Sunday, November 7, 2010

Knockin' Down Fears, One at a Time...

For those of you that don't know me, and maybe for those of you that do, I'm one of the biggest fraidy-cats out there. As a child I didn't like to be left alone, I would have panic attacks before family functions (obviously didn't want to be with people either), and the slight thought of doing something new would send me into a tizzy.

As I grew up, this didn't change a whole lot, but I just got better at hiding it. My mom would usually take me shopping with her on Saturdays - we would go to the mall, and it was just a terrible thing. It's not just that I didn't like shopping - which I'm still not too fond of - but it was all those damn people. What if one of them had a gun? What if one tries to kidnap me? What if we get in a car accident on our way home from that god-awful place? Once we got home, I was so overwhelmed with the worries of the day that I usually had to take a nap. I would feel physically exhausted from the experience. As I got older and began to drive, I found that the mall was a much better place to be than, for instance. I found myself going to said "god awful place" as an alternative to the hell of high school.

Another example of this anxious madness was move theatres. The thought of a dark theatre full of strangers almost made me sick. When I'd find out that I'd be going to the movies, I would worry about it and have bad dreams up until the day when I finally had to go. It usually wasn't so bad, but it didn't stop me from freaking out the next time I had to go. Then in high school, I started going out with boys, and had to pretend that it was fun. It was in high school that I met my now husband, and he worked in a move theatre of all places! I soon found myself looking forward to going to that once frightening place and actually having a good time.

Probably the thing in this world that I was most frightened to do, and never thought I would ever do it is air travel. From a very young age, the idea of airplanes scared the shit out of me. In high school I had a chance to go to London with my cousin's class on a really rad field trip, and I had to turn it down. I wanted to go to London, but I would cry and cry at the thought of riding on an airplane. When I was 18, my folks took the family to D.C. for one of the biggest vacations of our lives...guess who didn't go? Yep, they went without me. I just couldn't get myself to do it. It was even a joint-trip with my best friend's family, and I still couldn't go! This fear was finally conquered in 2004 when my boyfriend - now husband - went to the Oakland A's Spring Training in Tempe, Arizona. The flight was only an hour long, and I had enough Xanax and cocktails to dope a horse. It was scary, sure, but my husband held my hand and distracted me with silly videos and games on his computer. The coolest part was when we discovered that Alyssa Milano was sitting in front of us. I shit you not, she was going to Spring Training just like us! We talked to her for a while and she was the coolest chick. On that trip, I also got to see Barry Zito - not bad for a fear-conquering journy, eh?

I bonus-conquered that fear when in 2006 I went to Argentina and Chile with my immediate and extended family. Xanax helped, as did being surrounded by my understanding loved ones. Since then, I started working for a new company that required business travel 5-10 times per year. I didn't want to come off as a total pussy so I told them I was cool with that. Turns out I had to be, and now I travel by air quite a bit. I don't even need meds now! How about that? I still don't love airplanes, but it's much easier to deal with.

The most recent fear I conquered was public speaking. My aunt's long-time partner passed away, and her funeral was on Friday. The minister called someone up who had told her that they wanted to speak, and after he spoke, she asked if anyone else had anything to say. I thought about talking, but then decided against it as I could barely hear myself think through my heart beating in my eardrums. Then a lady got up and spoke some lovely words, and I thought, "Okay, once she's done, I'm going up..." Then the lady's husband immediately got up and started speaking, I thought, "Oh damn...I'm losing my nerve!" As soon as he sat down, I found myself walking up to the podium. It was like an out of body experience, and before I new it, I was talking. I can't remember exactly what I said, where I was looking, or what I was doing with my hands, but then I was back in my seat. I'm still in shock over the whole thing, but I'm pretty damn proud of myself.

I find that I may be a fraidy-cat, but I don't let it stop me from enjoying life and living without regrets. I just put on my game-face, and pretend that what I'm doing is normal and fine with me, then before I know it, I've conquered a fear. I used to be too scared to talk to people in stores, and just last year I haggled like $4,000 off of our new car like a freakin' pro. Everytime I do something like this, I can only explain it as an "out of body experience." It's like my loser-self gives up to a strong persona, and I just go along for the ride.

Do you have any fears that you've conquered recently or in the past? How did you feel when you made the leap to face the fear? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. I love this post. And I love how far you've come in knocking down your fears.

    I'm having a hard time coming up with fears that aren't normal, wimpy, everyday ones. Ones like murdering bugs and jumping off of rocks into water. Pedestrian shiz like that -- and honestly, I haven't quite "conquered" those fears as much as I've managed to ignore them. Especially the rock-jumping. I mean, I'm not called to jump off of rocks very often in my day-to-day life. And bugs? I mean, most of them are little, so I can catch them. For big ones I either get Chad to do it or, should Chad be unavailable, I simply pretend they are not there.

    But I did have a similar speaking experience to yours. I've never been a fan of public speaking myself, but when my grandma died in 2001, a couple of people got up to speak at the funeral. Nobody else came up for a long moment so before I knew what I was doing I leapt up and strode to the front and just said... something. I'm not sure what it was anymore, but a lady did come up afterwards and say that it was really touching. So I am just glad I didn't say anything really dumb or embarrassing.

    I think in situations like those the adrenaline just comes over you and it makes it so much easier to deal because you are just in autopilot mode, you know?

  2. Thanks Lyn! Don't even get me started on the normal, wimpy everyday fears...I would need a whole separate blog for those bad-boys =)

  3. are you still afraid of birds and balloons?

  4. Honestly, yes. But I'm getting better at it, really I am!