You know how Cheryl Strayed says “Put yourself in the way of beauty”? Well apparently I’m determined to put myself in the way of uncomfortable, panic-inducing situations, of which I’m terrified.
This has been a recent trend for me over the last couple years; from trying contact improv dance classes to hanging off the CN tower, I’ve been dedicated to these ventures of what I’ve come to call fear-seeking.
And here I go again. I just signed up to do a public reading of childhood writing at a live show called “Adults Read Things They Wrote As Kids”. It’s a podcast I have been listening to for a long time that I really enjoy. I have always thought it would be a cool thing to do – reading my former-self’s writing has always been amusing to me. So when I received the email in my inbox two hours ago, I took the leap and filled out my information to be a reader before my mind could talk me out of it.
And now I’m sitting here asking myself, “What did I just do?? Why do I keep doing this myself?!”
Sure, I have always thought it would be a cool thing to do in theory. But I hate.. absolutely HATE public speaking. I hate being the center of attention in a crowd. It makes me breathless and slightly nauseous just thinking about it. And, unlike the latest public speaking fear-seeking opportunity I said yes to, this isn’t advancing my business. In fact, it would almost seem pointless – like I’m torturing myself for no reason at all.
So why? Why am I so addicted to fear-seeking?
I’ve been thinking about this and I believe it’s my personal FUCK YOU to fear. I’ve become agonizingly aware of just how much fear has ruled my life and now that I am in control – I want to push back. I don’t just want to go along doing the many little, yet significant, things that help me hold my own, go after what I want, and live my values, I want to prove to myself that I can do all things that fear holds me back from. I want to prove just how much fear cannot stand in my way.
Consciously jump into situations that make my head swirl with fears and panic, and come out on the other side. Reassure myself I can survive it. Solidify the notion that the level of fear FELT does not determine my ABILITY to persevere.
The idea of doing these things before would have been met with a swift “I COULD NEVER DO THAT!”, “If only I wasn’t such a scaredy cat”, “If only I wasn’t shy”, “If only I didn’t suffer from panic attacks”.. and the list goes on.
But now my desire to be this “fear can’t stop me” superwoman makes me seek out these opportunities to prove to myself – especially that part of me that still goes into overdrive imagining stumbling over my words on stage – that I actually, CAN DO WHATEVER THE FUCK I WANT TO – regardless of those doubts and judgments, regardless of my ongoing battle with anxiety and panic attacks, regardless of fear and all the uncomfortableness it brings. Fear can’t stop me anymore.
It seems these big events, these times I shove my awesomeness (or at least my “I’m doing it regardless” attitude) in the face of fear – the more it’s getting the message that it’s not in control. The more I’m owning my life.
These events, though they may seem insignificant, ridiculous, or perhaps even ludicrous to others, are substantial to my journey because they are declarations of my commitment to my dragon self. It’s me, proving to myself once again that FEAR is no obstacle (please note I did not say FEAR is nonexistent). FEAR is not the one controlling what I do and don’t do, who I am and who I’m not. It doesn’t define me.
These declarations not only help me commit over and over to be the person I want to be, they act as anchors when I doubt my ability to pursue the life I want.
Fear is a part of my life, often a bigger part than I’d like, but when it comes down to it – its existence is becoming more and more inconsequential. It’s a passenger on my bus. I can accept that it will always have a seat, but it is extremely empowering to drive where I want – and know the only thing it can do is squeal from the background.
In fact, what I have found from examining this fear-seeking behaviour, is that it seems my fear is actually motivating me to take new paths – to test just how much squealing I can put up with and still drive the bus.
A life of courage, where I choose to courageously and unwaveringly be the dragon and go after the life I want. A life where I don’t reject fear’s existence, but fully reject being controlled by it.
So, November 5th I’m set to take the stage. My voice may shake and I may fall flat on my face walking up to the mic, but I will do it all as the fear-seeking dragon I have become.