Day Twenty-Five: I’ve been thinking a lot about fear. Fear and all her sisters- anxiety, doubt, panic, worry, procrastination. The last couple weeks have been filled with this overwhelming feeling of horror but today, I woke up feeling grateful for the fear I have been experiencing.
Fear strips of me everything, especially lately. I don’t want to leave my house to do anything and when I do have to leave, the task feels like a chore. I can pair my fear with pretty much any event going on in my life- I’m scared to meet new people (or even old friends) and have nothing cool to say so I’m not going to go out. I’m scared that my resume looks like crap so I’m not going to get a decent job. I’m terrified about the unknown- if Steve breaks up with me, if I embarrass myself trying to do something new, if I run out of money- then, I curl up in a ball and cry for most of the day.
I just finished “My Year with Eleanor.” The author, Noelle Hancock, was obsessed with Eleanor Roosevelt and wasn’t digging the life she was living. Hancock was a workaholic, a bit of a shut-in and rarely had adventures. After getting laid off, she saw the following quote by the former First Lady in a coffee shop: “Do something every day that scares you.” So, Hancock got busy- she skydived, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, asked exs why their relationships ended. The book at times was a bit cheesy but it did give me the strength to think about what I’m most afraid of and think of how I can change that.
A friend told me that fear and excitement are the same physiological states for your body and these feelings can be easily switched. Your mind can make the switch between those states much easier than between feeling anxious and calm. Last night, I remembered that as I went through rehearsal for the play I’m in. It was only a dress rehearsal but I already felt the need to vomit. I carry a good chunk of the second act and when I choked and forgot my lines, a tear fell out of each eye and I wanted to run off stage. But I took a deep breath, looked over at my actor playing my husband who mouthed my cue word and I went on with my monologue. I spoke my lines slow, looked out to the audience and pictured my mom watching, cheering me on. My fear morphed into excitement and I threw myself into my character.
I spent the last few hours thinking about all the courageous moves I made in my life. I’ve climbed and fell out of trees. I’ve traveled alone. I moved all over the country without knowing a single soul. I’ve surfed in the ocean after a shark sighting. I survived rehab and multiple dark periods. I’ve wrote difficult but moving pieces. I’ve loved with great conviction. I’m doing this play, for crying out loud! I know that I have several ounces of courage in me, not just one. I just have to remember that courage is a muscle; it’s strengthened by use. You must have courage to live the life you want and kick fear aside. Someone who is truly fearlessness is person who is terrified but does it anyway- and that is the person I intend to be.