“Fear doesn’t go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day.” ~ Steven Pressfield
I don’t know that I’m a Warrior…or an Artist, but I agree with them; fear is a pain in the arse that needs to be dealt with on a regular basis.
Fear is that paralysing feeling that stops us from doing things and then makes us feel rubbish for being a wimp. It’s not an altogether bad thing really (apart from the feeling rubbish part). When we’re little we have no fear. But the people that raise us put the fear of everything into us and it keeps us safe and makes sure we don’t do silly things that get us hurt or killed. Unfortunately, when we get older we’re told we have to be bold and fearless, go out into the world and take risks.
Erm….can someone tell me at what point the rules change? One minute we’re being told to stay put and keep our heads down and then the next we have to go and take on the world! Yeah right!
Most of us manage to make a pretty reasonable transition from scaredy cat to bold adventurer (or at least confident day tripper). We don’t lose the fear though… How could we? It’s part of us and it’s what kept us from getting eaten by the Boogey Man.
I used to be really scared of driving. I’m not sure why. I’d never been in a car accident or experienced an event in a car where I thought I was in danger. I just get REALLY car sick.
Learning to drive was an altogether unpleasant experience; racing heart, itchy skin, sweating….really lots of sweating and crying. My internal dialogue would go something like this – “Oh look it rained last night…hmmm that’ll make the road slippery…I’m going to lose control of the car, crash and oh my god I’m going to DIEEEEEE!” – 0 to Death in 10 seconds.
But, I did it because the thought of being stuck in a Brazilian backwater with no means of escape was greater than the fear of death itself.
It took ages to get to the stage where I was comfortable in the driving seat. I would get anxious thinking about driving the following day. I’d have weird driving dreams the night before. I’d have to give myself at least 20 minutes in the car before I set off so I could faff around with the mirrors and seat and convince myself I wasn’t going to die in a hideous road accident. But, I did it because there was somewhere I wanted to go and something I wanted to do that was a stronger motivation than the Fear. Eventually even the sweatiness subsided.
I was doing pretty well. I was driving round with confidence; ‘Hey world I’m a driver , I can drive – look at me; driving’.
I thought that was it, I’d cracked it.
Last year, because of flooding, the horse I ride had to be moved to another yard for a while. If I wanted to ride it meant a trip up the motorway. It all came flooding back; the tachycardia, itchiness, the profuse sweating (what is it with the sweating????) and a new one – holding of the breath. I think I have a possible career in free diving.
But again, it was the motivation to do something that made me get on that motorway…there ain’t nothing getting between me and my horse. I zipped up and down the motorway for about a month and by the end I didn’t even bat an eyelid at the Semi’s trying to crush me to scrap metal. Again, I’d nailed that fear.
Hmmmmmmm, hold that thought.
A few weeks ago, with the threat of flooding looming, the horses were moved again. The same trip up the motorway and again that horsey magic did the trick, but damn you sweat glands!!!!!
So now I’m just really scared of driving sometimes – not aways. I acknowledge that I will always have this driving Fear. There will always be some driving situation that stirs up that panic again and has me reaching for the antiperspirant, no matter how many years I drive.
It is bloody annoying but I also recognise that I can make this fear is my ally. If I can turn down it’s volume it keeps me safe and makes me a very careful driver. As long as I can still find the necessary motivation when I need to overcome it (I think it’s obvious this would need to involve a horse) I’ll be able to carry on driving and accept what comes with it – sweatiness included.