“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.”
~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés, “Women Who Run With the Wolves”
It takes me by surprise when someone sees something I’ve done and comments on how brave I am. My snap response is to say that “I am the most terrified person I know.”
It seems like nothing is small enough to not cause me to respond with fear.
Yet fear usually doesn’t stop me from doing something, so maybe feeling terrified and doing the thing anyway does make a person brave.
If I let fear win, I would rarely leave my house. I wouldn’t be able to hold the job I have. I couldn’t fly on a plane. I would rarely talk to anyone beyond yes and no answers, because the fear of looking stupid or saying the wrong thing would freeze the words in my throat.
At times, my panic is so bad I think I’m going to pass out or even die from it. My chest gets tight. I get dizzy. My muscles twitch. My mouth goes dry. I get sick to my stomach. And my heart starts flapping around like a bird who’s trapped in the garage and is so panicked, they don’t see the open garage door that I’m coaxing them towards.
I do the same thing with myself. There is a lot of coaxing going on here… “Come on Maery, doing something is better than doing nothing. So do something.”
Sometimes, the things I do are my attempt to cover up just how uncertain of myself I am. So why give myself away by writing about fear?
Because I don’t like being ashamed of my personality or the things that I like or the things that I don’t like. So I rebel by questioning the belief that certain personality types and ways of being in this world are more valuable than others.
There’s nothing wrong with baby steps and with taking it slow. People who are able to do things without ever worrying about them, they are not better, stronger people. They are just wired differently.
It helps that I’m as old as I am and have enough experience to know that I won’t die from fear. And if I face it, I’ll have gotten to do something I want or need to do. If I just take one step after another forward I can get past that fear and stop feeling it. I can quit obsessing about “What am I going to do?” or “How will I do that?”
And move on to something else, which may or may not carry the fear factor with it.
Even though fear doesn’t actually go away for good, like I wish it would, I’m more comfortable with it. More willing to push through it because along the way, I’ve discovered that most of the time, what I do turns out okay. Even when it doesn’t, because I made a mistake or ran into an unexpected obstacle, I can think through it and come up with a solution.
Or call it a lesson learned…