You’re not alone if you occasionally feel like you fade into the background. For Joan, it’s feeling like vanilla ice cream. Translation: you’re going along in life, doing okay, making progress, getting things done, and you suddenly realize you can do more. Joan recently realized for her, just getting things done was not enough. In order to go where she wanted in life, she need to spice it up a little. For her, that meant getting vulnerable. Do you have what it takes to get vulnerable? It can be tough and put you “out there” for all to see, but you may be helping others in your authenticity.

Joan talks about her next big project and how she breaks through her vanilla.

Joan: In the past few months, two major publishing houses have shown an interest in publishing the book I am planning to write. Most writers spend their entire life working for the kind of opportunities that have been presented to me, so I do not take these blessings lightly.

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Words usually flow out of me like a river, but every time I attempt to write this book, I am dry. Nothing of significance gets put on paper.

I wrote a few chapters and submitted them to one publisher, only to realize afterward that they were terrible (not her words, she was too kind, but mine). I wrote about my journey, my life, like I was an objective observer, a newspaper reporter stating the facts of an event; not as someone who was thrust into darkness and climbed out of it to share the story.

Q. What do you think was holding you back, especially because you have been open about your life?

Joan: Well, I admit, the thought of actually writing a book terrifies me. The negative voices swirl round and round in my head: What if the readers don’t like it? Who am I to write a book? Who would care about what I have to say? What if people laugh at me?

Q. Is that not what all writers think? (I know I feel that way.)

Joan: I do understand the importance of releasing such thoughts, and I have never let fear keep me from trying something new. It is my philosophy to push aside what others think, throw caution to the wind, and “go for it.”

Q. So, what’s different this time? What’s stopping you?

Joan: I have racked my brain for months trying to put my finger on the problem. Then it dawned on me that it isn’t the fear of failure that is blocking me, but rather my unwillingness to reveal a deep part of myself, my unwillingness to be vulnerable, my unwillingness to step out from the pack.

For most of my life, my identity has been based on my strength, my ability to be in control. I take care of others. I handle situations with nerves of steel. I am the energizer bunny – I keep going and going and going. If I reveal my vulnerability, as this book challenges me to do, I will show a part of myself with which I am uncomfortable. I will be flawed…exposed…human. Am I ready for that?

Q. That’s a great question. Who is ever ready for that? But do we limit ourselves with that thinking?

Joan: That’s what I’m working on now. I am most comfortable somewhere in the middle of life – not blending into the woodwork and not swinging from a star. I am, what many may call, vanilla ice cream.

Writing this book presents me with the chance to make a difference in someone’s life, but in order to do so I must be willing to be authentic, open, and rise above the mediocrity. A true challenge… but a worthy endeavor.

So, after much self-examination, I’m writing again. This time with a very different approach; I’m writing from a place of truth, vulnerability and humility. Who knows where this challenge will lead me but it will definitely be an interesting ride.

The moral of this story: If you want to achieve something worthwhile in life, if you want to fulfill a dream or reach for the stars, you must be willing to dig deep to a place that makes you uncomfortable. You must be willing to expose a part of yourself, for better or worse, and you must be willing to stand out from the crowd. We have one life and it is brief. Isn’t it better to be pistachio almond (with hot fudge and sprinkles on top)?!