Danielle Navonne: a Writer, experiencing and sharing the journey of life one Word at a time.

Posts tagged ‘fear’

Do It Afraid

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.)

So whether it’s learning to swim, or starting a business, please stop waiting for the fear to leave you. That may never happen. Oftentimes you have to simply do it afraid.

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Decisions, Decisions

I was forced to make a pretty tough decision this week.

One hour I was 100% convinced that Option A was the right decision. The next hour I was equally convinced that Option B was the way to go. I went back and forth weighing the pros and cons of both options, trying to predict what the future would look like with each choice.

After that didn’t yield the clear answer I was hoping for, I spent the next few days doing the following:

  • I called my sister. I trust her decision-making, so I wanted her to decide for me. (Of course, since she’s such a good decision-maker, she decided not to make my decision for me. A good practice on her part, but sucked for me! Lol).
  • I called a girlfriend; she took the same approach as my sister.
  • I turned to my faithful friend, Google. I figured I’d find a discussion board or article about the topic, and let that guide my decision.
  • I prayed for God to show me the right decision.
  • I consulted my bookshelf, looking for a book that may provide some insight on the topic. No luck.

As hours – and then days – passed, I was having the same seesaw scene in my head. I realized that the fear of making the wrong decision had stopped me from moving forward with a decision at all. I was stuck.

In my frustration that all of the above efforts didn’t bring me any closer to a decision, I remembered a powerful statement about decision-making. I don’t remember it verbatim, but the gist was: the key to making a decision is making a decision. It sounds simple, but as my example above shows, we often get so stuck in the choosing process – the fork in the road – that we never actually choose and move forward.

Of course I get the importance of making the right life decisions (my back and forth process above shows that, lol), but I also understand 2 things:

  1. living life is about learning (from successes and failures), and
  2. living life is about living – about moving forward.

The above two philosophies support the theory that at some point in the decision-making process, deciding is key.

According to Wikipedia’s “Decision Making” page, to help us get to the point of decision, we often use some of the following techniques:

  • Pros and Cons: Listing the advantages and disadvantages of each option
  • Satisficing: Examining alternatives only until an acceptable one is found
  • Acquiescing to a person in authority/just following orders
  • Flipism: Flipping a coin (or some other random/coincidence method)
  • Prayer, tarot cards, astrology, meditation, or other forms of divination
  • Seeking advice from others
  • Opportunity cost: calculating the opportunity cost of each option

There are a lot of theories and schools of thought on the decision-making process. And in doing some very basic research on the topic, every single theory I found always included an action step. They all suggested that no matter the method, at some point, we must get to the point of making the decision.

There are a lot of things that keep us from actually deciding. For me, it’s perfectionism. I’d rather not do anything than to do something imperfectly. For others it may be fear, outside opinions, lack of confidence, not enough information, too much information, etc. Regardless of the barricade, at some point, a decision must be made (if we want to move forward).

I am a praying person, and while I recognize that this is not everyone’s practice, I’m often praying for God’s direction. Sometimes, I hear it loud and clear. But since I believe that God has given me free will, I have come to understand that He is not in the business of living my life for me. While I’m waiting for Him to tell me exactly what to do, He’s waiting for me to use the wisdom and resources that He’s given me to do something. And, it is His promise, to be there to walk with me as (and after) I choose. Simply put, while I’m waiting on Him to move, He’s often waiting on me to move.

While I don’t advise that we act in haste, I do advise that we act. We will never know every single “right” thing to do in life. Life is composed of the decisions we make, and the corresponding results. And if we make the “wrong” decision, we trust that there is a lesson, a chance to alter our decision, and/or the option to make a better decision next time.

Yes, you must count the cost, use wisdom, weigh the odds, be objective, know your options, have clear expectations, and be prepared for consequences. But sometimes you’ll never know the right decision until you decide. And often times, there is no right or wrong decision at all, there is simply a decision that is best (or not best) for us.

They say that hindsight is always 20/20; “hindsight” literally means looking back. We can’t look back on something that we’re still sitting in. So make a decision and move forward. We don’t know what will happen in life until we live it.

Remember: “even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there.” (-Will Rogers)

I’ll leave you with this song, from one of my all-time favorite artists. It came to mind this week and was very helpful as I was trying to decide which road to choose:

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