New Goal for the Year: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

by | Mar 9, 2020 | Mindset

Recently, I realized that I am incredibly uncomfortable being uncomfortable. Not on the bike or the run—there, I can handle A LOT of discomfort. I’m talking about in my head, and specifically, when people have any kind of disagreement with me, or even fight around me.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen a tweet from me a couple weeks ago about how I was followed by an ebiker and it made me super uncomfortable.

It set off a surprising firestorm of people talking, and while most people agreed with me that this case was weird/aggressive behavior, a few decided that I was in the wrong. That’s a whole other article (and you can read it here), but the point in this article is that despite 99.9% of people agreeing with me, my cortisol skyrocketed, my heart rate soared, and I got super anxious about the couple of ruder responses.

It’s an actual physical reaction that I have, and it’s one that I really want to work on this year. Most of the time, I’m absolutely fine.

Being someone who puts words out onto the internet on a daily basis for a living, you’d think I’d be used to it. But the truth is, I’m not. It turns me into a bowl of jelly. And even when I know I stand behind what I said and feel entirely in the right, it doesn’t change the sinking feeling, the rapid pulse or the stomachache that ensues.

This is a little embarrassing to put out into the world, but I was recently watching the Taylor Swift documentary on Netflix while doing my morning core routine (don’t judge) and she talked about how crappy it felt to read about people hating her on Twitter. At first, I kind of scoffed and had the petty thought of ‘when you have a billion dollars, how bad can you possibly feel?’ But then, as a couple of people (out of 600+ who favorited or liked this particular tweet) got pissed at me or told me I was wrong for some reason, holy crap, I had a rough time with it. Even right now, writing this, my mouth is dry, my pulse is racing, and I feel like I can hear blood rushing in my ears. And that’s from a couple of people arguing with me. Suddenly, I have a lot more empathy for basically any celebrity, and an overwhelming urge to never want to be one, to never want to say anything that might start some kind of argument.

At the same time, if no one is disagreeing with you on anything, are you saying very much?

So, in my long list of goals for 2020, I’m adding a new one: Be more OK with people not agreeing with me. I’m still not planning on getting into a bunch of Twitter battles, but I am going to try to be more comfortable when I do say something that could lead to arguments… and work on my physical reaction to it.

By the way, I did end up writing a full story about the drafting incident over on Bicycling. And while, as one man pointed out, the people who needed to read it likely won’t (or if they do, will dismiss it), it felt good to get onto a larger platform and actually speak up. Sure, I was still a little high-strung when it did go up, and no matter how many kind comments and shares I got, the couple mean ones still make me a little knotted up. But it felt like a step in the right direction—I was tempted to simply mute the initial tweet and go back to my regularly scheduled programming, but I didn’t. And for that, I’m pretty proud. Going forward, I want to do more of that… While focusing on trying to not get stressed out every time I check my phone. Even if I do stand by something that makes some people angry, I want to be able to stand for things and not feel that sinking feeling because I’ve made someone else disagree with me. (Seth Godin, conveniently, did this post the day that tweet was garnering a lot of responses.)

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