Plunging into a cold pool is always scarier in theory than in practice. While tiptoeing around the edge, all you can think about is how uncomfortable it will be to jump in, so you talk yourself out of it. The imagination has a way of turning even the most temperate waters icy.
Participating in a discussion feels the same way. There's something you want to say but before you do, fear rushes in, and doubt clouds your head. Don't say that. You're going to stumble over your words and make a fool of yourself. People are going to think you're an idiot. Who do you think you are to voice your opinion anyway? So you talk yourself out of it.
I've realized, my hesitation usually stems from a fear of saying something trivial, stupid, or obvious. Luckily, I've found a different way to view discussions that has helped me push through that fear.
Even if my contribution seem pointless to me, it could still add to the conversation by triggering ideas in other people. My words themselves don't have to be profound to be helpful because something I say could spark an idea in someone else's brain that is brilliant or insightful. Then, they'll share whatever is on their mind, and the cycle continues. Thus, the magic of a discussion lies not in what any one person has to say but in the culmination of ideas that build off of each other.
The pool always looks more menacing when you're standing on its edge, but once you get in, you realize, this isn't as bad as I thought. In fact, it's actually pretty fun in here! Then, one of the most enjoyable parts about being in the pool is inviting others to join you. Trust me--it's not that bad once you get used to it! It turns out, reality is far less painful than our anxieties insist.
Take the pressure off your words to be all the way correct or deep or profound. Jump in before you're ready. Raise your hand. Write a blog post. Contribute. Your words, no matter how trivial they seem to you, matter because they propel the discussion forward.