studies offered a series of classes at our sister school in Cagli, Italy, I was all in – in theory. As the reality of the trip drew nearer, though, I embraced all of the reasons that already (and perennially) exist to keep a person from doing the things that push her to grow and stretch into self-realization.
Funding was late. I wasn’t going to go. My email address was wrong in the system, so I didn’t receive several important emails from the organizers. I wasn’t going to go. Life happened, and I wasn’t going to go.
Except that I did, and it – cliché notwithstanding – changed my life. I figured out just how big the world is and how I fit into it all. I was forced to check my nationalism (though not my patriotism) and to learn how to communicate in ways beyond words. I had to interview through an interpreter. I had to mitigate bias against me. I had to eat things I would not normally eat. I had to push myself physically to manage the terrain. I had to confront many more frightening things than I’d considered. And I did more than survive. I became greater.
I showed myself a little grace, realizing that perfection is not the real goal (a hard feat for an editor), but that it’s more important to make someone tap into a shared experience or feeling than to show that person how well I can construct sentences.
So, I use my small experience to implore you to also bid your fear farewell. Allow yourself the grace to experience something new – as messy as it may be – and come out of the moment with a valuable story to share. And then, share it. You’ll be a better writer, editor, voice talent, actor, PR specialist, and person for doing it. And you’ll make someone else a better something, too.
“Sorry Fear; Grace took your place.”
A. Kenyatta Greer is a storyteller and editor who currently works as director of communications at Emory University School of Law. She has worked in newspaper, magazine, public relations, and advertising environments and enjoys choosing the perfect song to accompany particular moments in her life. (“I Don’t Have the Heart” by James Ingram is perfect for a solo drive on a rainy day.) Find her at akenyattagreer.wixsite.com/portfolio.
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