My Story of Overcoming FearExpose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free. ~Jim Morrison
I was pacing back and forth after the plans were almost finalized.
I was going, finally, to meet this guy who I’ve been chatting with from an online dating site–my first foray into the world of online dating!
As soon as I hung up the phone with him, I was trying to talk myself out of going. I was trying to think of the possible reasons why I had to cancel.
The lame excuses included: I had to take my cat to the vet. There was a work deadline I had to meet. I came down with the flu.
Why was I being such a “Sissy La-La” about this?
I was afraid.
All the “what-ifs” came barreling right at me.
What if he didn’t like me?
What if I repulsed him?
What if I reveal something embarrassing about myself (like my paralyzing fear of bunnies–true story!)?
What if we had nothing to say to each other?
Other than a few casual dates, this was my first time back in the dating scene since my big breakup.
If you’ve met me, you would be surprised I had such an adverse reaction to social settings. Off the bat, you’d probably think I’m outgoing and bubbly.
Dating wasn’t the only time I’ve ever felt anxious about putting myself out there.
I’ve gotten invitations to parties and my first thought would be, “Oh no, I have mingle and socialize?!?”
To be honest, the thought of being vulnerable and showing people the real me, scared the bejeezus out of me.
I’ve always envied people who had no problem being the center of attention, making people laugh with their interesting stories and witty remarks. To this day, I still wonder how the art of conversation and storytelling seem so effortless for some people.
Usually at parties, I was the quiet girl sitting at the end of the table; slowly sipping her third cocktail (just to make the situation more tolerable… all while desperately hoping that the “liquid courage” would kick in) while everyone was caught up in other conversations.
I would try to join conversations with remarks that no one would hear or I would do my best to feel included by laughing at times when it seemed appropriate.
The fear of rejection prevented the real me from showing up in my relationships. Most times I was uptight, tense, and my interactions with people were somewhat shallow and forced.
I felt like such a phony and a loser.
I began to decline invitations and avoid social gatherings all together.
It’s not just in romantic situations where this fear resides. Fear of rejection and not being enough prevented me from applying for a job, applying for a school or buying that trendy hat I saw at the store–fearing the ridicule.
The pain from my past and my limiting beliefs formed my fears.
Some of my inherent beliefs that said I wasn’t smart enough, pretty enough, good enough and most of all, I wasn’t worth of my wants, made me act from a place of mere self-preservation.
I avoided feeling vulnerable, taking risks and showing people the “real me.”
When the pain of my reality was more painful than the act of changing…
I knew I couldn’t live that way any longer.
The night before my big date, I accidentally left my phone beside the swimming pool in my apartment complex, which was already locked up for the evening behind a tall metal fence.
A part of me was relieved. I thought, “Hey! What do you know! This could be my excuse to not show up because I didn’t have access to my phone to confirm the time and location.”
And then a small voice told me told me that there was only one thing I could do.
With a grumbling sigh, I climbed over the fence, with my back pressed against the wall, and I slowly shimmied my way towards the pool’s entrance. I scaled the two inch-wide ledge that kept me from falling face first into the pavement. I was 8 feet above ground and if I slipped, then I would have really had an excuse to cancel on him.
When I got to my phone, I felt an immense triumph washed over me.
That night happened over four years ago.
And to this day, the man I almost flaked out on and I laugh whenever I retell this story.
I learned that pain in life is inevitable but suffering is optional.
It’s what you do AFTER the pain that’s important.
No one likes to feel rejected after being vulnerable. But holding onto that pain will prevent you from ever moving your life in a forward direction.
When you’re focusing on the “what ifs” in life and what you DON’T want to happen, your fears will paralyze you–most likely validating what you feared most.
By focusing on where you want to go, instead, you’ll come up with ways on HOW to get there.
Just like how I did that night.
If I never scaled that fence to retrieve my phone and confirm my date in time, I never would have started a life with a man I love more each and every day.
When we allow our fears to have their hold on us, we miss out on the beauty of life… and the possibilities of tomorrow.