I have a list. I have a “to-do” lists, with stuff I want to try one day. Other one filled with the adventures I’d like to go on one day, and I have a list of things that scare me like hell (but I secretly want to do anyway). In the past, fear didn’t help achieve any on that last list, until somehow I found something I thought it was not possible, I found strength in the fear.
The thing I was terrified the most was: swimming. I never really learned to swim because of terrible experiences I had in the water, (mostly involving my relatives and former classmates).
Nowadays, no matter what excuse I can think of, I’m aware I avoided swimming for years. As a result, I allowed fear to control my life.
- First I used the: “I don’t have time for this” excuse. I didn’t find time even when I was in summer or vacations.
- Next, it was the “I do not have the money for this” excuse, even though the lessons on the public pool with amazing teachers were worth not more than 50USD (yes, for all classes you needed to learn how to swim and survive on the water).
- After that, I used the” I don’t want to do this” excuse, even though I knew I wanted to try at least.
However, every time I went over there to ask for information (I went maybe four times in that year), anxiety and fear kicked me. My mind “kindly” reminded me of all the awful experiences I have had before while on the water or while trying to learn.
So, my mind and fear won all those battles, but in the end, I won the war. 🙂
This time was different. One morning, after someone gave me a lecture about how one should always put one first: before work, family, friends, school, and other life “responsibilities.” I started to think how much I have avoided doing what I wanted to do.
At that moment, my mind made me remembered my past “attempts” to take the lessons and how I failed to do it once fear “attacked” me when I got home. So, this time, I signed up for the lessons before going back home. Clever, right?
After that, several fears kicked me; I was anxious about not having a “proper” bathing suit, investing my money in something I probably was not going to finish. And, about the first lesson: Was I going to have classmates? Was I going to be the “old lady” over there? (I laugh every time I remember this, there were 50, 60 years old ladies learning too). Fear was all over the place. I was terrified, and I was also embarrassed.
Now, how this experience with fear helped me achieve my dreams?
- It provided me with the CONFIDENCE and pride in myself I thought I didn’t have.
- Now, I feel capable of doing almost anything.
- My strength is REAL; it does not come from ego. I know because this feels great, and not like I’m an “impostor.”
- This experience made me feel accomplished and fulfilled.
- I feel less and less fear of being judged (sometimes I still think about it, but it is less than before).
- It helped me say out loud “I am so proud of you” while watching myself in the mirror for the first time in my life. And I meant it.
- It showed me how it feels doing something you want to do (pleasure) VS something other people tell you to do (social pressure, culture paradigm, society rules).
- It gave me the kick start I needed to start writing (again) and take the illustration courses I’ve been postponing for years.
I am not saying you should do what I did. Doing something that terrifies you may not work for you. I know because before swimming, I tried other things: paragliding, bungy jumping, puenting (Spanish word meaning: Jump off a bridge with a rope tied to your waist, towards the void), rafting, canopying. I have also traveled solo to places I didn’t know, and done other sort of things considerate “scary” and “risky.”
Though, nothing gave me my power back, like this. I believe the reason is: unlike all my other attempts, this was personal. Not only something I wanted to try to see how it felt or something someone told me I “should” do/try.
Nevertheless, I am not saying you are going to be successful in the first attempt, but at least, you will no longer live with a fear of not being capable. And that will no longer control every aspect of your life.
In my case, fear is no longer my boss; it’s my companion, my strength, the force allowing me to enjoy the simple and more complex things in this world.
In summary, to use fear as your strength, you can:
- Make a list of things you always wanted to try but were “too scared,” or “too busy” to do,
- Pick one from that list.
- Research and find out where you can do it.
- Sign up.
- Show up.
- Finish the course, activity, or whatever it is on your list.
- Feel great about yourself.
- Tell yourself how proud you are of yourself, preferably in front of a mirror.
- Allow yourself to feel that moment of greatness.
- Become friend with your fear.
- Keep your fear as a companion, and guide.
I hope this works out for you.
Have an incredible journey, full of amazing adventures.
PS: Remember to be careful, and always do any new activity with an instructor or professional, and ask your doctor about it, so you do not hurt yourself.