My Open Letter to Women Afraid to START

Jenna Kutcher 

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June 16, 2021


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Dear reader who has a big, scary, compelling, butterfly-inducing idea on your heart… but you’re not sure how to start or what it looks like to reach your end goal:

Fear feels like a person, right? Like we might feel like sometimes it’s in the driver’s seat of our car, in total control, or sometimes it’s giving us outdated Garmin GPS directions (“calculating route…”), or sometimes it’s changing the radio station and the voices we hear… but it’s almost always a passenger of some kind, present, plugged-in, a part of the journey. 

I’ve given a lot of power in my life to fear, and it’s shown up with many different faces and voices over the years. It’s been that quiet fear that knocks on my chest, whispering things like “but… what if THIS happens? Remember… last time?” I’ve also experienced it more than enough times as an overwhelming fear that paralyzes me in my place. 

But here’s the deal-slash-disclaimer: fear isn’t necessarily bad. Fear from falling off a cliff keeps me safe and away from the edge, right? Fear can be a quick poke from the hand of wisdom that says, “Hey, just lookin’ out for ya.”

But I have to admit that an overcorrection from fear, worry churning into anxiety, or letting how the past played out inform how I see the present— turn what could be a great thing for me to reach for into what feels like sticking my hand in front of the mouth of a viper. It has held me back from taking steps I KNOW I want or need to take, making me, well, stay stuck. Stay still. 

The thing is, I’m sure I’ll feel that familiar fear in my chest in some way for lots of pieces of my life. That’s just the reality and gift of being an alive human being — I’m thinking that has always been the case for our species. And the truth is, I’m getting comfortable with this passenger, but only since I’ve learned how I am able to put her in her place. Easier said than done, of course. But it’s possible. She can sit right next to me, but she will not grab hold of the wheel again. As realistic as fear showing up in our lives is, whether for good reasons or not, it doesn’t have to be in control. It should not be your main source of guiding light. It is not the needle on your compass. It does not need to be a massive burden that keeps us from doing what we want to do. Life’s way too darn short for that. I know you likely feel the same way.

Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not knowing the next steps, fear of messing up along the way, fear of being seen while we’re messing up. Like what would we actually do if we went for our biggest dreams and then lo and behold… we failed? It didn’t work! It didn’t pan out like we thought. Whether it’s by our own hand or not, wanting something BIG, MEANINGFUL to us, and REAL and potentially not getting to have it or losing it once we do… might make us be afraid to want it at all.

On the other hand, what if we went for our big hopes and dreams… and they came true? I’ve actually polled hundreds of women and found that we tend to be just as afraid of success as we are of failure. 

Fear is that fork in the road that stops so many of us from following our dreams because we’re afraid to choose a path. From making huge changes in our lives, and from becoming who we really want to be, deep down. Fear is that step over the line of ‘no going back’ that so many of us are scared to cross over the threshold, because the other side is uncertain, unknown, uncharted. 

If you’re nodding your head along with me, because you get it, I promise you so, so much that I understand in a million ways.

So, to you as you are in the middle of the waiting, hoping for a sign to jump into the next thing, to stop stalling at the fork in the road and pick the path that has been pulling at your attention, and if you just so happen to fall in this “afraid of starting” category, this is what I hope you know:

You crashed into this world from a cozy, cozy spot somewhere within your mother. I say this as a reminder, really, that the first action we all ever took on this earth was leaving a comfortable, protected nest to face the world head on. How wild and beautiful and weird and unbelievable and totally normal is that? 

It’s brave, regardless of whether or not you had the choice or if you remember those first moments. 

Then. You grew up. Little by little. You faced really wonderful moments, and I’d bet that you faced some significantly hard ones. In fact, you might feel like your life has thus far been a whole late-night-infomercial-worthy 12-CD-set collection of really tough moments. You’re. Still. Brave. Regardless of whether or not you had the choice. 

You were brave anyway. You’ve been brave every step of the way. That’s why you’re still here.

I hope you’ll hit play on this episode to hear the full letter I’ve written and read to you, the person poised and waiting at the starting line, waiting for the telltale signal, the shouting ‘go!’ that sets you on your way to the something you’ve been waiting to start.

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Before you get any further... Hi! I'm Jenna Kutcher!

A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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