“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
I’ve met so many people that absolutely refuse to do things. Things that would actually make them happy, but they don’t, because they are scared. I have someone older, close to me, that refuses to use a computer, or an IPAD. They love to shop, they love to play games, they love to watch old movies and see photos and connect with people, but the fear of learning, or even touching, that device is simply too terrifying for them.
I know someone else who struggles with their health and refuses to exercise (or do more than walking casually) over fear they “won’t feel well,” or that “they’ll do too much” and then won’t feel well. This real fear stops them from doing things they sometimes will casually say, “I wish I were able to do that.”
Fear is a real thing. It’s so easy for us to just say “Oh, suck it up and just do it,” but if the mind is not ready to commit, the body simply won’t follow. Fear can stall you and cause intense distress. I started a new job this year and they mailed me a Mac, and told me we were using Slack, Googlemeets, Googlemail, etc. I’m a big PC Microsoft Office girl. Microsoft Teams. I can do Excel and Powerpoint like a pro. Using Word is as simple as breathing for me. But suddenly at 53, while I’m sitting in my attic office, alone, I’m frozen in fear as I attempted to figure out how to even turn on my Mac. People kept telling me “It’s intuitive and so easy,” but honestly things are only easy if you know what you’re doing. Add on the stress of Covid and there was no one that could even come over and sit with me to help me navigate and learn. I had to google and watch videos over and over to simply learn tricks. The fear at the beginning was palpable and I begged my company to send me a regular PC. But, I have a good friend (and my daughter) who both told me to “stop being such a big baby, and just learn it.” They were right. I was doing exactly the opposite of what I preach. I took 1000 deep breaths, told myself it’s okay if don’t become an expert at this immediately (or over the next month), and just try and learn. I’m a few months into the job and things are better. At least I can navigate around and I won’t lie, I pat myself on the back and congratulate myself when I can actually find a specific email I haven’t touched in a few weeks. It’s NOT as intuitive as everyone under the age of 30 says, but I’m handling it.
Fear is about just “doing it.” Trying, attempting. It doesn’t mean you’re going to be an expert and it’s okay if the learning curve is slow.
I joined an open water swim group last summer. I’m not a great swimmer at all and I was amazed I put myself in a situation where I was going into an open bay, and swimming longer distances than I normally do. I’m not even sure why I did it, but the thrill was there for me and I thought, “why not?” I was trying to become a better swimmer and the idea of using a wetsuit and swimming in open water kind of made me feel a bit like a badass. So, I did it. Was I slow? Oh yeah. But I got stronger. Last night was the first night this year when I rejoined the group. Look at this photo and tell me that taking the chance, swallowing my fear, wasn’t the right choice? How beautiful is that scene? I was again in the slower group, which was FINE. There were four of us, with our own wonderful couch on a paddleboard watching and paddling nearby to make sure we were safe. And I know that even though every single time I step into that bay I have a tingle of fear, I also know that I’m doing something that will feed my soul and make me healthier. I also know how absolutely lucky and fortunate I am that I have the ability to even do this.
Do you do anything that you fear? Love to hear why you do it, how you conquer it, and what you get out of it.