Is Fear Holding You Back?

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I turned 39 last Sunday. It was kind of a crazy day. We had spent the weekend at a house in the rural foothills of Eastern Washington surrounded by nearly four feet of soft powdery snow. It was beautiful! When we arrived on Friday, we had to snowmobile in with our bags part of the way because our vehicle couldn’t get through part of the road that hadn’t been plowed. When it was time to leave on Sunday, we had to hike three miles with our kids and cat/dog because our vehicle had to be towed out part of the way because it was stuck on an icy road on a steep hill. If I had known the roads would have been so tricky, I probably wouldn’t have gone…but guess what? I do know what the roads are like and we’re going back this weekend! We’ll just be a little more prepared (with chains) this time.

I know it probably sounds crazy (at least that’s what my mom says), but honestly the almost 72 hours of fun, beauty, adventure, and relaxation we experienced was worth the several hours of hiking and digging that we had to do. I’ve realized that there are probably many things I haven’t done in the past out of fear.

When I was turning 30, people asked me if I was weirded out about turning 30. NO WAY, I would say…I had a harder time turning 29. How do I feel about turning 40 next year? Awesome actually!! I’ve realized with most things, it’s the leading up to and transitional phases that I’m not comfortable with.

Whether it’s an outdoor adventure that may be a little more daring than usual, writing a query letter for a piece I’m interested in writing, meeting a new crowd of people who I know nothing about, taking an art class I have no experience in, following a path that is not the “normal” route, or anything else that I perceive as a little bit risky–I always drag my feet leading up to it. I drive myself nuts!!

It drives me crazy that I do that because EVERY TIME I actually follow through and DO what I want to do, I’m glad that I did it (whatever it is) and wish I would have done it sooner. Pull the trigger already!

Why do I resist?


Fear of not doing it well enough

Fear that I’m not ready

Fear that I cannot trust myself

Fear that I won’t succeed

Fear of other people’s judgments

Fear of failure

Whatever fear we have–you name it—it all comes back to one thing:

Not doing anything at all–out of fear–IS FAILURE!!!

Doing something (even if we don’t do it well at first) is at least doing something.

Once we start doing things, even if we are lousy at first, we will get better if we continue to work on it—whatever it is: art, music, exercise, eating well, writing, meeting new people, trying new daring outdoor adventure, hiking in and out of the snow, etc.

So, I’ve started pushing myself harder and faster through the “leading up to” transitional phase so that I can get to the good part that I love—actually DOING new things and going on new UNKNOWN adventures! If I look at trying new things like going on a fun adventure, it’s much more appealing. This isn’t about being good or even great at something. It’s about experiencing and trying something that we want to try to seeing where it goes with a little time and effort. It’s about committing to DOING, not just getting ready to maybe someday try.

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Before I would think things like: I don’t want to fall on my face trying out stand up paddleboarding—How embarrassing?!? Well, I have literally fallen on my face paddle boarding in front of a big group of people and not only was it so not a big deal because I was laughing at myself, but other people were falling off too (although maybe not on their faces as I did), but whatever…We were paddleboarding down a river. :)

Another thing I used to shy away from was starting conversations with random (unknown to me) people because I didn’t know how they would respond to me. This has become one of my favorite activities (even though I’m technically an introvert). I LOVE meeting new people and learning about their lives. It’s so inspiring and fuels my creative spirit.

A big problem for me has been thinking: I don’t want to spend a bunch of time and effort sending in query letters to magazines or wherever and working on my craft consistently only to be turned down over and over. Guess what? That’s part of the deal sometimes if you want to eventually get your work accepted. Get over it, right!?! I’m still amazed to see one small piece I wrote for Redbook magazine. So what if editors and publishers are not knocking down my door. It’s a start, right? Now, I have to keep working, trying, and transitioning from unpublished to published. Did I mention I’m not fond of the transitional phase!?! [A friend of mine, who just read this, said that I should probably add, if I ever want more writing gigs, that my work has also been published on numerous websites, newspapers, and in-house corporate marketing material. :) ]

And I’m not saying you shouldn’t prepare before trying new things. I’m just saying don’t kid yourself by saying you are preparing to DO IT when you are actually procrastinating. You know deep down if you are trying to fool yourself out of fear.

Some of the best and most fun things I have ever done have been scary for me leading up to the actual doing. I dragged my feet, made up excuses, and let fear stand in my way. No more! I’m learning to change my behavior and thought patterns and it feels good.

If fear is holding you back from ANYTHING—move through it. Make a decision to get over it so you can get on with living and doing things that you want to do!! It’s a conscious decision. Letting go of fear, that we are using as an excuse to not begin, is a risk worth taking.

Remember: Trying something and not doing it well is not failure; it’s the beginning of learning and experiencing life to the fullest.

Just go for it—whatever it is!!

P.S. Later, I’m going to tell you about the could-have-been-really-embarrassing-experience-if-I-let-it-be that I had at my first painting class, and why I think that experience was so great!

P.S.S. Some of you may have already worked through fear. Congrats to you! We’d love to hear how you worked through it!

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