Look Fear In The Face… And Give It A Slap!
or… Take a giant leap and see where you land…
or… Have a chat and figure out why it’s there…
Do whatever you have to do… but take a step forward, even a baby step, and step past it.
Because if you don’t, the fear grows. And it can grow so big that it becomes a gargantuan monster that’ll require the whole town to band together to destroy it!
When something unexpected happens, your belief in yourself can waiver. This is exactly the moment you must not give up. You must face your fear or it will immobilize you.
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience
in which you really stop to look fear in the face. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
I remember when I got my driver’s license. It was back in the day when you could write your beginner’s and do the road test the same day. Snow was swirling, the road was slippery, visibility was poor, and still, I emerged victorious. I was so proud of myself! So excited to have conquered this rite of passage, especially in such extreme conditions!
In my enthusiasm, I decided to jump right in. I was going on a road trip!
I rented a car, completely oblivious to the fact it was going to cost me a small fortune in mileage alone. I packed up, loaded in my 4 year old son, and decided to whisk my grandmother to visit family she hadn’t seen in years .
I was heading for Toronto. My destination was a mere 18 hours away. Music blaring and the free road in front of me, I was feeling invigorated!
As I left Thunder Bay, my vision was blurred by yet another blizzard. I wasn’t going to let that daunt me, this was Canada, after all. I had been granted a green card by the MTO and a paltry winter storm wasn’t going to intimidate me!
The first few hours were elating and I was riding on a natural high. We were singing songs all happy as can be.
And then it happened.
The car hit an ice patch, spun out of control, and was now facing back toward home. The side of the car slammed full force into the 6 ft snow bank. Wow! That was an eye-opener! But if that wasn’t scary enough, the door latch broke and the back passenger side door flew wide open, spitting my grandmother out on the road!!
Oh my God! She hadn’t been wearing her seatbelt!! Frantic, I tried to regain control of the car. Through the rearview mirror, I could see her splayed immobile. I was convinced she was dead. I was terror-struck!
Frantic, I leapt out as soon as the car slowed; running back to wear she lay on the frozen sheet. Thank God there was no oncoming traffic because, with limited visibility, they never would have seen her.
Thankfully, she was ok. OK!? She needed one of her nitro glycerin pills and her arm was hurt but she was actually seemed to be ok. I needed one of her nitroglycerin tablets, too, as I looked up and saw the rental car rolling away with my son in it! In my panicked state, I had forgotten to put it in park! My son thought it was fun. I did not.
I managed to get the car under control, carefully collected grandma, reported the accident, and cautiously got moving again. I did not want to. I would rather have built a shelter on the side of the road and waited out the storm, but it seemed more sensible to make sure the family matriarch was attended to. She seemed coherent, much more so than I, but then again, she did not object to getting back in the car with me. I am not sure I would have been so gracious.
I was seriously petrified. I deliberately drove under the speed limit even after the storm had cleared. I couldn’t breathe. I was wiped out. I was worried sick that this 72 year old gentlewoman was going to suddenly expire in the back seat. The closest hospital was 3 hours away.
To be honest, I also feared for my own life as we were scheduled to stop at my mom’s house and I knew she was going to kill me for almost killing her mother. Shaken, we all went in and I prepared for my demise. It never came. She knew. And she didn’t rat me out. I watched in amazement as the old bird had a cup of tea and some lunch chatting away the while.
Throughout the visit, my fear escalated. Palpitations presented, my chest was tight, and I could barely breathe.
What was I going to do? I could turn back – it was only 4 hours home. Or I could carry on with 14 painstaking hours before me.
I could not turn back. So we said our good-bye’s and forth we went, together. Persevering.
I somehow managed to follow the road another 4 hours before stopping at a hotel. The day’s developments had taken a terrible toll. Excitement was gone and I felt overwhelmed with the thought of 10 more debilitating hours of highway ahead.
I slept barely a wink. Grandma slept soundly. I kept holding a mirror over her face to make sure she was still breathing. She had refused to go to a hospital, insisting she was fine.
I guess that’s where I got my stubborn streak from. But we both preferred the term “resilient.”
And carry on, I did. We did. As the sun rose, so did we. Every mile drained me. My saving grace was that grandma was amazingly in fine spirits and encouraged me the way. If she could rally, how could I not?!
We drove through the day. We drove on in darkness. And late that night, we arrived. We were welcomed warmly by my aunt and cousins who hadn’t seen grandma in years. We did not mention how close we’d come to never seeing her again.
My confidence was shaken, and I was afraid for a long while. A week later, the drive home was slow and uneventful. Driving with my hands at 10 and 2, making sure seat belts were fastened before ever putting the car in drive, I took the extra steps that helped me reclaim my confidence.
And slowly, over time, by carrying on with courage, I rediscovered my conviction.
That is the key. Walk forward through the fear – even with baby steps.
Life is full of moments that define us. Life incessantly throws opportunities at us to help us grow.
It’s easy to jump in when you’re excited. But when you carry on through fear, you define who you are.
Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air. ~ John Quincy Adams
Whether in business, your personal life, or even in the pursuit of following your dreams, it is likely you will face fears. It’s a natural human condition. It’s part of every person’s evolution. Every challenge is an opportunity to conquer.
So the next time you feel fear holding you back, breathe, look fear in the face, and step forward with courage.
Believe you are brave, and you will be.
Believe you matter. You do.
Please share any stories of facing or struggling with your fear.