Exhibit A: Years ago, I placed an “intruder” call to 9-1-1, after hearing a loud thump in my house. The noisemaker ended up being a sack of potatoes that had fallen from the counter to the floor. (True story, lol.)
Exhibit B: More recently, I called my mother because I needed help getting rid of a huge bug on my closet floor. After 45 minutes of strategizing a plan for getting rid of the critter, I realized that it was merely a piece of a plastic. (Embarrassingly, also a true story, lol.)
If you know me personally, you know that I can be a scaredy cat. If you don’t know me personally, I present to you Exhibits A & B: I can be a scaredy cat. Lol. Now that we’re all equally informed, let’s fast forward to my decision to jump out of a plane 13,500 feet in the air…
I had recently turned 30 and had decided that I needed to do something big. I had also been trying to overcome a few fears, and being the extremist that I am, I decided that the only way to conquer fear was to do the scariest thing out there: skydive. (I know there are a lot of other things between total fear and jumping out of an airplane, but I have a hard time with gray areas, lol).
The weeks and days leading up to the skydiving date, I still hadn’t fully decided whether or not I would do it. On the actual day of the jump, I told my skydiving group to leave without me. I wasn’t feeling well, nor was I sure that I was ready to do it. But after they got on the road, I remembered all the conversations I’d been having with myself about fear, and something told me to just do it afraid.
So I called the group, told them I was 30 minutes behind them (it was about a 90-minute drive), and I hopped in my car. It wasn’t so much about the skydiving at this point, but about what it represented for me. See, every time I’m afraid of something, I usually just don’t do it. I walk the other way and never face it. So to not even go to the skydiving site was repeating the same behavior I‘d been trying to conquer.
Once at the site (and after a 90-minute talk with Jesus in my car, lol), I’d resolved not to think about it anymore, but to just go forward with it. To do it afraid. But once that plane started going up and I realized my only way out was to jump, I froze.
When the doors opened, I heard my skydiving instructor, Bill, give the cue that we’d gone over in the pre-jump safety course: “One, two, three.” I didn’t move, nor did I plan to. After his 2nd count, I decided to move. Not to jump, but to grab the overhead bars inside the plane. That way I’d be sure that my body did not exit the plane. I told Bill (very seriously) that I’d prefer to just ride back down with the pilot. Luckily (and maybe unluckily), before we went up, I told Bill that I wanted to overcome the fear, so he politely ignored my suggestion.
I kept hearing, “do it afraid.”
And I realized in that moment that not only was I holding up my own progress, but there were 4 ladies behind me, waiting their turn. A lot of times our fear not only paralyzes us, it causes us to paralyze others.
So I decided to let go of the pole. I have to admit that I wasn’t brave enough to actually jump; I was only brave enough to let go of the pole. My letting go was my indication to Bill that if he nudged me, I’d go.
Sometimes that’s all it takes: letting go. Once you let go of the fear, you may find that God and the universe will gently nudge you into the next steps.
When people see my skydiving pictures, they call me brave and courageous. I’ve never considered myself the brave type. I cover my eyes during scary movies, and I sleep with a nightlight if I hear one too many noises in my building. But I’m starting to realize that I am indeed brave and courageous. Not because I’m any less scared, but because I’m slowly stepping out and doing the things that freak me out.
“Courage is not the absence of fear. That idea is the biggest BS in the world. Fear is impossible to eradicate. If you were completely fearless, you’d be dead. People who are courageous are scared to the core—they just make themselves go forward anyway; they make themselves take some kind of action. Taking action, even though you’re afraid, is how you become courageous—because courage, like fear, is a habit. The more you do it, the more you do it, and this habit—of stepping up, of taking action—more than anything else, will move you in a different direction.” (Tony Robbins)
Many children are afraid on their first day of school, but their parents don’t let them stay home. They make them go. Only once the child faces the fear, and goes to school afraid does s/he see that it’s not so scary.
When new parents are afraid of becoming new parents, they don’t get to leave the baby in until they’re ready. After 9 months, ready or not, new parents are forced to do it afraid. It’s not until they’re in it that they realize that it’s not so scary. (Or maybe it is, I don’t know, I don’t have children, but you get my point. Lol.)