I can’t tell you how many times in my life, I have been scared to death to do something and so instead of facing it, I just avoided it. As time would tick, the fears multiplied on themselves and my imagination would take over. The problem with avoiding things is, it tends to keep you stuck.
There are also those scary moments in life that can’t be avoided, but as you’re being thrown into facing your fears, you realize that everything your imagination ever promised you that could go wrong, only ever lived in your imagination. Somehow you manage to survive.
The more I am thrown into situations, the more I realize how adaptable I am. It isn’t always easy, but things always have a way of working themselves out. In general, we are all extremely adaptable when we need to be, and it took me moving to another country to remind me that I can and will adjust. You really find out what you’re made of when you are living outside of your comfort zone.
There are a couple of ways to look at fear. You can look at it as the enemy and you can avoid it, or you can look at it as an overprotective friend that is doing everything that they can to keep you safe. When you start to look at fear as an overprotective friend, it becomes a lot easier to say, “I appreciate your concern, but knock it off, I got this”!
That’s the thing about fear, it’s there to keep you safe. Your ego likes to creep in there and trick you into staying in place. It’s that little voice inside of your head that says “you can’t do (fill in the blank), you won’t be safe”. Knowing that, you can begin to learn to use your fear as a tool. Become better at asking your fear, “what are you here to show me”? There are times when your fear will be useful and keep you from dangerous situations and so it is good to question:
Is there really something to be scared of?
What is the worst thing that could happen if I face my fears?
Is my safety in jeopardy?
What do I have to gain from facing my fears?
You don’t have to face all of your fears overnight. Every single time you do something that scares you a little bit, celebrate it! Then, go back and try it again and again and again until it’s nothing. The more you face things that scare you, the more your confidence grows and the less scary they become.
Once you get that first thing that scares you, behind you, you’ll realize it wasn’t as bad as you had anticipated and then it becomes a little bit more exciting to take on the next challenge. Not only does facing your fears help you to keep growing as a person, it becomes a lot easier to accomplish big goals, grow your self confidence, leave bad situations, and open up new opportunities.
There was a time when I used to be scared to go out to dinner by myself. I was having a ridiculous food craving one night and it was either stay home and eat my cooking invention or go out alone since it was last minute and none of my friends were available. My food craving won and I went to sit at the bar as nervous as can be. While I sat there waiting for my food, I looked around at everyone else in the restaurant, only to find, nobody was paying attention. There were people watching sports on tv, some people with their noses buried in their phones, and other people caught up in their own conversations. Nobody cared! I survived my first experience eating out at a restaurant alone. It wasn’t so bad.
It took me many more times of doing that before it no longer freaked me out, but the odd part is, it is actually something that I have now come to love. I have met so many wonderful people or enjoyed the time sitting there reading alone with a good book. Once I got over that fear, my next fear to conquer was to travel alone which, I don’t think I ever would have been able to manage if I hadn’t overcome that first fear of being out to dinner alone.
I eventually booked a vegan cruise that I went on by myself and I ended up getting paired up with a super sweet roommate. I met so many amazing people on that trip that I still keep in touch with to this day. I think the trip was even better because I was alone. I had the flexibility to do what I wanted while connecting with people I might not have had the chance to connect with otherwise.
My next big step was to travel to another country alone. That was always something that seemed super intimidating, having to go somewhere with a different currency and different language. I talked to a ton of people and got a lot of advice until I finally worked up the courage, took the leap, and booked my first flight to another country alone. This week, one year ago, I actually moved to another country by myself and it has been an amazing experience (you can ready about it here) that I never would have had the guts to do if I hadn’t decided to feed my shrimp fajita food craving.
To this day, I still have that overprotective friend sneak up on me at times, but not nearly as often as before. It’s also become a lot easier to silence her. Find your courage and go do that thing that scares you. When you choose bravery over fear, you never know where your growing confidence could end up taking you. Mine took me to Spain.