My friend, Fear

I’ve learned to recognize my fear. It shows up every day, in many different ways. And it never fails to show up when I do the things I’ve always dreamed of.

My heart’s racing. I feel like I’m floating. It’s hard to focus. My mind is active. I’m scattered.

I’m excited to do these things, but to actually do them, I have to get through being completely terrified.

A few years ago we went on a family vacation to Cape Cod. I’ve always wanted to learn how to surf. And there it was – instructors in the waves at our beach. I went back and forth. I got nervous, second-guessed myself, made excuses why not to do it. But this time something shifted. The energy of the present moment, for probably the first time ever, overcame the fear. I asked my son if he wanted to do it with me. I’ll never forget as we drove there and pulled into the parking lot, we both were balls of nervous energy. We comforted each other and we did it. It was terrifying, fun, and exciting all at the same time. Afterwards, I was on a high. Adrenaline? Happiness? I didn’t know then but the feeling memory of that day was going to stick with me for years to come. I can still go back to what that felt like. Did the one lesson turn us into surfers? Nope! But, I had done something I always wanted to do. Now I understand the gravity of that.

I have these imprints in my mind. I don’t know where they come from. I’ve always wanted to _________(fill in the blank). Maybe some experience in my childhood before I can remember? Maybe something in a past life? They are undeniable.

Every single one of them brings up that feeling I was talking about. That heart racing, fear of the unknown, but still want to turn the corner feeling. Every time I feel it I see my choice. I can choose to not listen and push it down. Or I can listen and feel the nervousness/excitedness and still do it. I can’t say I always make the second choice, but more and more I do.

Recently, I participated in the 100 Day Project on Instagram and posted a different creative project every day for the world to see (Well, not the world. It sure felt like it though). I joined an online writing group after spending my whole life thinking I was a bad writer (Hey Jena!). I booked a hotel in NYC and traveled there by myself simply because I wanted to feel the energy of the city. And, after wanting for as long as I can remember to learn how to ride a horse, I went to my first lesson just last month.

Even as a write this, I get emotional. There is no denying the feeling I get when I do the things that I’ve always wanted to do. Its like the universe is putting something out there and saying “I’m just gonna put this here Pam. Can you see it? Can you slow down? Are you brave enough to do it?” The universe is playing a game with me. Are you in, Pam? And every time I make a move, I have that energy of fear rising up and me consciously bringing up my life energy to get over that fear and do the thing. The thing that is imprinted on the invisible fabric of my life.

If I don’t do these things, part of me dies. I know this because I spent 20 years of my life not listening. I was depressed, anxious and miserable. It was because I was listening to the fear and allowing it to take over. I was hearing the voices, but I was ignoring them or just putting them off until some day down the road. All it took was doing one crazy thing to feel alive. I could feel all the energy of the universe bubbling up in that moment floating on a surfboard in the Atlantic Ocean with my son. It was all there in that moment. (And yes, in between waves I was scanning the horizon for dorsal fins).

I believe that once you have that feeling memory, you can use it for everything that comes at you down the road. I believe that because I have done that. And it has NEVER failed me.

In his book The War of Art, Steven Pressfield writes “The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.” So, I think of it like a math equation: the more completely freaking terrified I am, the more I absolutely need to do it. There is power in being completely and utterly terrified and pushing though. And then there is freedom in not letting the fear control you. It’s the same feeling I get as I write this and think about posting it for the entire world to see. (World, ten people = same thing.)

Still, all I have to do is close my eyes and think back to what it felt like just a few days ago in a horse barn. The smell of hay, the sounds of hooves hitting the dirt, the soft horse hair. The feeling of trust I feel as Luke carries me along. In that moment I am living the life that was meant for me, simply because I listened. There is nothing else. And anything is possible.

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