Tag Archives: facing fears

Stories that define me: facing fears.

*This is the third in my mini-series on stories of my past that define me. I’ll write these periodically, as the ideas flow. Enjoy.*

I think fear is largely innate…and maybe that’s just my opinion because of the observations I’m about to share. But think about it…I don’t know anyone that was born fearless. I think facing and overcoming fears is a learned trait and one that everyone has to overcome in their lives at least once, or maybe over and over again until they see fear as a propeller towards growth rather than a paralysis mechanism.

Growing up, one of my biggest ‘innate’ fears was being alone and doing things alone (I touched on this in one of my last posts in this series). I firmly believe this innate fear for me is because I never had to do anything alone. I always had my sisters. We experienced every ‘first’ together during childhood and adolescence, for the most part. Moving away from the pack was unnatural for me and well, scary. Enter fear.

For me, fear meant being shy. It also meant sticking with the status quo. And that meant never sticking my neck out there or making decisions that were different from what my sisters did or different from what I was comfortable with. Enter comfort zone. See, fear and comfort zone are so closely tied together for me, it’s ridiculous. (and I realize that this isn’t a unique fear or finding…I am sure this may be more normal for many, but looking back at my patterns is really helping me continue to break out of comfort zones and unseat them more). And once I am stuck in my comfort zone, it’s really REALLY hard to climb out and decide to do something different.

While I’d love to say that my divorce helped me face fears more than anything else, that wasn’t a decision…it was forced upon me to cope with. That first year of separation and living alone and facing all sorts of fears was not by choice, it was not something I ever would have done on my own. And not to diss my own growth or discount what I went through, facing fears during that time was involuntary…but looking back, it really made me realize just how many fears I had and how many were so deeply seated. Living alone. BEING alone. Doing things independently. Taking chances, risks, trying new things. All foreign concepts to me. So while I faced my fears during this time, what I faced more was just how comfortable I’d gotten in my little nook of comfort and how little I was actually growing. I think fear, fear of change, routine and being in a comfort zone were contributing factors to my divorce, unbeknownst to me until…now. I firmly see that more than I ever did before. And it makes me more thankful for where I am today in my life.

I think that the ultimate change for me, in facing my fears head-on rather than pushing them aside for sake of the status quo and comfort zone, was starting my job. And not just any job. But a job halfway across the country. A job that would force me to be more verbal, present myself more confidently, and prove myself. A job that would also allow me to hone the skills I’d cultivated for the past 8 years at my previous job (8 years PLUS…talk about comfort zones!!) and learn new ones. Teach myself more about the areas I consider myself weak in. ASK QUESTIONS. <<-for some reason, I have always been afraid of asking questions for fear of sounding stupid…but ya know what? if I don’t ask the question and try to fake it, that usually backfires more than just asking the damn question. Truth. A lesson I learn all the time, over and over again. 

Taking this job was sort of the seachange moment for me…where things all of a sudden felt just a little bit less scary. Traveling alone. Being alone. Standing up in front of people alone. (notice a theme here…being ALONE!). alonealonealone. This is what has allowed me to face my fears. Doing it by myself. Alone. Sometimes because I have to, but other times because I choose to.

And on days where I feel that shyness creeping back up (today, for example, as I face a few meetings and things I need to do on my own as my boss is on vacation…it’s those fearful moments I had for almost the entire three-month maternity leave she had, where I was forced to ACT and BE and DO…but I did it then, and I can do it now, right?!), and that fear driving me away from what I need to do, instead of towards it, I am going to harness the fear for good and ACT and BE and DO all over again.

Because that’s how I roll now…I face fear. I use it to motivate, not paralyze. It’s an everyday process and an everyday learning cycle for me, but for me, facing fears has been more rewarding than almost anything I can think of to equate it to.

How about you? Are you good at facing fears? Do you instinctively shy away from it? What have you learned from your own patterns when it comes to fear? 

I am a RUNNER, not a RACER.

First, thank you all for your beautiful words of encouragement, support, and in several cases, ‘getting’ why yesterday’s half marathon felt like a failure to me.

What I realize after yesterday’s half marathon is this: I am a RUNNER, not a RACER.

The racing element to running is just simply not for me. I don’t need to run half marathons to prove that I can do it. I can run 13.1 miles to prove that I can run 13.1 miles, without the pomp and circumstance of an actual race.

I did this half marathon because I told myself (and you!) that I would.

So I did.

And I finished.

But this is the last race I will likely ever do.

Because while training for this race eventually became what I wanted it to be…testing myself in increasing my mileage, kicking my running struggles to the curb, learning to breathe and *not* think about it, and finally enjoying running again, it felt more like work, and less like fun.

And I never want to hate running. Because I don’t.

I never want to feel anxiety over a pending ‘deadline’ of a race. I never want to feel nervous about being the last runner into the gate. It’s not me. I am a self-professed slow(er) runner and I will never be in the ranks of 7-8 minute miler and that’s okay. I run for me, I run to spend time with M, and in a way, as the beautiful Melissa put it in her absolutely astoundingly inspiring post (please read it!), I want to impress myself. I am not afraid to admit that.

What I am almost afraid to admit is this: I don’t think I ran this race so much for me as I did it because ‘I said I would’ and because well, my sister ran it too (and killed it! check out her day two recap with pictures!) and we do everything together. But as another bloggy friend pointed out to me separately, (and as Jess actually put it in her post I linked to above), just because she does it, doesn’t mean I have to, too. This may be the very first time we have not done the same thing workout/challenge wise. And while I thought I would hate that, it is easier to swallow than I thought.

Because she thrives in the racing atmosphere. I do not.

I am a RUNNER, not a RACER.

And I am content with that. I look back at the two half marathons, multiple 5Ks and 5-miler races I have done and not one of them has ever been a good race for me, a good experience, one that I ended with a runner’s high. No, they always had some element of anxiety, stress, side cramps or panic that I never really put two and two together on before.  Sure, I could keep trying to ‘fix’ my anxiety when it comes to the race element, but for what? What drives me to run is me, and what drives me to race is well…I don’t know that I have a proper answer to that. It used to be a ‘running group’ I joined with a few local runners/friends when I first started going through divorce, as a way to get me out and about and trying new things. But that group has long since dissipated. I don’t need to race. I need to run. For me.

I may go with the ‘never say never’ mantra because you never know…but for now, for me, I am a runner. Not a racer.

To be continued tomorrow on how I plan to keep challenging myself with my running…I have a bit of a challenge up my sleeve that I am excited to face.