June 25, 2016

Naming My Fears to Conquer Them

This post is part of a 30 in 30 blog experiment, where I committed to writing 30 posts in 30 days with minimal planning between June 20, 2016 and July 20, 2016.

There’s a storm rolling in today.

As my phone buzzes with weather warnings, anxiety about the safety of my loved ones rises. For some ridiculous reason I feel like if I am with them I can keep them safe and calm even when my insides are not calm. Or maybe I just worry that if something happens and I am not there that I will always wonder what happened--be haunted by it.

Fear for me is often rooted in the “what if.” That feeling of not knowing, of not being able to control what comes next. It’s the feeling I avoid the most. With the storm, all I can do is head for cover and hope it’s enough. I can only surrender, and so my fear fades into the background as I do what's necessary to stay safe.

As a child, I was terrified to the point of shaking and weakness at the thought of riding a roller coaster, but I’ve grown into and adult who loves them. I know that fears can be conquered. The trick, I just realized, is finding enough incentive to be willing to endure the “what if.”

Remember that scene in the movie Twister (spoiler alert) when Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton live through the final tornado by strapping themselves to some pipes in that tiny shack? Helen Hunt’s character had spent her entire life doggedly pursuing the knowledge about what happens at the center of a tornado because it represented the worst moment of her life—when she watched her father get whisked away by a tornado. And in the eye of the tornado, in the middle of her worst nightmare, she saw a moment of blue sky.

Naming some of my more persistent fears feels like strapping myself into the path of the biggest tornado I’ve ever seen. Once I've named it, I have to see it. I'll never be able to pretend it isn't there.

With my fear of roller coasters, the scariest part was waiting in line and anticipating my fear, but underneath the anxiety and the worry there was a trill of excitement--a buzz that said I was pushing my own limits. I wanted to know if I could do it. I dared to believe I was bigger than my fear. By trying, I'd triggered something new.

Once I was strapped in the car hurtling over the hills and loop de loops, I looked up and saw blue sky. The friend next to me squeezed my hand. I was not alone. I finally focused on the moment and not the what if. I didn’t die, pee my pants, or anything else I’d imagined. I actually had fun.

I know that conquering my fears won’t be as fun as discovering I love roller coasters, but as I dare myself to imagine a world without my fear, I’m hanging onto the vision of the blue sky. I just have to remember to look up.

What were you formerly afraid of and can’t get enough of now? What’s your favorite roller coaster? Mine is the Rockin’ Rollercoaster at WDW Hollywood Studios.

Edited: July 31, 2016 for excess commas and other silly things.

1 comment:

  1. I have a fear of flying (irrational, I know, and yet...) that I've labored to overcome.
    Especially since my son is about to leave for college in another state and his younger sister wants to follow to the same out-of-state school next fall.

    To get to and from my babies, I'll have to suck it up and fly. That motivation should be enough to put the fear in perspective because being away from them for too long is scarier.


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