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Listener Mail: How Do I Get Over My Fear of Rejection and Be More Authentic?

Erin: Welcome to Hotter Than Ever listener mail. I'm your host, Erin Keating. And in these new short weekly episodes, I give you my opinionated and not at all officially qualified feedback about the questions, problems, quandaries, and dilemmas that you have posed to me about love, sex, relationships, career, aging, confidence, ambition, divorce, and anything else that's on your mind today.

I have a question from Jen. She writes,

"Erin, I love the podcast and admire your ability to put your whole self out there. I'm getting close to doing the same, but damn that fear of judgment, criticism and rejection is strong. How have you dealt with it and been able to move forward with putting amazingly authentic content out into the world? Thanks for any advice you can offer."

Jen. Oh, Jen, thanks for giving me the opportunity to read [00:01:00] your compliments to me out loud on the air and also for asking a question that I think I am well qualified to answer. How do I put my whole self out there? And how can you do the same?

We live in a culture that conspires for us to compartmentalize and to hide parts of ourselves in order to make nice in the world, you know, when I was climbing the corporate ladder and I decided to have kids, I kind of knew that the unspoken agreement in the corporate world was for successful professional women to not talk about their children, to not talk about the juggle and challenge of being a working mom of maybe even being the breadwinner in your family of carrying so much [00:02:00] responsibility on your shoulders, both inside and outside the office.

And what a challenging situation that is. I kind of knew that that was the compromise that was going to keep me climbing on the corporate ladder. And so I really didn't talk very much about my kids. I also had misery happening in my home life, and I didn't talk to anybody about that either. I just showed up and smiled and worked hard and I just did the grind like everybody expected me to, like I expected me to, I separated the personal from the professional and it was misery. It was misery because that is not the way we should live.

If you can't bring your whole self to your place of business--I'm not saying like, show up with your tits out. I'm just [00:03:00] saying, find some people who you can be a human being with and share your truth with them. We did it in whispers and on walks and, and crying in the bathroom. I feel like every woman in the corporate world can relate to this. I say this in response to your question about putting your whole self out there because so much of my life today is a sort of intense reaction to how much I shut myself down and did not put my whole self out there.

I didn't want to be censured. I didn't want to be seen as messy. I didn't want to not be able to compete. But having the opportunity because I got laid off to step away from that way of thinking and having the opportunity because I got divorced to stop protecting what was going on inside my home and my relationship and my family [00:04:00] that was miserable for me, that I was lying to the outside world about because no one fucking wants to hear it. I didn't want to show up sloppy. I didn't want people to be worried about me. And I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to change it, so I wasn't going to complain about it. I also couldn't see it too clearly.

I'm painting the picture of my own life and the circumstances that led me to be able to do what I'm doing today. And it's because I let go of needing to impress everyone. Of needing to show up in a way that was going to make me approvable and tolerable in these different contexts where I really needed to be approvable and tolerable. I wanted to make money. I wanted to have this career. I wanted to have this increasingly impressive list of titles and more responsibility. I wanted more agency in my professional life, and I wanted to be a married person. [00:05:00] I wanted to be a married person. I did not want to be a single mom, but when everything blew up, and then when I conspired to help it blow up, when I got separated, and then I got laid off, and then I got divorced, I started to think about whose judgment am I afraid of?

Whose criticism am I afraid of? Who am I afraid of being rejected by? And do I even really care what those people think of me? And do I really even care about their approval outside of the structures that I needed their approval in? You know, we want to be good girls. We want to be liked. We want to be acceptable, we don't want to be put on the outside. We don't want to be pushed out. We don't want to be marginalized. But some people, no matter what you do or say, are not going to like you.

And I've talked about this on the podcast before. There's an episode early on that I did about likability. Some [00:06:00] people are not going to like you. And guess what? You don't like everyone. You're lying if you say you do. And I think it's worth asking yourself, how long are you going to let fear of other people's points of view dictate how you live your one and only life?

You are just as entitled as anybody else to speak your truth. You are just as entitled as anybody else to be extra on social media, to overshare, to all the things that you look at other people doing and you go, Oh, I could never. Oh, I couldn't. Oh, how could she say that? How could he do that? Why is he taking a picture of that? Why are we? I mean, really, like, none of it is outside the realm of possibility for you. It's just what you decide you allow yourself to express. I'm afraid that because I love talking about sex, that I'm not going to be employable, [00:07:00] that I've been too public about my journey.

I'm afraid of that. But then I think, you know, Well, the people who would judge and reject me and not hire me because I'm too self expressed, are those people I would want to collaborate with anyway? Are those the people who I would want to hang out with? Why do I want the approval of people who would judge me harshly for being self expressed and honest?

I really don't care what they think. And I think some of this comes with the privilege of age. I'm 52. I don't really give a fuck about a lot of things that I used to really give a fuck about. I suspect you don't either, but you're telling yourself that you should or you're supposed to, or it's going to upset the balance or the apple cart of your life.

I almost feel like [00:08:00] being as self expressed as I am on this podcast, being as vulnerable, as honest, as real as I really aspire to be, And I'm sure there's layers of bullshit that I'm putting out there that, like, if I listen back to something, I'd be like, that wasn't quite the truth.

You know, I'm really excellent at lying to myself. I'm the best liar to myself. Right? That's the thing I'm trying not to do. I'm trying not to lie to myself. That's why I'm trying to be so honest with you. I feel like I'm intentionally forcing myself through my authenticity, through my honesty, into a new kind of life where I get to be that person. Where I get to play a different role in the world, in my community, on behalf of other women that I get to show up in a different way.

And yeah, part of that is just accepting that people are maybe going to judge me. People are maybe not going to [00:09:00] like me. Not everyone is going to like whatever it is that you're going to do next, Jen. Who fucking cares? Do you like it? And maybe spend some time thinking about the opposite point of view. What if you came from, not the fear of rejection, but the mission that you're on by being self expressed?

What does your authenticity provide for other people. What does you telling the truth enable for other people? I think it makes people feel like they're not alone. I think it makes people feel like they have a friend who has some shared experience. I think people see that it's possible to be changeable, adaptable, different, evolving, pivoting later in life. That it's possible not to be [00:10:00] dominated by other people's opinions when you come from a place of mission and you come from a place of values.

What I want to provide for people who listen to this podcast through my authenticity and vulnerability, through my sticking my neck out there, through my risking being unemployable in certain contexts that I probably wouldn't want to be in any way authentically, although I might, you know, need a job one day and I'll, maybe I'll have a different point of view about having put it all out there, but for today, I'm trying to live into a new kind of life.

I'm trying to live into the version of myself who is brave, who doesn't come from a place of over caution, who doesn't come from a place of having to put out a perfect image or to prove to everyone that I'm good enough to meet the standards of certain systems that I didn't even fucking work to create.

Am I angry? I might be a [00:11:00] little bit angry and I'm angry at myself for having put myself. Into this box of rules about what I can say and who I can be and what parts of myself I can show and what parts of myself I have to hide for fear of being rejected, for fear of being seen as too emotional or too sexual or too much.

I mean, my biggest fear in life. And certainly in my personal romantic relationships is that I'm going to be too much, but I know that if I just work hard to be actually who I am and I stop worrying about being too much, the people who show up in my life to love me and support me and cheer me on are going to be people who like that part of me. Who don't judge me in the way that I judge myself.

So I hope that's helpful, Jen, because I think you're going to crush it. I think you're going to challenge yourself to be [00:12:00] more authentic than maybe you've let yourself be in the past. I think people respond to honesty. People respond to vulnerability. I mean, I've always been a comedy person. I'm obsessed with comedy. And part of what I love about it is that that's the place where people say the things we're all thinking but we're scared to say. That's why I love comedians, they're truth tellers. I want to be a truth teller in my own way. And I think you do too. I think you just want to say what's so.

And what if we all did that? What if we lived in a world where we all said what's so instead of pretending the things were something that they're not. I think we'd still be productive. I think we'd still be successful. We'd probably have much less heart disease and hypertension and panic attacks. Many fewer of us would be on antidepressants, you know, if we weren't trying so hard to sell a compressed [00:13:00] or airbrushed or perfected version of ourselves. Like, what if we were just being us out there in the world? God, that's my fucking mission, is to have more of us tell the truth, and more of us be who we are, and say what's so for us. I cannot wait, Jen, to hear what you put out there. You better keep me posted.

Thanks for listening to Harder Than Ever Listener Mail. How can you ask a question? I'm so glad you asked. DM us @hotterthaneverpod on Instagram or leave me a voicemail or text the Hotter Than Ever Hottie Hotline at 323 844 2303. I have gotten some voicemails. I want more voicemails. I will play them on the air. You will hear your own voice on this podcast if you ask an awesome question that I think I can answer. In some way, shape, or form, I would love to [00:14:00] answer your question in a future episode.

Hotter Than Ever is produced by Erica Girard and PodKit Productions. Our associate producer is Melody Carey. Music is by Chris Keating with vocals by Issa Fernandez. Come back next week for more Listener Mail.


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