The Myth of Fearlessness
The word “fearless” appears all over the coaching world like a bad rash. You’ve seen the quotes on Facebook: Maybe in bold typeface against a mountain backdrop, maybe in a nice all-caps sans-serif next to a picture of a black-and-white lion. Regardless of how you’ve seen it, you’re probably familiar with the idea that it’s possible to live without fear.
Katherine North knows that’s impossible. She’s scared every day: Of professional phone calls, of being vulnerable—Even of little things like bugs, the dark, and ghosts. Katherine knows fear is just a natural part of being human.
For a long time, the thing she was most afraid of is herself. Katherine’s the daughter of two missionaries who moved to Japan when she was young. As such, she considers herself a “third-culture kid.” That means she grew up in a culture that differs from that of her parents, but she doesn’t fully identify as part of either. She often felt uncomfortable and out-of-place, and she internalized those feelings. She used to think the problem wasn’t her environment, but her: If only she was more pious, more grateful, more open to the Church’s tenets.
As missionaries in Japan, Katherine’s parents had no problem connecting to Christianity. Katherine loves her parents. She knows that everything they do for her is motivated by love, and she’s incredibly grateful. Inevitably, though, Katherine experienced her own troubles and traumas. The dissonance between her loving family and some of the more horrific experiences she’s been through confused her. How is it that people who love each other can still hurt each other so much? How can a system that feels so lifegiving and affirming to some people feel draining to another? How can kids who grow up in the same family have different experiences? How can people who live in the same house live such different realities?
Those questions serve as the basis of her memoir, Holy Heathen. It took ten years for Katherine to finally finish Holy Heathen. The creative process isn’t uniform—For some, their work pours out of them; For others, the process is slowly killing them from the inside.
Katherine fell on the latter end. For her, the delay stemmed in part from anxiety by way of perfectionism. Katherine tends to be hard on herself: She told our host, Heather, that she rarely celebrates her wins because she always feels like she could’ve done more. Still, Katherine’s no stranger to writing. She writes what she calls “weekly missives”—A newsletter that sends a story to your inbox every Saturday morning. Despite this, she felt insecure in her abilities.
She also struggled to find a big-name publisher who could affirm the value of her story. She feared that self-publishing was self-indulgent. After sufficiently grieving the dream of landing a big publishing deal and becoming the next Cheryl Strayed, Katherine found herself at a crossroads. Either she could forgo her dream of writing a memoir or prioritize herself and her story. Luckily for all of us, she chose herself.
Stepping into Her Brave
The decision wasn’t easy, and the process was drawn-out. Much of the reason Katherine took the leap is because of her connection to the earth. Katherine considers herself a mystic, and she believes there’s an energy throughout the universe. When she taps into it, she feels supported enough to make room for her fear and make the brave leap anyway.
Her memoir chronicles her life from scared missionary girl to happy solo mom. She finished her manuscript before falling in love with her husband, Nick (We actually did an episode with Nick a little while ago and it's awesome!).
This next chapter of Katherine’s life could fill another memoir. Instead, she and Nick produced and starred in a documentary about their marriage. Now, she’s a married mom of five and wife to her transgender husband, Nick. She lives on an island off the west coast of Canada called Salt Spring.
If Katherine wants you to take away anything from her story, it’s that doing the hard thing that you’ve always dreamed of doing is worthwhile. Her memoir loomed over her life for a decade. Now that it’s published, the weight is gone.
Connect with Katherine
Katherine North is a mystic, life coach, and author of Holy Heathen: A Spiritual Memoir.
She develops programs that help her clients become braver and bolder than they thought they were capable of. A former missionary kid, she’s now a queer feminist, mother of five, and self-described “foul-mouthed heathen mystic.” She and her husband, Nick North, recently produced and starred in a documentary chronicling their queer love story called Just Another Beautiful Family. Check out her website, Declaring Dominion, here. Be sure to follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and check out her Patreon here.