On Uncertainty.

uncertainty | kourtney thomas fitness

This past weekend I attended The Fitness Summit for the third time. I’ve always said that attending this particular conference has been a direct catalyst for change and growth, personally and professionally, ever since the first year I attended. And certainly, this year was no different, but in much different ways.

I had the opportunity to present this year, and while exciting, it was also a huge source of stress for me. Being one of only three women to present, and on the topic of women and hypertrophy, no less, weighed heavily on me for months. I wrote my speech six times over. I analyzed my material, what I knew of the audience, what I wanted to say, how I could or should present it. It’s a topic very, very close to my heart, and I felt immense pressure to deliver in a meaningful way.

Of course, some of that pressure was self-inflicted. I’ve always been one to set incredibly high standards for myself, and this was no different. And since I’ve set a goal for myself to do more speaking engagements, I was feeling it at a heightened level. Still, there was some unspoken, but very much present, external weight there too.

I’m used to dealing with pressure, and typically work well under its influence. I’m also pretty comfortable in the face of uncertainty, because I know that growth and change can come of it. It’s the first time in a long time, though, that I began to feel physically ill in the days leading up to my time on stage. All that creeping self-doubt reared its ugly head as I sat and watched the presenters the first day.

“What am I even doing here?!”

“How am I ever going to do this?!”

“Everyone is going to hate it, no one is going to get it.”

“I NEED TO REWRITE THIS WHOLE DAMN THING AGAIN!”

But I got up the next morning and did my thing. I didn’t do the thing as well as I wanted to, but I did the thing. Then, the weirdest thing happened.

Almost nothing.

I walked back to my seat, the next presenter started his presentation, and that was it. Just a few people here and there said something to the effect of, “good job,” but that was pretty much it. I was so hoping that I would enjoy a flood of relief. That I would have a feel of how it went, good or bad, pretty quickly. That some of that uncertainty would disappear. To my horror, I felt just as stressed and uncertain as I had for the last week. With every text from my friends and supporters asking how it went, all I could reply was: I don’t know.

What a feeling.

Uncertainty is something humans don’t love. And while I’m actually fairly unperturbed by it, and tend to approach rather than avoid, here I had been sitting in it for a couple of months, feeling a bit like I was wallowing and getting pruny in it. There’s a lot I had put aside for this time because of this feeling in the pit of my gut. I stopped writing. I stopped creating. I backed away from people and retreated inside myself quite a bit. It would seem a touch overreactive to some, but I’m going to say no to that. This opportunity and the situation it created were a big deal.

In the days following the Summit, I received countless messages, comments, texts, and emails that what I had said resonated. That it was a huge influence. That there were immediately useable takeaways. That this is a topic that needs to be talked about, now, more, and everywhere. Regardless of whether I’ll ever be able to talk about it in this forum again, I will now talk about it with confidence in every other medium and framework available to me.

Finally, from all that uncertainty about this one single event, came a rock-solid certainty about every single thing to follow it.

It’s not that I’ll never feel anxiety again in presenting or sharing this material, or some version of it. I’ll still put pressure on myself, I’ll still feel it externally. I might even indulge in some worry along the way. It’s not always productive, and I wouldn’t recommend putting your life on hold to give in to paralyzing self-doubt. But working your way through getting comfortable with some uncertainty? Yep, that I can get behind.

Putting myself into situations that make me feel a little freaked has never failed to deliver growth as a human. From big stuff like this, to riding a motorcycle, to small stuff like making a cold call, a little uncertainty can go a long, long way. If I had never fought through the insecurities I felt in attending this conference the very first year, I never would have taken all the steps I did to end up on the stage two short years later, affecting 150 fitpros and beyond.

And you know what? This isn’t a “do one thing a day that scares you” or a “lean into discomfort” kind of message. But it is a reminder that what’s on the other side of whatever has you feeling stress, pressure, or uncertainty, might be surprising. It might be good.

No, that’s not true. It will always be good, no matter what it is. There is no way that you won’t gain valuable life experience in every single thing you do, every decision you make, every uncomfortable, uncertain situation you find yourself in. And when it happens, take it. Use it. Turn it into certainty, so you can explore even more uncertainty.

Because really, all of life is uncertain, and that’s how we know we’re living it.


Let’s talk about all this living life stuff. Wanna? Do it with me here.

 

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