The other day I was out for a jog, and I must have spaced out for a minute because I tripped on an uneven concrete slab and went flying.  My inner Neo kicked in, and I instinctively lunged towards the lawn to my right.  I actually did a little 007 somersault and popped back up, no worse for wear.  Had I missed the grass, I'd probably have been scraped up on the sidewalk pretty bad. It's kind of funny to think about it now, but at the time, all I could think about after was, "I hope no one saw me!"   Never mind my awesome ninja reflexes; I was worried that someone would think I looked dumb.

Why is that the first thing I thought of?  Why is that the first thing so many of us think of?  I hope no one saw me.

The sad truth is that that kind of thinking is more pervasive than just during embarrasing accidents; those thoughts hold us back in many very real, everyday ways:

  • We keep silent about the issues most important to us because we don't want to make waves.
  • We make decisions and define our identify by the potential criticisms we might receive from others.
  • We stifle our own comebacks because we think people will judge us.

In short, we're afraid of watchful eyes, and it keeps us from being who we're supposed to be.

The truth is that, no matter how bad things may seem, it's never so bad that everyone wants you to fail.  Sure, some people might -- not every watchful eye is imaginary (I'm talking to you, TMZ) -- but for every hater, you've got a thousand supporters right here.  Here's how to turn things around:

  1. Realize that no one has a memory like you.  Don't beat yourself up over things that no one will ever know about, or remember.  Guilt is a trap, and you deserve better.
  2. Accept that you're not alone.  Every one of us has made mistakes, and we all know the feeling of being judged.  Whether it's a trip on a sidewalk or a terrible decision with lasting consqeunces, we've been there.  Find your supporters by finding people with a shared experience.

Your second chance starts today.  Maybe all eyes really are on you, but if so, then consider this your chance to show them what a real comeback looks like.

Have you ever found support through shared experience?  Talk about it below!