When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.~Audre Lorde
I’ve realized something interesting the past few weeks. Now get ready because I’m pretty open, but in all honesty I’ve been holding on so tightly to this one I didn’t even know it existed. It seems impossible, but it’s true.
I have to be in control of myself all times … of my feelings, of my life, of my actions and responses, and of my surroundings. I have to be able to have control of the outcome or I freak out. I have also realized that a need for control equates to fear and that fear has kept me stuck many times… in a job, in various relationships, in a certain lifestyle, and in this city. There are some very important truths in this that have to be recognized. If you keep doing what you’re doing and avoid facing your fears, you will keep getting what you’re getting…stuck. If we want things to change, we have to let go of control and allow them to. The "devil you know" approach isn’t going to cut it anymore.
I’ve decided it’s time to take another step and face some fears head on. Some of them just don’t fit with me anymore.
Fear one: fear of flying. I’m not afraid the plane will crash, I don’t hate taking off or landing, or the long-ass process of taking your seat and jamming your carry on in the overhead bin or people pushing and shoving (well ya, I kind of hate that). I’m claustrophobic plain and simple. I hate enclosed spaces and I hate the fact that I don’t have a choice to get off. The long drive down the runway getting ready to take off is the worst. But am I going to avoid travel, one of my favorite things to do, because I am afraid of enclosed spaces? I have in the past, one time I even got off the plane – sheer panic when they closed the door and bolted back into the airport after a wild fist hammering on the door. But I’ve removed that as an option. Now, the only option I allow myself is to take my seat and deal. I put my ipod in my lap and whip open my book and shove my face one inch from the page and read the same page the entire flight because I have to distract myself. When that stops working I listen to my ipod. And when I start to panic and the fight-or-flight response kicks in and there is no option to get off because we are "trapped" in the air, I repeat to myself "just breathe". They say it only takes 10 seconds for the fear to release itself. I can do anything for ten seconds. If all else fails, I slam my head between my knees and hope for the best. People look at me like I’m insane but goddamnit I’m on the plane and I’m staying put! I’m still affraid, but I’m doing it anyways because I have to. I have to do it for myself, for my spirit, and for my career.
Fear two: public speaking. I’ve chosen to fail assignments in high school rather than do it, flat out refused to make presentations at previous jobs, and hyperventilated once reciting an oral in elementary school. Dramatic; yes I can admit it. It’s a fear, it’s not rational. I hate people looking at me, I fear being asked a question and not being prepared with an answer, saying the wrong thing, stumbling on my words, hyperventilating again, you name it, I’m sure there is another reason I can tack on to the list. Plus add on the fact that I’m a ‘low talker’ and you get the resounding "What did she say, what is she saying I can’t hear her, can you speak up". It hits a nerve, it’s like when people ask me to repeat myself. Listen, I know I’m quiet; there is a reason. I’m fucking shy!!!! My sister knows this about me. All we have to do is look at each other when my mother asks me to repeat myself and she answers for me because she knows my rage is kicking in. It’s family support at it’s finest. I could use her around more often. Off track again. The point of this rambling is that I did a presentation this week by myself for my boss. I flew to Ottawa to make a presentation he could no longer make. I didn’t give myself the option to say ‘no’ – that would have been a very silly career move. I was in a panic for a week and barely slept the night before, but knowing inside that I refused to let him down didn’t allow me the make the choice to mess it up. I released control of the actual outcome and I put my big girl pants on one leg at a time that day. It all worked out. I killed two birds with one stone in one week, and afterwards went to the bar and had a Grey Goose on the rocks with a twist…and a stimulating conversation with a soldier. I must say both helped a great deal.
I realize these aren’t pat on the back, medal worthy feats of strength but I made a promise to my self for 2010 and I intend to keep it. I’m going to keep marching on this path and start stepping out of my shell. I’m going to start breaking down the wall a brick at a time. I’m going to push myself to do the things that scare me and do things that are going to help me grow into the woman I know I am. I can’t grow if I don’t push myself, I’m finally aware of this. I have a lot of work to do. These are just two of my very basic fears, but they are steps and I feel better for having nudged myself and not avoided these uncomfortable situations. There are a lot of situations in life that are going to cause us a great deal of discomfort. Change is uncomfortable. It is up to us whether we want to push through that unease, or back off and wait a bit. Either way the choice is ours to make when we are ready to commit. Please don’t judge yourself on your decision we are all doing the best we can.
I’m very unsettled to say the least, but staying stuck just isn’t working. Letting go of the wheel is causing me to panic a bit, but holding on white-knuckled has become too exhausting. I’m going to trust the universe to keep presenting me with opportunities for growth, and I hope I can trust you to hold my hand and lead me when I get off track :).