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12.23.2011

staring down fear.


Heights. Spiders. Flying. Elevators. Snakes. Public Speaking. Traffic. Death.

Fear. It stops us in our tracks. Creates a pit in our stomach. Makes us cringe. We dodge it when we can, but there are times it's unavoidable. We have no choice but to face it head on, guns blazing.

Sometimes we grow out of our fears. Throughout childhood and well into adolescence, I was terrified of elevators. My poor parents would have no choice but to take the stairs when we went into tall buildings- didn't matter if we had to visit the 3rd floor or the 40th. It didn't help that during one family trip during my youth, my brother was tricked by his little friends into getting into an elevator by himself. I watched in horror as the door slid shut, thinking of course, I would never see him again. I cried and carried on for what seemed like hours. My brother was gone forever! The truth was that my mom realized what had occurred, and she spent more time trying to calm me down than she did worrying about my little brother. She knew her 7 year old son was smart enough to stay on the elevator and that someone would "return him." And sure enough, she was right. Within 3 minutes, up came the elevator and the door opened to reveal my little brother with the biggest smile on his face. A nice couple had called the elevator a few floors down from us, and when the door opened to a cute little blonde boy all by his lonesome, they promptly returned him to where he belonged. We were in a family oriented hotel for gosh sake- it made no difference to me though. I thought nothing but the worst, and why? Because elevators scared the living hell out of me.

 I don't recall what specifically allowed me to overcome my fear; although I'm sure at some point I grew embarrassed of what my peers and friends thought of the girl that would climb the stairs for several minutes because she refused to take a 30-second elevator ride. I didn't grow out of my fear overnight, I can tell you that much. It took years. But I tried and tried, and as much as I may not love elevator trips now, at least I make them without going into hysterics. It may seem silly to some, but I think the word proud is an understatement- especially when I am standing in the lobby of a building knowing I have to go to the 16th floor...and I won't be walking up.

Of course, not all my fears disappeared as easily as that one. And I've picked up several more fears as I've traveled through life based on exposure and experiences; movies, media, education.

One of the most honorable traits in a person is their willingness to face their darkest fears and attempt to overcome them once and for all. The person who is terrified of speaking in public, but decides to take a class in public speaking...where weekly speeches are required. The person who is scared of death, but agrees to visit their local graveyard on a field trip. The person who is scared of flying, but books a plane ticket home to visit their sick grandmother. The person who is terrified of being alone, but ends an abusive relationship. The person who is terrified of the unknown, but starts trying new things. It takes immense courage to even stand up in the face of fear, let alone truly succeed in overcoming it. It's about taking small steps in the right direction. Proving to ourselves that we can do anything we set our minds to. Refusing to let that fear run our lives any longer.

It may be painful. It may be embarrassing. It may result in sweat and tears. An upset stomach. Passing out. But what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger. Trying and failing is a hell of a lot better than never trying at all. It's commendable to witness someone staring fear in the eye. We all have them, and we can all relate. So go, today, and do something about one of your fears. Attempt. Try. Push. Challenge. And at least if we're still scared after, we can't say we didn't try.

2 comments:

Breanna said...

so true :)

I used to be afraid to drive :/
Ha I know, but you'd be happy to know I can now drive through a big city without totally freaking out :)

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Merry Christmas!

meghan said...

Oh my goodness, I get nervous with elevators too!! And I also am terrified of flying...I still have to do it all the time for work, I just get anxiety each time!

Merry Christmas!

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megs [at] Shine On