When’s the last time you did something that scares you? I’m on the precipice of doing something that will soon have me answering “right now” to that exact question.
I’ve been reading a lot about overcoming fear lately. Not the usual fears of heights, dogs, or water, but the most common fear: that of the unknown. I’ve been inspired by people who’ve made Facebook announcements about quitting their jobs and moving to Europe. I’ve been motivated by Bassey Ikpi, who recently reminded me to “F*ck fear. Love anyway.” I’ve been jolted by the harsh reminder of my own mortality, and the fact that when you really look at things, there’s no time to be afraid anyways. The youngsters scream out “YOLO!” while my mom says “Chances are meant to be taken. Fear is what holds a lot of us back, and you can’t always walk around being afraid!” Mama be knowin’.
So then I get ready to do the one thing I want to do. The thing I have to do. The thing I need to do. As soon as I get ready to press the ‘Launch Mission‘ button with all my might, I stop. Doubt creeps in while courage leaks out. Maybe I don’t really have to do this. Now that I think about it, I probably don’t need to do it either. Next thing you know, the thing that scared the sh*t out of me but was the thing I wanted to/had to/needed to do dissolved like a sugar cube in water. A frivolous thought, an idea that wouldn’t work anyways…a reminder that sugar rotted your teeth and sensible, safe water was so much better for you.
Thinking abut this thing that I’m on the precipice of doing (sorry for being so damn cryptic) reminds me of when I used to double dutch as a little girl. The joke is, I NEVER double dutched as a little girl – at least not in public. I was the dopest rope-turner, but always passed up my turn to jump in. Why? Because I didn’t think I could do it without tripping up.
You see, I’m not the most coordinated person. At home, I’d get my brother to play rope-turner, and I’d tie the other ends of the ropes to our backyard fence (don’t laugh. I had no friends in the neighbourhood. Ok – you can laugh a little bit). My bro would turn the ropes for me and I’d lean in…and lean in…and lean in while the ropes slapped rhythmically on the ground. The ropes slapped and I leaned and my brother would yell “GO IN!” and I would. Then I’d overthink and step on the rope and my turn would be over. At school with my friends the next day, I’d pick up the ropes at recess and resume my role as rope-turner. Knowing that it was possible that I’d overthink and jump in awkwardly and step on the ropes and mess up completely erased any possibility that things might go the other way – I might actually do it. So, being afraid of that unknown, I chose to never jump in. Holding on to that fear taught me from a young age that you might feel safer, but you’ll have less fun and possess a nagging feeling of “shoulda woulda coulda” that doesn’t go away when the recess bell rings.
Ok. The sob story is over, but the point remains. I’m standing in the middle of a metaphorical double dutch game, and I’ve been leaning in…and leaning in…and leaning in, but now it’s time to jump. I’m no longer letting fear convince me that I don’t really need to do the thing that I know I need to do. I’m ready to face my fear, step out on faith, and let the ensuing experience stretch and mold me into an even more lived person. If I can remix Bassey’s phrase, I think my new motto will be “F*ck fear. Live anyway.” And what’s that Alicia Keys quote from the Element of Freedom album?
And the day came when the risk it took to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom. This is the element of freedom.
I see you, girl.
So, when’s the last time you did something that scared you? Have you ever taken a chance even though you couldn’t be sure what the outcome would be? Are you a more cautious person who thinks that the YOLO effect is overrated? Let me know!