Thursday, February 14, 2019

How to Thrive in Intimidating Situations and Embrace Your Fear

Babies are born with two natural fears. The first is the fear of falling.  The second is loud noises.  This means that every other fear you have, you learned because through a bad experience,   I've been afraid most of my life.


Babies are born with two natural fears.

The first is the fear of falling.

The second is loud noises.

This means that every other fear you have, you learned because through a bad experience, 

I've been afraid most of my life.

At one point, I couldn't even admit that to myself because I was so afraid. People scared me. Relationships hurt me. Failure made me cave at the knees and weep.

For a long time, I thought that I couldn't write college level papers or handle a schedule full of classes + assignments + studying + my own creative projects. After graduating from high school, I took a gap year. This gap year wasn't extravagant. I didn't do much exploring through the country, but I did find myself falling into conversations with college graduates and even current college students that made me ponder.

Is it worth it? Should I be so afraid?

After a conversation with a camp leader I was working with at my church, I decided to do it. I signed up for my community college and spent my first semester full of stress, anxiety, and varying degrees of low self-esteem.

But I did it.

And now I'm here, less than one semester away from my Associate's. (Still working on balancing my creative life with my responsibilities, but so far so good!)

Here's how I survive intimidating situations and embrace my fear...

Acknowledge your fear

Ignorance never helped anyone.

Sometimes we will protect ourselves from fear so we don't have to acknowledge we're afraid. It sucks having to constantly go, "Oh look another thing to add to my list of fears" so our brains will go maybe if we don't acknowledge it, we won't feel so bad anymore!

EHHHHH

Wrong.

We'll still avoid the public situations, the new people, the decision-making, the steps toward independence, if we don't look at our fears, head on.

And yes, sometimes we don't know we're afraid. We hide it so well, even our own selves can't pick up on it.

But how to acknowledge our fears when we can't even recognize them?

Look at what you naturally avoid. Look at what makes you go LOL I AM NOT DOING THAT AGAIN.

You could make a fear list with actions you can do to combat your fears.

Pick your battles

Time after time, I've refused to try new things for fear of failing and looking like an idiot in front of other people. I realized this about myself when one of the kids I babysit offered me the remote to a little green hovercraft. My brain screamed NO NO YOU CAN'T DO IT YOU'LL CRASH IT YOU'LL BREAK IT YOU'LL--

Wait a second.

Was I really scared to fly a toy? Because I was afraid of what these kids would think? Because maybe I would crash it?

You bet I took the remote and flew that thing.

It's little situations like that where you have to be aware of your thoughts and fears. At that moment, I found victory against one of my fears and safely flew a little hovercraft. It may sound silly, but to discover I was holding myself back and then choose to breakthrough, adding another win to look back on, is very inspiring.

I don't recommend going full out and attempting to "cure" yourself of your fears in one fell swoop. You'll burn out. Instead, choose your battles wisely.

Don't aim to win all the time.

Aim to win the majority of the time.


Learn to fight the little voice in your head

We each have a voice that lives in our head. For a majority of us, it's rather loud and rings through your skull. "You can be doing more. You could be more productive if you didn't enroll in school. You can't get a degree without going to school. Why are you so lazy? Why are you trying so hard?"

It goes on and on and on in an exhausting loop that drains you of your willpower, motivation, and strength.

But the thing is, that little voice isn't always right. And I can help you turn that little voice off. Learn all the details here.

Take critiques (even the ones that hurt)

Whether these critiques are directed toward your work or someone else's, apply them. They will improve your approach to your work and help you grow faster as a creator, a student, or any other role you must step into.

It's also best not to take these critiques personally, something I still struggle with. Usually, when someone is trying to help you improve, it is not a judgment of your character but a suggestion for how you can better yourself when you try next time. Take hold of this opportunity to learn and grow.

Dive in (Feel the fear and do it anyway)

DO NOT WAIT FOR PERMISSION. I repeat, do not wait for permission. Sign up for the class; open the door; buy the supplies; do it alone it you have to.

You're thinking "but I must analyze it, I must make sure this is the right thing for me" -- but if it's been stuck on your mind for weeks and months, and you still haven't done it... you still crave to know if it's worth your time...

Do it.

Leap and then look.

It will be uncomfortable, because the water is never the right temperature when you plunge in. Sure, you may flail a little bit. But your friends sit nearby in a little paddle boat, cheering you on. Your family awaits with a life jacket.

You are not alone.

You will survive the dive, no matter what may come of it.

Please. At least try.



Remember, anyone can learn to...

Fill in the blank with what intimidates you.

Paint. Sew. Run a scientific experiment. Travel abroad. Publish a book. Speak out about your mental health journey. Attend graduate school.

For me, it's drawing -- anything that has to do with holding a creative utensil in my hand and creating lines across a paper or canvas.

IT SCARES ME.

Why? Because of the numerous times I've "failed" to depict something in my brain and put it down on paper. But right now, I'm taking a drawing class. I'm learning how to hone my artistic eye, take the critiques, and work through the fear.

My hands may shake every time I put the pencil to the paper, but I know I am capable -- I just have to make the first line, persevere, and apply what I learned last time.


What are you scared of?

Whether this fear is old or new, takes a little or a lot to overcome, please know this: I believe in you. Miraculous things are ahead on your journey to bravery.

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