If You’re Thinking About Starting A Podcast, Read This
In 2010 I finally admitted to myself how unhappy I was. My life felt like a hamster wheel, and many times a day I found myself asking the question — “This can’t be my life for the rest of my life, can it?” I felt so stuck in my cubicle and 9-to-5 lifestyle, which depressed me and left me feeling unmotivated.
Full Name: Kïrsten Blake
City: Denver, CO
People asked me, “Well, what are you passionate about? What else would you want to do?” and I had no idea how to answer that question. But, when it was announced that my company was going to move me to a new department, it gave me the push I needed to quit.
Quitting my job was not the scary part — it was freeing.
Others around me seemed to be more concerned with my decision than I was. “Well, what are you going to do?!” they asked. When I responded with, “I don’t know,” you would have thought I told them that I’d just kidnapped their family and was holding them hostage. Oh, the horror! So, my first lesson in moving in an opposite direction from the norm was to learn how to let go of other people’s projections and fears. Learning to say —
your fear is not my fear, and I won’t allow it to be.
So, what did I do? I took some time off. I went and traveled to Costa Rica — a country where the culture is so different than the one I was living in New York City. Just being in that laid-back, carefree environment for a month centered me and reminded me that there are different ways to live.
I read books I had been meaning to read for years. I wrote down stream of conscious ideas. I talked to people about their life stories and really tried to listen from a new and different perspective. I cried. I pondered, contemplated and perseverated.
I talked to friends and family members about what my next steps should be. I started working in a vintage clothing store, because I always wondered if maybe that is what I should be doing. Turns out — it wasn’t, but now I know that.
For the first time in my life — I really allowed myself to just be free. To not be the perfect person who followed all the rules and worked her way toward a “successful” life.
I put myself in vulnerable positions.
To be in your thirties and go from being a “Knowledge Management Program Officer” in a well known non-profit to working retail was humbling. But it was only humbling because it forced me to really self-check my mindset and deeply question my limited definition of success. It was a process of really letting go of a useless paradigm and asking myself, not what do you want to do, but who do you want to BE?
All the while I was talking to people who had changed their careers in order to create their own constructed path in life, which was teaching me so much. I had all of these thoughts that I wanted to share and stories that I felt needed to be out in the world, but was not entirely sure how to do that.
I started to think that creating a website where I could share everything would be a next step, but this is where the fear came in — I was pretty terrified to expose myself in that way. It felt too vulnerable. I was worried that no one would read it.
Why would anyone want to read what I had to say?!
I was worried that people would respond with criticism and judgment. I was worried that it wouldn’t be any good. I was worried that there were already too many websites out there. How would mine be any different? I was worried about how I’d even do it?! I knew nothing about putting together a website!
I now understand, in retrospect, that those are all excuses — and excuses are just fear dressed up in acceptable clothing. But, they felt very real to me at the time.
I’ve been plagued with being a perfectionist all of my life (which is just another excuse not to do something). There were so many visually beautifully sites out there. I was no graphic designer and feared that no one would look at my site if it wasn’t of the same caliber as those sites.
For almost TWO years I pondered on this idea. My analysis paralysis was in full effect. I researched. I went to listen to speakers talk about writing/blogging/side projects/creative endeavors. I talked about it. I dreamed about it. I subscribed and listened to other podcasts. Everything but actually create it.
There were three experiences and two people that made me actually take the leap to put it all into action:
1) I came across this quote by Ira Glass:
2) I saw this image on Pinterest and kept it on my desktop so that I would see it EVERY day:
3) I went to a 1st Thursdays DUMBO Gallery Walk in the beginning of December 2012, where the artist and medium, Sharilyn Neidhardt, did a “divinatory consultation” for me out of cards that she made from photographs of signage around New York City. The intention of the cards was “to provoke subconscious feelings and ideas, which can then be discussed,” and the consultations “focused on psychological outcomes of the seeker, especially concerning artistic development and creative destiny.” I was super curious and eager to see what the experience would be like. The four cards that were laid out for me were STEAL, TIME, OPEN and THING. The first thing that Neidhardt said to me was, “You need to start. Whatever it is that you have been thinking about and thinking about, you need to stop thinking and just start creating.” I took it as a sign.
4) After I came up with a name for the site, Chapter Be, I realized I wanted a logo. I reached out to an old college friend, Kate Cunningham, who I knew worked as a graphic designer. As it would turn out, she was in the process of leaving her 9-to-5 job to start her own design business, and she said that she would love to help me out as one of her first independent projects! She gave me an incredible deal and worked with me to construct something that I would love. It set the scene for what I wanted the eventual site to look like and got me very excited about making it a reality. She treated me, and my endeavor, like a professional — which helped me see it in that light. To this day, I get compliments on my branding and that is all KATE!
5) Since I knew nothing about building a website, I contacted my friend Jason Mazza, who was the graphic designer at the “well known non-profit” job that I had quit. He had left the organization as well and was working as a freelancer. Jason was one of my friends who had been encouraging me to “just do it!” and was willing to help me make it happen. He sat with me and walked through what I wanted the site to look like — and then built out the site for me. Afterwards, he gave me lessons on how to use Wordpress. The truth is — Chapter Be would not exist if it weren’t for his encouragement, kindness and willingness to offer his skillset. I owe him a debt of gratitude for all he has done to help me get over my fear and make Chapter Be happen.
Kate and Jason taught me that if we want to get over a fear, sometimes we need to ask for help. Their assistance was paramount to helping me see that it was possible, and that
getting over my fear was just a matter of taking one small step at a time.
The first time I approached a complete stranger to ask her if she would be willing to be interviewed for Chapter Be — I was, again, terrified. While I was overcoming the fear of putting my writing and ideas online, I now had to face a new fear of asking strangers to be a part of it. In thinking deeper about these fears, though, they are actually the same fear — the fear of rejection.
When I asked that complete stranger to be a Chapter Be interviewee, and she so graciously said, yes — I left that event feeling so proud of myself. To some people it might have seemed like a simple task, but to me it represented me taking a step toward a new life and a new way of being. It was pushing me to do something that was scary and messy and not perfectly planned out. I was putting myself out there in a way that I had never done before.
Since then, I have asked over 200 people if they wanted to be interviewed about their BE story. Some said no and others have turned into life-long friends.
The more I heard no — the more I was comfortable with hearing it.
I am now so at ease with approaching strangers and talking to them, that it has become a skillset. I’m more comfortable at events where I know no one, and it has increased my curiosity and understanding that everyone has a story to share!
I faced this fear, yet again, in February 2015 when I decided to turn the long-form interviews into a podcast. Putting my voice out there brought up a whole new set of worries and unknowns. Teaching me that facing our fears does not mean that they necessarily go away — they just become easier to identify and work through.
Any advice for others who are afraid to do this?
My advice to others, who might be fearful about putting their creative endeavors out into the world out of fear of rejection, would be to stop looking at what others are doing and quit worrying about what others think. As Brene Brown says, “Comparison is all about conformity and competition…it is the killer of creativity.”
So…create for the sake of creating.
Even if you do not have the number of followers that you want.
Even if it is not perfect.
Even if you do not feel entirely ready.
Create because it does your soul good.
Create because your heart is telling you to.
Create because it will bring other unexpected surprises into your life.
Create because it will lead you to the answer of how do you want to BE in this world?
And if you are so inclined — share it with the world. We need more beauty, originality and authenticity surrounding us, and you can only add to that.
Let your desire to create override your fear of rejection.
Doing so has changed my life.