Trying something new

Life can be one continuous juggling act.

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It's been a month of courage, bravery and juggling for me.

I’ve been up to quite a few things. 

I hadn’t stepped foot on an aeroplane since 2014 for an abundance of reasons, one of which being fear. So, what do I go and do? I book a last-minute holiday to Europe. I’d love to say that was my only fear to conquer in the dawn of spring 2019. But oh no, trust me, trust Julie, I love to have more than one ball of fear juggling in the air.

I applied to be a Volunteer for the RSPCA. I applied to a Recruitment Firm. I applied for a role within a secondary school. Doesn’t this all sound exciting and self-empowering and motivational for someone who wants to return to mainstream employment? However, how about I throw in the curve ball that all of these roles required presentation and public speaking skills. Still, not so bad, surely.

Unless! I had a real personal fear at the thought of standing in front of a classroom or an event and speaking. So, god help me. What was I up to? Where was my safety net?

Through self-awareness journalling, learning to say no, and forging clear boundaries, I had come to realise, I've become quite the hypocrite in recent years. I wanted something, but my personal fears held me back. Over time fear had become my inner-critic and was telling me that the fear was there to protect me. However, my inner-coach was starting to shout: You can do it. Just try. The risk assessment part of my brain wanted to play it safe, listening to the voice of fear. Play it safe.

Maybe I am being a little harsh on myself, why should I call myself a hypocrite?

Well it all happened whilst sitting down to eat dinner with my children. I always like to sit and eat meals at the table as a family. Technology and phones are put away and it is our time to talk. Sometimes we don’t talk and simply eat. Over recent months I had noticed that the vegetables on my son’s plate would always be left at the end of the sitting. I would ask, “why aren’t you eating them?” At first, he would respond with saying he was too full. With more inquiry I found out that he had decided he just didn’t like them. I explained that I had noticed he had never touched the mushrooms, and he winced and said, “they look disgusting” and he knew he wouldn’t like them. I told him that I ate them all the time. I love mushrooms and the more times he tries them, the more chance he would grow to like them.


I realised, how can I say I am afraid of something when I have never truly tried it, and as with travelling on an aeroplane, I’d flown every year of my life since I was seventeen, but in recent years without the continual pattern of repeat, I had turned my experiences into a sense of fear. Fear of the risks, instead of focusing on the potential enjoyment - and if I default back to the mushrooms, what a healthy and nutritional value the experience may in fact have on both my body and my mind.

Through self-awareness journalling I have begun to recognise that my fear is not solely based upon opportunities within the unknown, sometimes I am aware that I might be able to do something but, I fear the potential risk of failure.

I was talking to a friend recently and we discussed how through experience, processes become natural, but we all certainly have to start somewhere, generally at the beginning and taking the first step.

Recently, as a volunteer with the Local RSPCA I attended an event with my children, we handed out leaflets, and I was allocated the position in promoting Spin the Wheel. There was no pressure, simply trust, I was there to help. I met and greeted new people. I provided a customer service, and I had a great time.   My appointed volunteer co-ordinator said, “I’ve been watching you, you’re a natural.” I smiled. I felt proud, and I took a deep-breath and replied, “I’m enjoying myself.” She smiled back. 

On reflection, I hadn’t placed any expectation on myself as the volunteer, I had been of the mind that I was simply helping and when I relaxed and stopped focusing on the what if and enjoy what simply is, experiences that I once talked myself out of, are actually lots of fun.  Who would have thought it even possible? I hadn’t.

Yes, I am juggling a number of new opportunities at the moment, and sometimes this is something people have to do, to find out: What is it that I want?  Yes, I did get on that aeroplane and I had the most amazing holiday.  Yes, I did get accepted to be registered with the recruitment agency. Yes, I did help out the RSPCA and will continue to do so at Promotional Events, because this charity sits well with my core values, and Yes, I did attend an interview to work in a secondary school and as part of the interview process I was asked to co-ordinate a classroom full of students and I survived - surprisingly to me - thrived.

I start my new part-time and permanent role next week. I am excited and terrified. It will all be very new. My inner-critic is on full rant. However, with a few deep breaths, breathing in, breathing out, and the knowing that the more opportunities I have to experience and practise, the easier the new chapter will be on both my body and my mind, I intend to enjoy every second.

Wish me luck.

A friend recently asked, “With all of these new activities, how will you continue to write?”

How do you think I responded to this question? 

Julie Spencer

Ambassador and Learning Support Assistant, Psychologies Magazine

Proud Ambassador for Psychologies Magazine. The magazine encapsulates many of my core values: being kind, have compassion, look after your health and wellbeing, be professional and be supportive of others. A little self belief can go a long way. I have studied as a mature student. I went into a writing frenzy and spent 3 years writing in solitude. I was a stay at home mum, too. What I learned: being alone for long periods of time is bad for your health and wellbeing. Thanks to a little nudge from Psychologies Magazine I am reconnecting and rebuilding my C.V. I'm a creative. I have lots of ideas and I need to constantly realign my focus onto one project at a time. Until recently I had a real fear for public speaking, but after reading a book that suggested I acknowledge my fears and challenge them anyway; with the support of the Psychologies community and more I'm working through my fears one blog at a time.