(This is the short version, without the juicy details.)
Years ago, a client told me that hired me because spoke to him about his home in a way that he wasn’t expecting: straight-up truth, with a side of sass.
He said he liked my moxie.
He wasn’t the only one that used that term to describe me.
Google defines moxie as “force of character, determination, nerve.”
It is an accurate description of me. At least it was. For most of my life, I’ve been steadfast in my determination to do things my way, to buck the trends, and to throw caution to the wind. I have been willing to take big risks and I’ve been willing to fail.
Snarky. Sarcastic. Sassy. Stubborn.
All words that have been used to describe me.
One day I realized my moxie had eroded.
Death by One Thousand Cuts
It happened over a span of time, with little chips. There were the little digs to watch what I say and monitor my image, because if I say the “wrong” thing or don’t portray myself in my best light, “people” won’t be attracted to me. Potential clients. Potential romantic partners.
After I sustained a brain injury, people advised me not to publicly share my struggles in recovery because people would think I was unable to take on business.
When I started experimenting with live video, people told me to remove some of my images because they were “unflattering.”
It wasn’t just comments about my image or specific things to avoid sharing. There were other generalizations that insinuated that I was flawed in some way.
You’re too intense.
You should soften your tone.
Embrace your feminine.
The internet is filled with trolls. But the worst offenders are typically not strangers, but those closest to us. They tell you things “for your own good” and because they care.
They do care. And they think they are telling you things for their own good. But what they tell you is rooted in their fears.
Fears are contagious. If you’re not careful, you can catch someone else’s fear.
The fear, on the surface, looked like a fear of judgment or criticism.
What will people think?
But really it was a fear of loss.
If they think this, I will lose opportunities.
If I say this, then I will lose opportunities.
If I dress this way, then I will lose opportunities.
Fear of saying or doing the “wrong” silenced me. The belief that I had to be a certain way suffocated me.
I kept it all to myself. The struggles and the successes.
I stifled some of my best moments and biggest milestones, out of fear that people wouldn’t get it.
I played it safe. I played not to lose.
In playing not to lose, I lost big.
I lost the essence of what defined and differentiated me.
That’s how I lost my moxie.
Don’t worry. I got it back.