Presenting Our Authentic, Imperfect Selves to the World

This blog is about something we all have in common: facing our fears.

I was recently introduced to Dr. Deborah Ekstrom, an experienced, board certified plastic surgeon, Medical Director and owner of Salisbury Plastic Surgery in Worcester, MA.

You may have heard “if you want to get something done, give it to a busy person.” That would be “Dr. E.” as she makes time in spite of a busy professional life for watercolor painting, photography, gardening and teaching financial and investment skills to women.

Her passion of teaching financial skills to women was the reason for our introduction, as Dr. Ekstrom asked me to be a guest speaker for her podcast, Money Loves Women.

After some juggling with calendars, I accepted what I thought was going to be a call to discuss content. Was I surprised when I found out we were actually recording the podcast during that meeting!  Yikes – my first podcast! (When you’ve finished enjoying this blog post, click to listen to the podcast at

Fear, Panic, Regret … all happening at once. The good news is Dr. Ekstrom’s calm and welcoming demeanor quickly put me at ease and I forgot (until the podcast was over) how nervous I was.

She started by asking me to tell a little about myself. If I had known the questions ahead of time, I would have been selective about what I told, and my answers would have been rehearsed with the goal being flawless delivery.

Those who know me, know that I describe myself as being an “open chapter” rather than an “open book”. Truth be told, I’m not sure I’ll ever fully be an open book. With that in mind, I would never have expected that of all places, on a podcast, what would come out of my mouth would be completely and utterly from the heart and can best be described as The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.

In the back of my mind, I had high hopes that her staff would misplace my podcast or listen to it and decide not to use it. I struggled with myself on whether I would even tell anyone I had done the podcast. Maybe no one would find out.

I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, and a nagging voice in my head that I had told too much about who I was and how I grew up. Along with those thoughts came the old and familiar fear: fear of what my family would say; fear of being judged; fear of being ridiculed; fear of being seen; fear of not being enough.

I shared thoughts that I could do better if we could re-record with Dr. E who graciously agreed to let me hear it before it aired, but she asked me to listen to it with an open mind. She indicated that her staff would be sending the recording to me and to let her know as soon as I had listened. I watched my email inbox daily until one day I received an email.  Thinking it was the draft file, I quickly opened it to see the podcast which had officially gone “live.” “Too late now,” I thought.

The life and my words are out there for all the world to hear for eternity. I left the unheard podcast in my inbox for almost a week. A dear friend and colleague opened it before me and sent a lovely note saying how proud he was of me, and that he was late for work because he didn’t want to leave home until he finished listening to it as he ate his breakfast.

Listening to it was on my to-do list, but I just didn’t seem to be getting around to it. Not until I was reviewing possible blog topics did I think, oh what the heck, I’ll listen to it.

I cleared my calendar, took a deep breathe, centered myself and turned on the podcast. As I sat in silence and took it all in, questions began to run through my mind.  Would I have shared as much as I did if I had had the opportunity to listen and revise it? Would I have been as vulnerable? Would the podcast have been more or less impactful for listeners?  I’ll never know.

But what I do know is that the Universe did for me what I could not do for myself.  It forced me into being me, to allowing the world to see me warts and all.

I realized today that the same ego that tries to protect me would have stopped me from sharing some of the things I did in the podcast.  Unfortunately, it would have also prevented me from taking that next step in my own growth and development and delayed me from stepping into the next version of myself.

My go-to question… is always, what was I supposed to learn from this?

  1. The next time I won’t be as scared and I’ll do a better job.
  2. If others had not stepped out of their comfort zones and shared, I would not be as far along in my journey as I am today.
  3. Take a chance… go for it! What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!
  4. As Dr. Seuss once said, “Those that mind won’t matter and those that matter won’t mind.”
  5. We all have pasts, warts, and things we don’t like about ourselves or want to tell. We forget we are not the only one.

So, take a listen. See what you think. Share your thoughts in the comments below if you’d like. My hope is that it inspires you.


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  1. Shirley

    Hi Joan,

    As I listened to your podcast, it helped me to understand how you have used your life’s experiences and lessens learned to develop the wisdom, beauty, goodness, strength and success you have achieved, all of which Bo and I recognized, admired and grew to love long ago. Your story will be an inspiration to all who listen to this and especially to those who know you. Thank you for allowing your life to be an open book in order to help others. We live life looking forward but we understand it looking back.

  2. Frank Thompson

    Hey Joan –

    Listened to your podcast. Reflecting on your mantra to keep listening, leaning and growing – I’d say this was a pretty productive day for me. Thanks…

  3. Thank you for your sharing. I am worried that I lack creative ideas. It is your article that makes me full of hope. Thank you. But, I have a question, can you help me?

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