Have you ever been so afraid that it feels as if you are glued to the floor and you cannot move?
Perhaps this is the wrong analogy. I’m not meaning to talk about anxiety, that is a subject I have little experience with.
I’m talking about fear. The kind of fear that seems to plant a wall in front of you. A wall that blocks you from moving forward, but allows- almost forces- you to retreat back to where you came from.
Fear has such a heavy presence in our everyday lives. It seems to keep us in place, or in what we call our “comfort zones.”
I think what fear really comes down to is a lack of control. We think “I can control this, so this is safe. But that over there will be totally out of my control so that’s terrifying.”
A rather simple example is water. My mom is not a very strong swimmer so she is afraid of water. My siblings and I are excellent swimmers, so we love water. Well… now I don’t really like getting my hair wet… but I used to love water and swimming.
My love of water was not a natural development, however. When I was about 5 or 6, one of the first sessions of swim lessons my brother and I ever took together was a complete disaster. We were both perfectly content to hang on the wall and practice our kicking and breathing.
But the moment one of our instructors tried to put us on a kickboard and walk us away from the wall we would both FREAK out. How they didn’t kick us out of swim lessons for screaming bloody murder every week I will never know.
On the wall, we felt safe. Able to get out of the pool and onto dry land whenever we wanted. Out in the middle of the pool, we were reliant on a sketchy kick-board and an instructor who was constantly walking us into deeper waters that we did not want to enter.
For some reason, my mom braved through the meltdowns and continued signing us up for lessons (at a different pool). She made us push through our fears of swimming until we were no longer afraid.
Now, real quick, there are a few things in life where a healthy fear of something is good. Like, snakes, spiders, and commitment.
However, if we allow ourselves to succumb to fear in life, we will miss out on some amazing experiences. Sometimes you have to purposefully push past your fear, or get out of your comfort zone, to prove to yourself that you need not be afraid.
About six weeks ago, during an especially boring season in my life, I decided to buy tickets to Seattle. I always say how much I want to travel the world; it is time to start putting my money where my mouth is.
Leading up to my trip I was full of excitement and anticipation. Even when my mom dropped me off at the airport and I got on my plane, I was thrilled.
But the moment I landed, a feeling of “holy crap! What am I doing?” started to consume me. I began to think of everything that could go wrong.
I am a single girl walking alone on streets which, much like Denver, are home to an aggressive homeless population.
It is honestly a little scary to walk past someone shooting heroin, or getting yelled at from across the street by a homeless guy. It’s unnerving to hear a homeless guy mumble something about it not being safe for a girl to be out after dark right behind you as you wait to cross the street in search of dinner.
To be fair, I would consider myself a lot safer had I stayed in my suburban bedroom.
But had I stayed in my safe little corner of the world, I would never have gotten to see the Puget Sound. I wouldn’t have met a dog named Daisy who was known by all the vendors in the Pike Place Market. I wouldn’t have gotten to see the Great Gum Wall which has sat in my Pinterest Travel Board for years.
You can’t let fear dictate if you move or stay in life. There is too much to do to let fear trap you in your comfort zone.