Do Something Everyday That Scares You

At the start of 2015 (February to be precise, the scariest month of every year), I purchased this book/diary. I brought it with me every where, and one day my boss spied it sitting out on my desk.

“So, have you gone skydiving yet?” He asked with a sly grin.

No, I thought… BUT, I have joined three different Meetup groups in Seattle; gone to a movie, and a play, and a festival BY MYSELF; and have tried octopus sushi… all within two months. I’ve also freely complimented my servers and fellow bus riders AND followed-through on 4/5 of my social commitments.

As of this nanosecond, I’ve also committed to posting a blog once a week (yes, I know everything’s been said, but it hasn’t been said by me); planned a trip to Ireland, and accepted an invitation to join a new professional organization.

OK, so this blog post is really about two weeks late… but it’s still published.

Bring me giants!

It has been proven by science that we do not give ourselves enough credit for the things we do. At least Megan-science (aka years of observation). I know some quantifiable-extraordinary people: two rocket scientists, a world-traveler, at least six software geniuses, and a plethora of brilliant artists.

I also know a 70-year-old woman who is determined to go to the gym for 15 minutes twice a week; people with chronic depression who tell the funniest stories; and a man who makes me smile every time I see him by being kind to friends and strangers alike.

They’re all my heroes.

But doubt is a powerful foe, and in spite of their achievements, my knights-in-shining-armor often let slip that they’ve lost their sheen. They fear that they’re not good enough, or not doing enough with their lives, or have missed out on something they should have been doing. They forget that between them they’ve: written a novel; moved across the country to pursue a new and better life; produced their own plays; conquered a heroin addiction; found love again; and rolled out of bed every morning to participate in the daily grind of humanity.

Doing something scary does not mean jumping out of a plane; it means sending a text to someone you haven’t seen in four years, or driving to the other side of town. It means putting a toe (maybe even two!) outside of your comfort zone and embracing the consequences. It’s an exploration of the mysterious continent: yourself.

We, and I most definitely include myself in this summation, should consider that we do not know everything, especially not how our actions affect others or how much we mean to them. And, quite frankly, we may never know … but if we can believe in ourselves, we’ll find the courage to not only skip over the molehills, but to conquer the mountains.

We Have Nothing to Fear… Not Even Fear Itself

Last week I was depressed.

It was a perfectly bitter draught of physical turmoil, nauseating nostalgia, work-worries, and playing the role of psychologist for several of my nearest and dearest.

That is why I missed my deadline on Friday for this blog, which of course made me feel very ‘blegh’ when I woke up, far too early, the following Saturday.

As I blinked myself into consciousness and watched the sunrise through my ineffective window blinds, the mental negative-nellies were there. They reminded me of my ignored obligations and personal disappointments as the sky turned from a rich cobalt to a pale pink. I tried to shake them off, tossing myself to the other side of the mattress and pressing my face against the pillow, but closing my eyes only amplified those thunderous “tsk-tsks”.

It was 4:15 in the morning… I didn’t want to get up, but I couldn’t go back to sleep. So, with a soft growl of frustration, I flung my arm out and snatched up my mp3 player. I shoved the earbuds in place, pressed “play”, and waited…

You can’t run away forever, but there’s nothing wrong with getting a good head start. You want to shut out the night, you want to shut out the sun, you want to shut away the pieces of a broken heart”…

Oh my god, Meatloaf. And Jim Steinman. Saying exactly what I needed to hear.

And as I started to cry and laugh at the same time, I realized that perhaps this day could be saved… but first I needed two more hours of sleep.

Fast forward to seven o’clock. I set out with a new sense of energy; running some errands before I attended my weekly therapy session voice lesson.

With every action taken, the nagging-negative-nellies grew quieter. They never vanished (they rarely do), but soon they were drowned out by other voices cheering me on and reminding me that, yes, life goes on.

Until recently, I took for granted how much courage it takes to live. Every time you make up your mind to move forward in some way, you have to defeat those “twin serpents, Doubt and Pride.” Some battles last longer than others… but every victory is hard-won and worthwhile.

Many a schoolchild knows that when something scares them it’s “Fight or Flight.” However, that there is a third, more insidious option: do nothing. Apathy is attractive, until you realize that not doing anything often makes you feel worse than making the attempt and “failing.” Failure, at least, offers the knowledge of what went wrong; doing nothing leaves you with nothing.

Therefore, I have resolved to not fear Fear. After all, “Fear is the clearest signal we will get that we’re on the precipice of greater success, greater happiness, greater impact.”

I think about the stage fright I still get before every performance. I’ve been singing for 20 years, you would think I’d have gotten over it… but now that I reflect on it, I realize that my “fright” is just my body/mind being revved up for what lies ahead. The butterflies flapping about in my stomach are like wind turbines, filling me with energy. Every time I wonder, “eeeh, can I really do this?”  there comes the immediate, almost angry, declaration of “Hell yes I can!”

Perhaps the reason I get uncomfortable at this time is because it is not my natural state… but should it be? I am more alert, more excited, and raring to do more than usual. Maybe then, it’s time I embrace fear and thank it for kicking me into gear.

I’d rather be in a state of chaos than sunk in depression any day.

Rock On, Readers!