Are You Holding Yourself Back?

Are you holding yourself back? Do you keep yourself where you are because you are afraid of failing, becoming a different person, or growing away from those closest to you? Do you stay comfortable rather than pushing yourself? I have spent most of my life holding myself back or only allowing myself to advance to a level that won’t offend anybody else.

It’s quite stupid, but I can see this just in the stuff I buy. I have a few flashy brand name things, but most of the time, I try to limit the flashiness of what I spend money on, so I don’t look like I’m better than those around me. For instance, my husband and I talked about our furniture the other day, and he mentioned that our dressers and nightstands looked cheap compared to our bed frame. I felt like I was slapped in the face. But that’s not what he meant. He was merely stating that our bed frame shows that it cost more than the others. This also plays itself out with a shoe rack I have by our garage door. I spent less than $30 on the faux wood thing and it is falling apart. If we wanted to move it somewhere, the only place it would be moving is the trash. I keep doing this. I want something new, but I don’t want to spend a fortune on it, so I get something cheap that doesn’t last as long. I mean, our dressers will last, and the nightstands are handmade and will last, but they do look different than our bed. I don’t want people to walk in my house and see things and think that I’m rich or something, which I’m not. This is most definitely something that stems from being raised super poor.

That’s just an example of one part of life where I keep holding myself back. I hold myself back at work or with the relationships I keep. I also do it with this podcast. I’ve been recording and posting these episodes, but I’ve only shared with one person that they exist. I have held my personal and emotional growth back because of fear. I want to dive into this one next.

With the personal development that I do, I work on my emotions and who I am quite a lot. At least, right now I am. It hasn’t always been that way. I got to a point that I was focusing on my long-term health or professional growth more than anything else. Why? Because I was afraid to grow away from my husband and my friends. I have been afraid that I would lose my husband and my friends if I grew into the woman I want to be. I held myself back. 

Thankfully, I finally talked to my husband about this fear. He was shocked. He had no idea that I had been grappling with it. He didn’t understand it, but after a lot of discussion, he acknowledged it and we have a plan to continue to discuss this fear as I grow. But with my friends, I don’t know how to talk to them about it. I don’t know how to participate in the conversation anymore. I’m lost. But I’ve stopped holding myself back and I’m pretty sure that is why I’m lost.

As for holding myself back with work, I’ve been doing that for a while, but I’ve also been advancing. To most people on the outside, I haven’t been holding myself back. A few years ago, I was working insane hours for a company that refused to pay me for the work that I was doing. I had a functional manager and my people manager. My functional manager and the project managers and directors that I worked with frequently told me, “don’t forget us little guys when you are a VP.” I laughed at them and said that would never happen. When I got fed up with not getting paid what I was worth and for the work I was doing, I left. Since then, I’ve heard “don’t forget us little guys” a couple of more times. I refused to believe that I would ever get to that point. I take on challenges and make shit happen, but there was no way I would ever be a ladder climber. I didn’t think it was possible for me. Why? I have no idea.

And then I received the promotion to director within less than a year of being at my current company. I was shocked. I’m being recognized for the work that I’m doing and the contribution I’m making to the mission. Within a couple of months of my promotion I heard, “and if you want to sit here at the table next to me as Vice President of Operations….” I was flabbergasted. I had no idea that the executive team thought that I could actually achieve that promotion one day. Hell, I didn’t think I actually could. 

That statement turned my life upside down. Who am I? What do I want? Do I really want to get to that level? Do I have what it takes? What does Eddie think? How will this affect my life? Who the hell would actually think I’m good enough to be a VP? 

That was only some of what ran through my head. And after a lot of introspection and emotional work and multiple conversation with Eddie, I came to a realization: I’ve been holding myself back.

Eddie told me that he has always seen how ambitious I am and he would be surprised if I don’t ever get to that level. Sigh, I love Eddie. He see’s my ambition and potential more than I do. He not only see’s it, he see’s it much earlier than I do. So if he see’s it, why don’t I? Because I hold myself back and limit myself in fear of offending others in any way.

How do I move past holding myself back? Little by little. Haha, are you tired of hearing that yet? I have started by questioning what I really want. I’ve been exploring my ambition and what it means to me. I’ve been communicating openly with Eddie. I’ve been looking at what pursuing what my ambition draws me to would mean for my life, now and in the future. I’ve been meditating on who I am and what I want out of life. I’ve been reducing the stressful inputs in my life. I’ve been slowly standing up for what I want and leaning into who I am, regardless of who I am around.

Now that I’ve realized that I’m holding myself back, I feel so free to dream and open my mind to the possibilities. I plan to continue on my reflection and exploration now and into the future. Every quarter I revisit my goals, I am going to revisit how I might be holding myself back. I have a lot of work to do, but it will be so worth it. 

So I ask you again, are you holding yourself back?

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