It has been said that fear is a powerful motivator. I agree, which is why I titled this blog “Mostly Fearless.” But while that's the simple version of my title inspiration, there is definitely more to it. See, fear has long played a role in my life, often times too big a role. This blog is part of my continued attempts to address that.
Remembering a time in my life when fear wasn't a factor is difficult. Back then (as those of us old enough to remember the days of corded phones like to say) anxiety wasn't “a thing.” Well, actually it was, but it wasn't a recognizable disorder someone was diagnosed with. In my case, anxiety translated into me being afraid of everything from thunderstorms to the sound of snow falling off the slate roof of my childhood home.
As I grew older, heights, snakes, deep water, crowds, and heavy traffic on major highways became part of the ever-increasing list. Being a passenger in someone else's car was so terrifying for me I avoided it at all costs, only taking the right side seat if I could sleep through the trip.
Carrying fear around, however, is a weighty endeavor because all that anxiety keeps a person in a constant state of fight or flight. This is frustrating because when you're in that place there's no room to simply enjoy whatever moment you're in.
I started making small changes many years ago, but it was a family vacation in 2010 that proved the real catalyst for transformation. Since we were going on a cruise to places I'd never been, I decided before even setting foot on the boat that during the trip I would immerse myself fully in the adventure, giving everything I could a try even if it frightened me.
I ended up tackling the challenge with gusto, swimming with stingrays and tropical fish of various sizes, taking part in an utterly ridiculous on-board competition in front of hundreds of other travelers, and being the first to leap off the upper deck of the snorkeling vessel we were on, a plunge of at least 15 feet into the water below.
The effect of not only facing but overcoming certain fears on that trip was immense and continues to ripple through my life even now as each day, in some manner, I try to do something that takes me out of my comfort zone. Sometimes it's as simple as striking up a conversation with someone I don't know. Other times it's taking my paddleboard to a place I've not yet discovered (with careful prep).
The point isn't just to expand my horizons. It's to remind myself that while some fears are necessary and keep us safe (such as not tempting fate by swimming in shark-populated waters), letting go of those that no longer serve us is freeing.
While I'm certainly not reckless and engaging in foolish and downright stupid activities (driving drunk, not wearing a seat belt), I would rather die living than live dying. What does this mean? I'd rather live my life with joy and enthusiasm than let fears consume me and prevent me from knowing just how awesome life can be.
So welcome to Mostly Fearless, in which I'll mostly fearlessly delve into topics some might shy away from, such as bullying, LGBTQIA issues, mental illness, and whatever else I feel needs to be said. Who knows. Maybe I can inspire you to overcome some of your fears so that we can be mostly fearless together.