Reframing Fear

They say the only thing to fear is fear itself.  Sometimes I wonder if I missed out on the fear gene … and I sometimes wonder whether that’s good or bad.   On the down side, I’ve gotten hit by a car twice on my bike because, as a kid I’d fly downhill like a bat out of hell without fear of what else was coming my way. I loved the feeling of wind on my face. I do the same thing when I ski. I go as fast as I can downhill just trying to stay upright. Sometimes it ends in a garage sale, and sometimes it ends gracefully. Thankfully there are no cars on the slopes.  I am not scared of injury and I’m not scared of failure.

So, recently, I’ve stopped to ask myself why? Why do I get back on that bike, or back on the slopes, or apply to the hardest schools … I think it’s because I’m such a ridiculous optimist that I believe the best is going to happen.  If you don’t try, the answer is no anyway.  I look for the joy and I don’t even stop to think about the other stuff. Sure, we all have our moments when we let fear creep in, but I can probably count them on one hand.

There was the time I got dropped off after soccer at my grandma’s house and she wasn’t home. I was about 10 or 11 and was convinced that I was going to get kidnapped. I walked to my aunts house a few blocks away but they weren’t home either. This is when I really lost it and knocked on her neighbor’s door sobbing – like ugly cry sobbing – asking if I could use the phone to call my dad. Thankfully, said neighbor was not a crazy kidnapper but a nice old lady who let me help her wrap Christmas presents until my dad came and picked me up. Then there was the time I was fourteen and my mom said they found a breast lump and she was going in for a biopsy. I remember literally crumpling on the kitchen floor when no one was home – again SOBBING, the kind of crying you can’t stop that doesn’t even sound like it’s coming from you – imaging myself graduating from high school and college without my mom, getting married without my mom there and having babies without my mom. It was unbearable. I remember picking myself off that floor after a good 30 min in fear that someone would come home and see me, so I finally pulled it together. My mom was fine, turns out she put garlic on it and literally burnt it off her skin. (I do NOT recommend this by the way) but the doctor said everything cleared out and crazy Greek medicine won that round.  And only last year I remember being gripped with fear when Kiki crashed into the wall running down the hallway after complaining of headaches for months and told me between tears that all of a sudden she couldn’t see. I called the pediatric opthamologist and got her an appointment the next morning. I’ll never forget cooking dinner listening to the kids play outside and laughing with their dad thinking that this could be the last happy moment in my life. I was SCARED. I thought for sure she had a brain tumor.  Turns out it was literally nothing but an uncoordinated 7 year old running into a wall. Thank God everything was fine and I hadn’t been brushing off symptoms for months.

Ok, so three times when I really felt fear. That gripping, stop you in your tracks fear. For almost 38 turns around this sun, I’m gonna say I’m pretty darn lucky to only have three scary moments. I wasn’t afraid to travel to Europe alone, I wasn’t afraid to apply to law schools or appear in court for the first time. I wasn’t scared to get married or become a mom. I really look at everything as an adventure and a joy. I almost never let that dark shadowy side stop me. You can’t live life in the “what if’s” and you certainly cannot go into every situation with the worst case scenario playing out. You’re most likely not going to get kidnapped walking home and most headaches aren’t brain cancer.

What have you always wanted to do that you were too scared to try?

You can’t let the fear of getting hit by a car stop you from riding your bike. Maybe it’s a hard way to learn that jelley’s aren’t good biking shoes and that you should stop at intersections (that one took me two times to learn)… but never once did I even consider not getting back on my bike. That bike is life. You’re gonna get knocked down and bruised and battered, but you have to get back up. Learn the lesson and be better next time. Know that next time you are more prepared for what life throws at you. Know how strong you truly are. Be excited for the test and the next challenge.  Don’t be scared. Know that every scary thing is an opportunity to grow and prove to yourself and those around you just how strong, how resilient, how powerful you are.  The scary situations – whether it’s putting yourself out there for a new job, making new friends, quitting your job to stay home, trying a new work out, having a baby or choosing not to – those are the things that define us. You need to ask yourself whether you’re ok, just being ok. If the answer is no, push yourself to do the things you really want and don’t look at it as scary, see the opportunity. You never know if you don’t try and please don’t give up if it doesn’t turn out the way you thought the first time. 

Happy October. No fear.

The Angie + Dr. Cap