For almost a year (since last April, to be exact), I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into a project that really excited me … but I also couldn’t talk about it. Until today, that is.
After months of behind-the-scenes secrecy, I am thrilled to announce my second book, Gutsy: Learning to Live with Bold, Brave, and Boundless Courage is now available for pre-order …
Where Built to Belong remains my legacy and what I want to leave behind for you, my small, independent business owners who inspire me every day — you are my “why” — Gutsy is quite different.
Huey and Harlow, your entire existence is a miracle, and not only because you were conceived through IVF. Like any human being on this planet, statistically there is a greater chance that you shouldn’t be here, living this life … but here you are.
Shortly before my grandmother passed away, I told her I hoped I would make her proud. She replied with one sentence that completely changed my life:
In that moment, she gave me the freedom to step out of the “perfection” box I had spent years trying to force myself into, as the perfect daughter or the perfect wife or the perfect friend.
She helped me see I didn’t need to aspire to the ideals someone else might have of how I should show up — ugh, I hate the word “should.” I just needed to be who I am and always have been, and that’s enough. That’s the real win.
My message is the same to you. You don’t need to ever focus on making me proud. I already am. Instead, live every day to make yourself proud. Don’t waste a second of your life questioning if there is space for you; there is.
This is something it took me more than 30 years to figure out.
As someone who has spent so long as a prisoner of my own pursuit for perfection, I cannot tell you how exhausting that is, although my gut tells me there are more of a few of you out there who can relate.
When you’re constantly chasing validation and looking to others to define the “shoulds” you need to achieve in order to get a coveted gold star in life, it almost feels like you’re breathing through a straw every waking moment of every day.
You can never pull in enough air into your lungs to truly feel like you’re living.
Even when you “win” according to someone else’s standards, those victories always feel hollow and disappointing. You’re never living your life based on what you truly desire, and there’s always another “should” box you need to chase.
Nothing you do is ever enough.
As a result, you never feel like you’re enough.
For so much of my life, I’ve wanted to be smarter or thinner or more athletic. I was always trying to squeeze myself into a mold that I thought would make others love me more. I couldn’t bear the thought of someone not liking me.
If you’re a fellow Ennegram 3 (and/or first-born), you know what I’m talking about. We so easily fall into that trap of:
But over time I realized — after an aggressive and sometimes devastating amount of trial and error — when I devoted myself to trying to be somebody I wasn’t, I was setting myself up to fail. Because when I tried to make myself palatable, there was no way for me to ever take the risks necessary to make the impact on the world I want to make … or simply live life how I want to truly live it, on my terms.
📚 Get your copy: Pre-order Gutsy by Natalie Franke
As I’ve opened up and allowed myself to be more seen by the world for who I truly am, I became more comfortable with the fact that not everyone is going to like me, and I’m not for everyone — and that’s OK!
Like Elyse Myers says:
“If I’m too much for you, go find less.”
Of course, even if we know this intellectually — that we aren’t for everyone, and we need to allow ourselves to fully blossom with reckless abandon to live the lives of OUR dreams (not someone else’s) — fully embracing this mindset without fear is easier said than done.
One of my favorite mantras in life is:
“Do it scared.”
Because, when you swing for the fences and take the big risks that are followed by out-of-this-world rewards, you’re always going to be scared when you make that leap. That fear is never going to entirely go away.
If you’re waiting for that fear to dissipate before you take action, you’re going to be waiting forever. You can’t wait until you’re brimming with unassailable confidence before you take action. You will always be concerned with what other people think about you.
That is a feature, not a bug, my friends.
When I look back at how my life has unfolded, particularly over the past several years, I am amazed at how different it would have looked had I let the need for validation and approval dictate the choices I made.
I would never have done any of the things that actually led to joy in my life.
I would never have moved across the country to San Francisco …
… leaving behind my hometown, along with our family and our friends, and all of the foundational elements of our lives we had built here.
People would ask, “You’re really going to do it? You’ve spent your whole life building your career here, in Annapolis!”
Yes, I was. And that gutsy choice was the catalyst for so many other things that happened. I was able to work with a new medical team who recommended the brain surgery I needed, which changed my life.
I connected with the fertility clinic that led to my pregnancy with Huey, proving I could, in fact, have a child.
I not only learned so much from the vibrant tech community of San Francisco, I also found a home with Honeybook, whose company culture and mission moved me from the moment we connected.
🔎 Related: You don’t want to focus on clientflow, but your life depends on it
There are so many different, life-altering outcomes that came from that single, “unsafe” moment of moving across the country — and doing it scared.
Now, when I look at old photos of myself across different stages of my life, I no longer cringe with wishes of being thinner or a better version of myself, by someone else’s standards. I love myself.
When I look at photos of myself after having just given birth in a foreign, postpartum body, I love who I see. I do not recognize that version of myself in so many ways, but I love her when I look at her, fully and in a way I never thought possible.
So many self-help books challenge you to simply not care and, I’m here to tell you that’s simply impossible. So, if you’re sitting there marking yourself off as a failure because you do care what others think, you’re not.
You’re an incredible human, and your caring is a beautiful sign of your undeniable humanity.
However, you also have to honor your needs and honor who you are. We should all fight for a world where we can truly show up as our authentic selves. This is the responsibility we all have. I talked about that a lot in Built to Belong, but you’re going to have to go do the damn thing in your life, whatever it looks like, with some degree of fear.
📚 Get your copy: Pre-order Gutsy by Natalie Franke
Again, you need to do it scared. Yes, everyone is going to have an opinion about the choices you make, good and bad.
It’s the same way they’ll have opinions about everything in your life, from the moment you can talk — what activities you participate in, what you study, what career path you choose, who you choose to love, what your wedding does or doesn’t look like (if you decide to marry), your parenting style (should you have children), what big life choices you make and when, and on and on and on.
That will never, ever change.
But while you’re obsessing over what others might think, there’s something you should know. Bronnie Ware wrote on Regrets of the Dying, in which she shared what others, reflecting on their choices at the end of their life, truly regretted the most.
One of the most common regrets?
“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
No one said they wished they had done a better job living their lives based on the expectations of others.
So, even though you never stop caring entirely, at some point you can stop prioritizing how to make others proud. Fear can become a less disruptive companion, as you focus on what truly matters — making yourself proud.
That’s when the real magic happens.
Through it, I hope you see this is your moment.
You don’t need to look through the window of life, watching others run away with your dreams, as you wait for someone else to say you’re worthy and finally grant you permission to rock your own world.
Right now, just as you are, you are already enough.
In fact, you’re more than enough.
You don’t have to live your life for other people. It is possible to be of service to others and act selflessly without giving your agency and your dreams away.
Now is the time for you to press “play” on your life again.
Now it’s your turn to be gutsy.
© 2023 Natalie Franke