“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt
I’ll be honest with you: the past week or so has been..unique.
I guess it all began with Sheryl Sandberg. In her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, she poses the question, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”. Her words really resonated with me… and they got me thinking. What would I do? What am I afraid of?
I’m someone who likes to think of myself as being confident and assertive, whereas “afraid” is not an adjective I’d usually use to describe myself. That’s not to say that I don’t have fears; I’m just not regularly burdened by them (which is great). When I do face a situation which gets my heart racing with anticipation, nervousness or fear my go-to tactic is to inhale deeply and then plunge right into it. Then I pop out on the other side and I’m nearly always fine.
Except.. Sheryl’s question made me realise that there were and are certain situations which I have been avoiding, subconsciously or otherwise because I was afraid. See, I reasoned that there wasn’t much of a need to scare myself on a frequent basis. It simply didn’t occur to me that I would be able to gain so much from embracing fear, no matter how small or trivial it seemed.
Two things came to mind straight away when I read Sheryl’s question: firstly, I needed to have an above-the-line conversation in order to move forwards with or onwards from a particular relationship and secondly, I really needed to bite the bullet and donate blood.
The past week has been punctuated with quite a few above-the-line conversations. I’m unsure whether that’s a term that other people use (??) so if not, by “above-the-line” I mean an open, honest conversation which is necessary in order for both parties to understand each other and, ultimately, to be able to move in a positive direction. Generally, they’re the kind of conversations which I wouldn’t mind avoiding because they are not always particularly pleasant or fun to deliver or digest. However, I nearly always feel better after them..
My recent above-the-line conversations pertained to a wide-range of areas in my life and one of them in particular was about as enjoyable as slamming my hand in a car door. I guess I was afraid of how the people I was talking to would respond and subsequently, the future. However, I got through them all alive and unscathed. Hooray!
Interestingly, I came away from these conversations with different outcomes to what I had hoped for, but now that I’ve had a few days to sit with it all I’m really happy with what has come from them. I have closure (which I’ve realised is really important to me) and I’m able to move forwards, which has seen my mind get giddy with dreams and plans. I also feel excited to go and find more little fears to conquer as I’ve realised that pushing through my fears, regardless of their size, is essential to my growth as a person and ultimately, achieving my goals and fulfilling my dreams. Could I have crammed more clichés into that last phrase? Hmm. Unsure.
However, before I go onto to tackle my next fear I need to man up and give blood. I can handle needles for a short period of time, but the prospect of ten minutes in my arm has never really appealed to me and I have thus, avoided it like the plague for multiple years. But I’m going to organise that tomorrow. I will. I’ve got blood which is fine to give and there are lots of people who need it, so I really have no excuse. Anyway, it can’t be more excruciating than telling someone how you feel about them under the cold, harsh light of a 7-Eleven. Right? Right??
So, how about you? What would you do if you weren’t afraid?