TGIF: A Manifesto for Wimps, Dreamers, What-if Junkies and Procrastinators.

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On staying small, man-boobs and looking fear in the eye.

I learned a new word today: frisson.

Frisson means “a sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear.”

Read that again.

A sudden strong feeling of excitement or fear.

Interesting that one word could capture such bipolar emotions.

Excitement or Fear?

Have you ever been at the threshold of doing something so important, so life-altering, so history-making, you felt a rush of energy surge through your body?

Have you ever been at the precipice of:
- Writing your first screenplay?
- Signing up for your first half-marathon?
- Embracing self-employment?
- Writing your first poem/song/haiku since high school?
- Baking a piecrust from scratch?
- Starting a non-profit?
- Hijacking your honey with a knee-buckling kiss?
- Lobbying for government?
- Seriously considering adoption?

If you haven’t, here’s what tends to happen: You bite your lower lip. Decapitate the back of your pencil. Pace up and down your living room in your frayed Betty Boop boxers. Shake your legs so aggressively that you begin to levitate like a helicopter. Click the back of your pen like a crazy who chugged a 6-pack of Red Bull.

One minute you’re thinking, “Psssh … that fool’s got nothing on me. I could totally do that!”

And the next minute, almost like clockwork, you are hit by a “frisson” of fear.

Like a piano catapulted from the 13th floor.
SMASH! 

A sumo wrestler made you his bean bag.
BLAT!

An ant inched towards your Krispy Kreme.
CRUNCH!

Suddenly, you find yourself in a face off with the biggest baddest hairiest bully. He’s wearing a leather vest and has a serious case of man boobs. You squint to read an indecipherable tattoo across his chest. Your mouth goes dry. It spells F.E.A.R. 

Just like that, your plans to become a professional banjo player, find a cure for cancer and work for NASA are thwarted.

If any of this sounds familiar, grab a chair or a cocktail and make yourself comfortable.

Should I go Pro? 

I turned thirty this year and I’m finding myself at a crossroads. The way I see it, I have two choices.

My first (easy) option is to bumper car my way through life. To stay in the amusement parks with child-proof zones in my relationships and my career. You know, one minute I’m zooming along making perfect figure eights. The next minute, I’m getting rear-ended by a toothless 8 year old. Sure: feeling safe and risk-free is comforting most of the time. But life gets so mind-numbingly predictable I get by on cruise control.

My second (much harder) hairier option is to “Go Pro.” To really step into my calling as a creator of art, a seeker of justice and a storyteller. To experience and express the fragility and beauty of the human condition in an authentic way, I know it would take a lethal trifecta of strategy, sacrifice and support. Need all three to outwit good ol’ Man-boobs. And I don’t have them. So I stand on the fence with the rest of the Wimps, Dreamers, What-if Junkies and Procrastinators, killing time on: Facebook, Pinterest and TED. I sit on the sidelines and watch other people “Go Pro.”

I stay small because … 

What if I leap and I’m brilliant/magnificent/world changing? Then what?!

I stay small because … 

What if I can’t be a good spouse/daughter/friend/citizen of the world on the other side of success?

I stay small because … 

With great power comes great responsibility, right?

I stay small because … 

What if I turn into a selfish monster who milks her moment in the spotlight and forgets the little people?

I stay small because…

What if I turn into a jerk who forgets my friend’s birthdays, anniversaries and graduations? (And no one comes to visit me at the old folks home?)

I stay small because … 

What if I spend my whole life missing the point? I hear success is overrated.

I stay small because … 

I’m afraid of the duration of the leaping. How long do I have to be dedicated to my craft before I make serious headway?

I stay small because …

I’m scared to rock the boat. My pseudo comfortable life feels…safe. Frustrating but safe.

I stay small because… 

What if I never create something awe-inspiring, profound or beneficial?

I stay small because … 

What if I spend my whole life working hard only to discover that … I’m not special.

And yet …
And yet …
And yet …

There is an inexpressible ravenous hunger devouring my insides like a raging ulcer.

There is a faint memory of a dream/hallucination/light summoning me to be brave, stand tall and speak up.

There is an inner moan pleading to break the shackles of mediocrity, pummel the fort of apathy and stare down the barrel of fear.

I don’t have the answers, but I hope to figure it out with you, my dear dumplings.

In the next couple of weeks, I’d like to challenge my fears, dissect my assumptions about privilege and purpose and aggregate strategies for powering through.

My hope is that in being an open book about my life, you will gain some insights into your own journey.

This comic by Leah Pearlman at Dharma Comics explains it so perfectly!

I am writing this manifesto for Wimps, Dreamers, What-If Junkies & Procrastinators. I am writing this manifesto for myself.

To stop wimping out. To start dreaming. To start probing the what-ifs. To stop procrastinating. To STOP staying SMALL. And START playing BIG.

I want to experience life in all it’s frisson-filled glory. I want to look back at this moment and marvel at where it all started. Where I started, where you started and where we started.

Who wants to give Man-Boobs an atomic wedgie?

HUZZAH!

_____________________________________________________

So my luscious juicy pears, I’d love to do this *together.* 

I’m dying to know:

  1. What makes you stay small?
  2. When was the last time you were truly content?

Love you more than a Roasted Strawberry, Brie and Chocolate Grilled Cheese,

xoxo,
Teen

To read more TGIFs from Tina: Click here.

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Tina Francis
My name is Tina. Loved ones call me: Teen. Words are my chocolate. Music, my caramel. Photography, my bread. Girlfriends, my butter. Confession: Some girls dream about Manolo Blahniks or their next Hermes bag. Not me. I dream of freshly baked bread, perfectly barbecued meat & steaming bowls of Pho. My dream lover *cue Mariah Carey song* is someone who would read out a menu to me in Barry White’s baritone voice. I celebrate food, ask for help, interrupt conversations, laugh and cry hard, acknowledge the elephant in most rooms, fight for the underdog and believe in the power of storytelling. I was born and raised in Dubai and currently live in the beautiful city of Vancouver, known for some of the best sushi in the world.
Tina Francis
Tina Francis

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Tina Francis
  • http://twitter.com/CarisAdel Caris Adel

    Can I just say yes to all of the above? haha. You’ve explained how I feel perfectly, and yet I feel God calling me to more…..I had this same wrestling at the beginning of the year and it was basically like he was saying, you were made to write, so obey and do it, or don’t even bother following me, if you don’t actually want to follow. Gulp. So I jumped in, and now I’m getting a dream of some more specific things, and it’s so scary to just do it. To sit day in and day out and just work consistently. I’m horrible at that.

  • http://sacredeveryday.ca/ Jenn

    Oh yes…I love that old fence. I’m scared that it’ll change my life (like that’s a bad thing?), It’s easier to just keep going in my comfortable routine, I mean after all I barely have time to do the laundry….how could I have time for anything important?

    I love that cartoon!

  • Amy Englemark

    Tina, You are so absolutely wonderful and your articles are SO funny to read. Don’t worry, I get the serious points too! I am ready to grab (with you) one side of fear’s undies and yank hard upwards with you. I’ll commit to it over this next Fall season. Whoo!

  • Sanu

    time after time, you tug at my heart strings teen.
    What makes you stay small?
    something keeps holding me back, “asking really me?”, I get scared to share and explore and leap and most of all “accept my blessings”. I am truly thankful for every blessing and this year has truly been a huge one, but acceptance is a challenge, which turns into me hiding away.
    When was the last time you were truly content?
    During my kili experience my life was full and fulfilled as I was leading life with a huge purpose and it truly filled my soul…. now I am search for my purpose again…. I know what I have to…. kind off… now going to leap with each step with you Teen*holding onto your hand tight*

  • http://www.kathyescobar.com/ kathyescobar

    love!!

  • Sherry Naron

    You can say things in the BEST way Teen! Its so hard to break away from the things that make us stay small. I find myself “studying” those that have broken through wondering what they’ve found that I still need to find. Is it a stronger faith, self-confidence, bravery? Is it a different and more encouraging & equipping environment? Is it your very own personal cheerleading section? I’m asking too and searching….I don’t know if there ever was a time that I felt completely content in where I am – I feel God has so much more for me. And then I question…is the fact that I’m not “there” yet my fault, or wrong timing, or needing to learn something else? Or are we ever supposed to feel “content” in where we are? I am content with myself but not where I am in life often, is that acceptable? I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there!

  • http://www.redemptionsbeauty.com/ Shelly Miller

    Love this, all of it but especially the way you describe staying small. It resonated with me, a sacred echo of things I read today actually. Don’t want to follow the crowd. At. All.

  • Holly

    I think, my dear Tina, that if we could simply link arms, skip down the street and take a big deep breath of “Yes”, well…I think I could do just about anything. Your manifesto makes me want to figure it out. Together.

    • http://twitter.com/teenbug Tina Francis

      Now that we are Facebook official, I believe that we will truly link arms, skip down the street and exhale deep breaths of “yes” in two part-harmony.

      My flippin’ manifesto makes me want to figure out too! #@^%$@ I don’t want to feel stuck anymore.

      Thank you for saying yes to figuring it out together.

      Hugs my Hols.

  • fiona lynne

    “I’m afraid of the duration of the leaping.” This one slapped me round the face. Eek, I feel sometimes like I could sign on for a little hard work, but if it takes a LOT of hard work? Then I start whining about how this was never meant to be so difficult, that it’s not what I imagined, it’s too big, too hard. But the staying small is giving up. And I’m not quite ready to give up. Even if I’d much rather eat strawberry, brie and chocolate grilled cheeses on the sofa and not work too hard…

  • http://www.facebook.com/cara.switzer Cara Switzer

    I think what keeps me small is not really believing, at bottom, that I can accomplish something worthwhile. I know God works through me, etc., but that doesn’t mean I can’t still screw it up somehow! Also, as others have commented, the actual work involved in leaping often seems too hard. For me, it’s easier to pretend I have NO idea what God might want me to undertake and refuse to considering changing until I have a crystal clear mandate with step by step instructions. In reality, I have some vague ideas what he MIGHT be calling me to do and if I started actually doing the work, I would probably learn more!

  • Sarah Silvester

    What makes me stay small? It’s safer. When you stand out, you get attacked. Unfortunately. Haters gonna hate and all that. I think fear of people and people pleasing go hand in hand with this stuff. And I sooooo hear you on the “What if I spend my whole life working hard only to discover… I’m not special”. I think we’d risk the first people fearing/pleasing stuff a whole lot quicker if we knew we were guaranteed an academy award/grammy/nobel peace prize 40 years on. And that’s where we confront the “ravenous ulcer”. Are we willing to do it, for ourselves, for God, just because we know we need to, and for no promise of any return beyond feeding the hunger inside us? Too many of us aren’t (me included, yet) and we make a million excuses – thanks for your courage, and for calling us out to AWAKE! I need the manifesto… would print it out and stick it on my wall. Go Tina! xo

  • http://www.facebook.com/pixie.jsnsj Glenis Bisset

    What makes me stay small….. I think a lot has to do with the fact that I may not be good enough, what if I fail, what if I do succeed – what then, Am I being selfish in wanting to grow this thing… generally the whole ‘man-boobs’ thing :(
    I was reading along quite happily until I realised that I was reading about ‘me’ too – thanks for turning what we/I feel into words! :)

    I anticipate (I think?!) what comes next in helping to build courage etc… :)

    Thanks heaps Tina!

  • Meg

    i stay small by considering myself under-qualified, unworthy of attention, and by giving God a list of people i’m positive could do it better than i could. but enough of that. i’m ready to stop wimping out. can’t wait to dig deeper into this manifesto. genius post my dear. so excited to hear more!

  • http://www.facebook.com/unathi.gumanjingolo Unathi Babalwa Guma-Njingolo

    SO much to say, too much. So much to expose should I choose to answer the first question. The last time I was content, I cannot remember. This due to the reason I will not give for number one. Can I reblog this somehow?

    • http://twitter.com/teenbug Tina Francis

      Unathi, you mysterious woman you! You are killing me. :)

      I’m not sure what you mean by “reblog”. If you mean share, then just use the FB and Twitter buttons.

      If you mean you would like to blog your response to this post, I guess you could write a note and just reply to this thread. I’d loooove to read about your journey. I feel like I *know* you but I don’t know you through Twitter.

      I want to hear more of your story! Stop censoring yourself. Just say it. I won’t bite. I promise. :)

      xoxo,
      Teen

  • signature

    I once stayed small….
    but my soul kept on longing for a purpose i couldn’t find by being conventional, i stayed small until i cried my heart out and decided i was going to be the mad hatter and wonder all i want like Alice. On my way now and i don’t feel so small anymore :)

    thanks for this, i related to it so well! xxx

    • http://twitter.com/teenbug Tina Francis

      “..and decided I was going to be the mad hatter and wonder all I want like Alice.”

      I LOVE THIS and YOU! Thank you for inspiring me to embrace my Mad Hatter self and “wonder all I want like Alice”. xox

  • http://www.emergingmummy.com/ Sarah Bessey

    Love this, Teen. xo

    • http://twitter.com/teenbug Tina Francis

      Thanks for being such a great example of how to be fearless, S. I learn so much from you.

      xoxo,
      Teen

  • http://twitter.com/MelissaFedd Melissa Fedd

    I make cautious decisions b/c I am terrified of wasting the time of my children…Desperate to tell good stories too though….Or more so..to live a good story.

    • http://twitter.com/teenbug Tina Francis

      Melissa, my friend, if your heart wants to (craves to) live a good story, I think you *should* live a good story. ;)

      It doesn’t always look like lobbying for government (although it may). I think it means bringing your fabulous, creative, precious, silly self to the ordinary moments of life. I think it means doing what you do and sharing it with your loved ones and your sphere of influence, even when it feels like having to be vulnerable.

      I don’t know your story so it’s hard to really speak into something specifically. But I think your gorgeous children would also reap the fruits of a Mama who is engaging her gifts with passion. I know there are seasons for everything and we can grow weary and restless. But I say fan that flame, don’t let the dream die. God may reshape your dream. It may look slightly different than you originally imagined but it’s still there. I believe.

      Bear hugs,
      Teen

  • http://teamaidan.wordpress.com/ Heather Bowie

    Can I love this post and fear it at the same time for all the truth it holds? Man-boobs and wedgies – I’m taking that image with me to my next hard thing.

    • http://twitter.com/teenbug Tina Francis

      You and me both, Heather. I’m not sure I what I’ve started. Ha-Ha.

      Glad the “man-boobs and wedgie” image works for you. :)

  • http://twitter.com/graceappears Elizabeth Marshall

    I love the bold and the brave of your heart here. Thanks for the invitation to press on with our art, our words, with you and your gifts of encouragement. Press on brave, press on burying timidity in the dust. Washing that stinker fear down the drain. :)

    • http://twitter.com/teenbug Tina Francis

      Thank you for calling out boldness and braveness in me. I needed that. Thank you sister. xoxo

  • Jay Potter

    I wrote my response here: http://enterthesilence.blogspot.com/

    In fact it was because of this post that I started a new blog at all.

    Thank you from a life long procrastinator.

    • http://twitter.com/teenbug Tina Francis

      Oh my goodness, Jay! Wow.

      I’m so (flattered/humbled/moved) and proud of you for taking that big step.
      *high five brother*
      Here’s to learning and getting off our butts together.

  • http://twitter.com/neritia neritia

    So today you taught me a new word too…this frisson one! I like how it rolls over my lips…! Ffffrrrrrisson!

    I can’t wait for this journey with you – your boldness makes me wish I was 10 years younger – and doing the tango with FRISSON!

    What keeps me small: (a) the duration of the leap and (b) what if I suck at it, everyone (no I don’t know who everyone is) laughs at me because I had the audacity to think I can so c) I just stay put and wait for others to do it because where I am right now I know!

    Truly content – well, what comes to mind is…It’s a Long Way to Tipperary…it’s a long way to go!

    • http://twitter.com/teenbug Tina Francis

      Haha Neri-pie.

      Oh howwww, I wish I could somehow hear the audio of your saying “Ffffrrrrrisson!” :)

      I’d like to see my boldness evolve and not just be words.

      I want new eyes (for me + you) to see the world and myself how God sees me.

      Full of potential. Full of beauty. Full of life.

      God doesn’t see age as a barrier. Pretty sure God would say, “Decade-Schmecade, my vibrant Neri. I’ve been marinating you for such a time as this.” :)

      Hugs!! xoxo

  • http://www.leighkramer.com/ HopefulLeigh

    Oh, Tina. This has left me in tears. I needed, needed, needed to hear this. I, who have felt that frisson before, who has made crazy leaps of faith without a second thought, stand at this very precipice right now. And now…with fear and trembling and a healthy dose of awe, I’m going to jump again. No more hesitation or hemming and hawing. I know my new calling and I will not let fear hold me back another minute. Thank you!

    • http://twitter.com/teenbug Tina Francis

      Oh, sweet Leigh. I’m sitting with you in your tearful frisson-filled moment chanting “Leap! Leap ! Leap! Don’t waste another moment.”

      My one word for 2011 was “leap”. It changed my life.

      I went on a life-altering road trip. I ran my first half-marathon. I made a sick amount of new friends. I helped raise $43,600 for my sisters in Uganda. I went on dates. I read great books. I ate delicious food. I got out of debt. I debated life’s deep philosophical questions over Skype. I bought a wicked camera. I shot my beautiful girlfriend’s wedding. I charged what I deserve. I wore red lipstick. I cut my hair. I got a promotion. I wore thigh-hugging running capris (cringe). I spoke up in meetings. I found my voice. I wrote a column that helped me find healing.

      So…lean into the frission.

      xoxo,
      Teen

  • Erin Wilson

    What makes me stay small is focusing on the outcome of my actions. When I can keep my focus on developing my craft, feeding my creativity, fanning my passions, and serving along the way… when I swim in the deep end with everything that I’ve got, I usually find that I wind up in a pretty amazing place.

    • http://twitter.com/teenbug Tina Francis

      The swimming analogy is pretty accurate for me, given that I don’t know how to swim. Hehe. So yes, big fear in the deep end.

      I’ve been seeing this Pin floating around on Pinterest. “Acting without expectation” I think that nails the core of what you are saying.

      Another SUPER important point you made is “serving along the way”… So true.

      Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts, Erin.

      You should know that your life, your choices and the specific ways in which you serve are so inspiring to me. Just thought you should know that.

      xoxo

  • http://twitter.com/Shereiner Stacey Brown

    Oh yeah” although I have another decade on you, I am waking to the same issues. The burning question is not what if I fail, so much as what if I succeed? Failing is so easy! In fact, it is expected… Success? Whole ‘nuther story! Thanks so much for this inspiring post.

    • http://twitter.com/teenbug Tina Francis

      Thanks for reading and sharing a part of your journey Stacey.

      I’d really like (both of us) to be able to channel our curiosities and our gifts in the ways that God designed us for. I believe. xoxo

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  • Anna

    Tina, finding this article couldn’t have come at a better time! Everything here hits the nail on the head for me…it kinda scares me but in a good way;) I’m at a crossroads in my career and have been a wimp/procrastinator on the sidelines watching everyone else “go pro”.

    I feel small because I compare myself to the seasoned pros in the field and think, “I’m never gonna be that good. Why would they give me a chance?” I feel small because I’m thinking of transitioning into a different career and I’m scared I’ll drown in these uncharted waters.

    Thank you for this boost! God’s timing is impeccable:)

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  • Stephina

    You have done it again Tina! This is a brilliant piece! Definitely got me thinking about my life and where I stand. Thank you for the truth :)

    love,
    Stephina

  • http://twitter.com/B_Gayon Gayon Bramwell

    Tina! This post is “Olympic”! It’s the term I’ve stolen and presented at any occasion, moment, or idea that I come across to convey the sentiment of “going beyond the status quo.” I FEEL this post so much in my life and completely understand the word frisson so much it scares me.

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