When I was a kid, I had a lot of irrational fears. For starters, I was convinced that my stuffed animals came to life at night while I slept. I was also terrified of witches (thanks to the The Wizard of Oz), ghosts, clowns, spiders, tornados (again, thanks Wizard of Oz)…the list goes on and on. Maybe because I was an only child with an overactive imagination, but I could freak myself out on a pretty regular basis.
Today, I still avoid clowns and spiders, but my other childhood fears have given way to bigger, more grown up concerns. Fear of failure is a huge one. Fear of not measuring up is another. Fear of rejection, fear of flying, fear of letting people down..…..the list is long y’all! But the biggest fear I have and the one that drives nearly everything I do is the fear of complacency. The fear that one day I will be unable or unwilling to challenge myself anymore. That’s why, when I feel myself getting into a rut, I have to find something to reignite my passions.
The problem is—sometimes those fears overlap—and the very thing that I need or want to do in order to avoid complacency is the very thing that scares me to death. And sometimes I fail spectacularly (because I don’t believe in doing anything half-assed—lol), but sometimes I succeed—and it’s in those successes, however small, that I realize that not trying is much scarier than any other fear that’s holding me back.
For example, I gave up cigarettes and daily alcohol consumption nearly two decades ago---and I was terrified! I had no idea who I was if I wasn’t “fun Bonny,”-----and I had to completely readjust my life to accommodate my new lifestyle. But if I’d let the fear stop me, I can say with absolute certainty that I wouldn’t be healthy today.
I wanted to take on a triathlon a couple of years ago, despite the fact that I wasn’t a good swimmer, and that the idea of swimming with about 300 other people around me gave me anxiety. I had panic attacks in open water, and there were days when the training left me so exhausted I couldn’t move---but if I’d let my fear stop me, I’d never have known the feeling of crossing that finish line and discovering a new sport I enjoy.
One of my biggest fears occurred last year when I realized I wanted to take my passion for fitness from group training to the cycle studio—but there were about 1000 fears I had to face in order to do that. What many people don’t realize right away is that I am actually a pretty shy person--- big groups and small talk are not my thing—so putting myself out there in front of a large group both literally and figuratively scared the hell out of me. I was also afraid to ask one of my closest friends (who also happens to be an amazing cycle instructor) to help me prepare for my audition—I was scared of looking ridiculous. But if I’d let those fears stop me, I wouldn’t be doing something I love.
Most recently, I took a bad fall on my bike and was out of commission for almost a month. I had A LOT of time to think, and I realized two things: 1. I had to get back on my bike at some point, and 2. It was time to leave corporate America, pursue ALL my passions, and rediscover why I became a writer in the first place. Yes, it is unsettling to go back out there in the freelance world---but so many fun and exciting opportunities have already come from that decision that I’m certain it was the right one.
The point here is that any chance we take or lifestyle change we make is uncertain, and with uncertainty comes fear. I never said that I OVERCAME the fear—I said I didn’t let it stop me—there’s a big difference. The expression, “be scared and do it anyway,” is one of my favorites because bravery doesn’t mean absence of fear—it means in spite of it.
What are you scared to do that is holding you back from living your best, healthiest life or chasing your dreams? It’s never too late to face that fear and give it a shot.
Oh, and as for getting back on my bike? Well, that one remains to be seen—but I’m hopeful☺