“What do you want to be, McCall? Where is that fire inside telling you to go?”
I was 18-years old and just weeks away from starting college. My mom and I were driving to orientation and talking about my future. It was one of those moments and conversations I will forever remember.
I wanted nothing more than to blurt out, “I want to be in front of people. I have a fire inside me, momma, to speak and help others. The fire is there. I’m not sure exactly what it is saying yet, but it is there.”
But instead, I shrugged my shoulders and mumbled, “I dunno. I’ll figure it out.”
It was the first time I vividly remember being muted by my eating disorder/inner critic.
It yelled in my ear, “You’re not good enough to stand out. People will think you are weird. You’ll be lucky if you fit in.” My eating disorder dulled my fire and stole my voice.
Fifteen years later, I am anything but ordinary. I do not fit in. I stand out. Not because I am a famous actress, but because I am me – authentically and unapologetically me.
I knew all along what I was meant to be and do; okay, maybe not exactly smashing scales and speaking about my eating disorder, but I knew in my soul that I had a calling. It took years of self-discovery and learning to listen to that fire inside to make my way here.
People often ask me, “How did you start speaking?” “How did you start Southern Smash?” Either they are curious or they too want to give back and pay it forward.
My answer is simple and probably leaves them uninspired. I tell them to follow that fire inside, that intangible thing that burns in your belly. It pulls you onto and along your path, but you have to allow it.
The fire is undeniably there, but so incredibly difficult to follow.
What if you fail? What if you fall? What if you don’t do it perfect? Or worst of all, what if people judge you?
I don’t have a how-to guide on how I got here or where I am going. Sometimes I wish I had a guide for the future endeavors I have on my Life To Do list – i.e. write a book. I mean, seriously, how does one write a book? It seems like such a daunting task.
I’ve had countless people tell me to write a book. And I want to write one. But what would I say? Never mind, that’s a dumb question. Clearly, I would not have trouble filling pages. The question is more along the lines of, “How am I going to overcome those critical gremlins telling me that I am not good enough?”
Answer: Just Do It.
Shit, Nike already copyrighted that. Okay, how about: Just Write It.
Yes, write. Simple enough, right? Write, right?
Aside from the gremlins that say I’m not good enough, it is also the daunting mountain of uncertainty.
Here is my pattern when something feels overwhelmingly difficult and my perfectionism kicks in: I put it on my Post-It note to do list and then find 1,385 other chores to do before getting to it. (AKA: Procrastination) It is amazing how clean my office and house become when I have something scary on that Post-It note.
The item remains on the to do list for months sometimes a year. It feels too big to tackle, but I want to cross it off so bad. I almost think the item will complete itself if I leave it on my neon post it note long enough.
NEWSFLASH: Things don’t get done just because they are on a Post-It. AND not everything belongs on a Post-It. Post-It notes are where desires go to die. I have learned I can’t put things I am afraid of on a Post-It, I simply have to dive in and do them. Post-It notes are for dry cleaning and OB/GYN appointment reminders, not for your life mission and goals.
I never put Southern Smash on a Post-It. I just took a massive leap of faith and followed my fire – just like I did with recovery. There were many people who did not understand what I was doing or why I was doing it, but I didn’t care. I had to do it. I HAD to follow my fire.
I knew well enough by then, that I could no longer ignore that fire in my soul. Southern Smash, speaking, writing. I had been silenced for so many years and was erupting with self-discovery. I wanted to share every minute of it.
Lately, I have found myself erupting once again. I want to write a book. I want to continue helping others and keep paying it forward. I want to keep living my life’s mission and fueling my fire within. I also want to meet Ellen Degeneres and Brene Brown, but I guess I’ll start with the book and put them on my Post-It for now.
We are all born with that fire inside. It is up to us to listen and answer it. No matter how many times we try to ignore it, it will keep erupting. Don’t be afraid to go out and chase that dream, follow that passion and fire.
So there you go, Momma. Eighteen years later I have an answer to your question. The fire within has been burning for years and is now erupting. There is no stopping it or containing it.
Well, I guess there is nothing left to say except…