I don’t know about you, but I have a very complicated relationship with fear.
About 90% of the time it tells me what to do.
The rest of the time, I’m debating and trying to convince myself (fear) that I’m being ridiculous and creating stories I know will never happen. I mean, the boogie man isn’t going to jump out of the closet when I’m home alone (or is he?)
Fear even likes to play a few games, like whispering little secrets about how your dream will fail, everyone will laugh at you for even trying or, hell, you’ll look ridiculous for trying the beginner ballet class at 27.
Fear hides in so many places and in so many ways.
And we spend most of our time following the fear path, so it’s not until we’re lying in the dark at the bottom of the fear-ridden hole that we realise it’s controlling our life.
(I mean, you might be living the life of love, confidence and all that jazz, but fear at least shows itself to everyone.)
Sometimes we disguise it as rational, others as changing our mind or maybe as being ‘responsible’.
Fear can be the choice to stay in the good job, because money is consistent and who are you for following your (insert dream)?
It can come around as staying silent when you really want to talk to that person you ride the bus with every day.
Fear can also tell you it’s too late to try ballet lessons, you’re too old and frankly you’ll look a little ridiculous. Well, I tried ballet lessons for the first time when I was 27 and it was an intermediate class.
Let’s just say that my leggings and socks stood out a little too much to the ballerinas who’d clearly studied since primary school, and I had no idea what ‘tondue’ was (still don’t).
Needless to say it was the funniest hour of my life. Fear had been telling me for 27 years to stay away and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard — ever.
Fear is the reason you don’t wear your favourite dress, jumper or (insert item) because who are you to stand out?
This really struck a chord with me the other day.
For those of you who don’t know, I broke my right knee pretty remarkably, and it’s been a long and incredible journey back to Dani.
Snow-skiing (how the incident occurred) and surfing were at the top of the ‘get back to Dani’ list.
Now, I conquered snow-skiing a few months ago and the fear was so intense that I was nauseous, hadn’t spoken on the entire lift up and was shaking from the inside out.
Guess what? The first run sucked. I mean, I was skiing like my 7-year-old self and had breaks the entire way down the easiest run on the mountain.
I had a moment where I could walk straight back to the lodge and put my skis on the rack and turn my back on one of my favourite hobbies, or I could try it again.
And guess what? I tried it again.
Fear was still there, screaming at me, but I did it and it was amazing.
Next on the list was surfing.
Last week, I paddled out. The waves were peeling, the sun was shining and I felt ready to conquer my fear.
I paddled out, pushed over the first wave, then the second wave, and could suddenly feel my heart pounding in my chest.
I couldn’t think straight – fear was doing all sorts of things to me (see definition of complicated relationship).
But I was so determined, I paddled out the back (and sat there for probably 30 minutes) and when the perfect wave came I paddled onto it.
I slid down the front, jumped up and glided for 5 seconds until CRASH.
Toppling over, I fell in the ocean and when I stood up – exhilarated – I couldn’t stop smiling.
I kept surfing and caught three more waves.
I had done it. I paddled back out and stared at the horizon, feeling pretty amazing.
And the little voice came back and said, “Sharks! You’re going to get eaten by sharks.”
It was then that I knew we’re never going to defeat all the fears – we just have to learn to dance with them.