When my boyfriend, Jeff saw that I was about to unload Niagara Falls, he quickly told me, “You don’t have to do this babe!”
Let me back things up a bit. Since I pretty much live in NASCAR, USA it’s inevitable that I’d find friends in racing. You know what people in racing like to do in their spare time when they have a day off from the 40 or so weekends they spend at the track?
Yeah, my friends have a go-cart league. It sounds totally stupid, but they’re ridiculously organized about it. In addition to weigh-ins, trophies and fire suits, they have these ESPN-style videos where they show the action from the track and conduct interviews. A few months ago they had this brilliant idea to have their girlfriends (or girl friends) qualify for the guys. Basically, wherever we finished, would be the position where our guy would start.
Great idea—if your girlfriend is Dale Earnhardt’s niece or something.
On my first day of practice, I decided to be fearless. Listen to Jeff and go full throttle. Which would have been an awesome plan if it had been a drag race—not an outdoor cart race with 11 tight turns. Immediately after I started racing, I decided I hated go-carting and didn’t want to be doing it anymore. Then I flew around the sharpest turn wayyy too fast, sailed off the track, accelerated for some crazy reason and slammed into and under the barrier made of water-filled plastic. Jeff was convinced I’d snapped my neck. Luckily, I was wearing a neck brace and according to the scuffed paint, my helmet definitely served its purpose. The cart was all scratched up and I’d broken the seatbelt mount.
I wasn’t hurt physically, but I felt traumatized. Fucking traumatized.
When Fear Says Hi
Sure there are things that you’re simply afraid of. Heights, spiders, and revolving doors…these you can avoid at all costs if you want, for the mere fact that they just scare the shit out of you. It’s rare that fear will pop up unannounced, whether it is something you know scares you or not.
Maybe you’re afraid to start a business that could potentially fail. Perhaps you’re scared that guy you bump into at Starbucks every Thursday will reject you. Or you want to learn to scuba dive this year but are terrified of the ocean.
Whatever your fear may be, look it dead in the eye when it waves and say “hi” back.
Break it Down
Now that you’ve acknowledged your fear, write down all the horrible things that could happen if you were to face it. What about it causes that feeling to well up in the pit of your stomach?
In regards to the go-cart, I was essentially afraid of sucking. If there’s something I’m not good at, I’ll teach myself without any witnesses until I’m pretty good. Then I’ll let the world see. Obviously, crashing is pretty fucking scary—but I was more afraid of crushing my pride than the possibility of handicapping or killing myself. Which would definitely happen if I crashed again.
Examine Your Opponent
Now that you’re staring at your list, take a look at each point. Yes, starting a business and possibly getting into debt will suck. That guy telling you no when you ask him out will certainly dent your ego. Getting eaten by a shark would really ruin your vacation. These are all pretty solid reasons to be afraid.
Now examine both the likelihood and the severity of the outcome.
Starting a business doesn’t mean you need to just jump off the high dive and quit your day job. Sure businesses fail all the time, but you aren’t just going to wake up tomorrow, take on a random investor, do everything wrong and then be up to your eyeballs in a sea of debt and ruined dreams. No. You’re going to consider your options, educate yourself, make a plan, stick to the plan and work your ass off until you succeed. And what if you still fail? Yeah that sucks, but you’ve gained a ton, of experience and know what to change for next time.
Consider your options, educate yourself, make a plan, stick to the plan and work your ass off!
Asking that guy out doesn’t have to be scary. So what if he says no? It probably has very little to do with you. He could have a wife or a girlfriend. He could have made a vow to never go on dates with girls he meets at Starbucks. Or it could have something to do with you and that he doesn’t find girls with the color of your hair attractive. Oh well! It’s really no skin off your nose–there’s plenty of other guys.
The odds of you getting eaten by a shark, especially with a company that frequently takes groups out to sea is so far beyond unlikely it’s ridiculous. Car accidents are 100 times more likely to occur and you aren’t afraid of driving right? Listen to the instructors, stay with the group and block all those Jaws movies out of your mind.
For me, I’d already crashed in probably the worst way possible, so physical injury-wise, I wasn’t all that afraid anymore. I just didn’t want to be terrible. I had to consider the fact that these are my friends and they could care less if I’m not the world’s greatest go-carter and the other people there that I didn’t know? Well, they don’t matter at all. I studied the color-coded map Jeff gave me, listened to his coaching of where to break, turn and accelerate, went back out there and managed two more practice runs (and yes, that was when I was ready to burst into tears).
Now Aim for the Face
What if you start that business, work hard and achieve the kind of success you only dreamed about when you had your 9-5?
What if you ask that guy out and he turns out to be your future husband?
What if scuba diving becomes a new passion of yours and you end up traveling to exotic locales to pursue it?
What if you get your ass back in that go-cart, complete the race, hug your boyfriend who’s beaming with pride and feel so accomplished because you kicked fear in the face?
If you don’t take the risk, if you don’t open the door, you seal yourself off from potentially amazing possibilities. You stunt your personal growth and limit your future happiness. Attacking your fears will also make you feel more alive and remind you that yes, you can truly accomplish anything.
How do you kick fear in the face? Tell us your bad ass ways!
*This article was first published in the January 2014 issue of Indie Chick Magazine.*
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