Since I began rock climbing regularly in September 2016, I’ve become astutely aware of my relationship with fear. Of course, hanging off the side of a cliff is sure to bring fear to the forefront of your mind. If it did not, you may need to get yourself checked out. Fear is thus natural and an important part of creating limits and boundaries. As such it should be respected. However, if boundaries are never pushed, how will we grow? So, finding that line of resistance and knowing when to challenge it, is important.
The idea of actively taking this concept beyond rock climbing started on New Year’s Day. Although I’m not normally one for setting New Year’s resolutions, that didn’t stop everyone around me from deciding they wanted to develop goals for the coming year. I consider myself somewhat of a rebel, so, setting rigid rules has always been somewhat difficult for me. Instead, I aimed to set an overarching theme to my 2017 year: face your fears.
Step 1: Figure out what I’m afraid of.
Step 2: Notice when I’m feeling fear.
Step 3: Take conscious action to challenge that fear.
Step 4: Repeat.
I realized a couple of fundamental fears that I have. Ones I am sure I share with many people: not being good enough, not being loved, and of course, public speaking. The last fear seemed like the easiest one to target to start with, so I decided to focus on challenging my fear of entering into the public eye.
I am proud to say that since I’ve set my goal to face my fears I have gotten on stage 8 times (in just 3 months!) I spoke at a public rally, read my poetry at a fundraiser and at the Victoria Poetry Project’s Tongues of Fire open mic night, emceed a 3.5 hour educational event against the Kinder Morgan Pipeline, facilitated a two-day workshop on grassroots organizing, said some words at a concert, and gave two Rotary International presentations.
All this experience came with a lot of anxiousness, for sure. But, as soon as I was aware of what I was feeling, I gained the ability to push through. Reassuring myself that this was my goal, that no matter what happened, I was reaching my goal by simply getting on stage. This focus on learning shifted where I put my attention. Of course, I worked hard to prepare, but once I knew I was starting as a beginner, I didn’t put as much pressure on myself to do it the BEST the very first time. No one expected that of me. In fact, people welcomed my perspective, as a youth, as a woman, and as a new voice.
I’m incredibly proud of myself and I know this is just the beginning. Knowing that the career I want and the role I want to play in bringing about positive change means that I will have to be an inspirational speaker, makes this work all the more valuable. So, this step has brought me closer to reaching my goals in life.
What are you afraid of? Where can you start to challenge some of those fears to push your boundaries and reach your goals?