A couple of weeks ago, I wrote and posted this to my Facebook:
“I’m not typically one for sappy or long posts but recently I’ve been having a lot of heart-to-hearts with my friends about things we’re afraid of…whether it’s our jobs, our relationships, our friends, our living situations, etc. I think it’s only human to be afraid and hesitant of things that are uncertain or that we think could ultimately hurt us…
So to anyone that might be struggling with something, or is afraid, this one is for you:
Living in fear is sort of like jumping into ice cold water on a hot summer day. You’re sweating, you’re uncomfortable, and you feel as if you might just be strangled from all the heat. You can drink as much water as you want and you can dip your toes in, but no matter how hard you try, it just won’t be enough – it won’t cure the problem. The only way to find any sort of relief is to just jump into the water. You hesitate because why wouldn’t you? You know damn well that the initial impact is going to hurt like hell; it’s going to sting like a bitch. So you dance around it for a while. But I promise you: eventually that heat will get to be too much. Life doesn’t just let you dance around things – it doesn’t let you run away. It isn’t forgiving like that. The only way to deal with the heat, that fear, is to immerse yourself in it. If you really want to find relief, your only option will be to jump in. You’ll have to jump all the way in. Yes, that initial impact is going to be anything but pleasant but both your body and your mind will adjust, and you will find the relief literally washing over you.
Sometimes life puts you into situations where you’re sweating, you’re uncomfortable and you feel as if you might just be strangled. But don’t let that stop you. That’s the fear talking. Find out what you’re afraid of and go live there. Immerse yourself. Jump in the water.”
I think what really inspired this post was when I was talking to a boy. I’m not sure he’ll know that he inspired this but maybe he just might. I’ve known him for a couple months now. His smile lights up a room and it always touches his eyes. He makes me laugh and I’ve never seen him say one unkind word.
There was one time where he fully let me into his head and told me about his past. I appreciate when people do that, when they let me all the way in. It helps me understand. I’m not going to share any of what we discussed with you because that’s not my business to tell. All I can say though, is that he’s built his walls up high and neither of us see them coming down anytime soon. I don’t know why he chose to let me in and see into his mind but maybe it’s because his walls and my walls, well they’re the same…maybe that’s why we get along so well.
There was another instance…one of my best friends. I rely on him for a lot. We tell each other everything. I don’t know what I’d do without him. He’s truly been a gift in my life. Similar to the boy I mentioned above, he’s got his walls, too. Both of their situations are different but their walls are up just the same. Again, it’s not my business to tell what was discussed, but something was presented to him and because of his past, hesitation arose and prevented him from moving forward.
After having so many of these conversations with so many people, there came a day when I started to look at myself in the mirror differently…and I mean I really look at myself. For the past year or so, I never felt like there was anything particularly wrong in my life. I thought I was living life to the fullest, with no regrets. But then I realized that there were things that I had buried down and I had forgotten about but still needed to face head-on in order for me to move forward and be the best version of myself. It honestly would’ve been hypocritical of me to simply write about being afraid but neglect to include myself.
I realized I was afraid. And I wasn’t just afraid, I was terrified. There was a situation that I was put in that I had thought I had handled, but then I realized that I never actually did – I had just run away from it. I knew it would’ve caused me pain because I already knew the outcome (even though I didn’t want to admit it). So instead of facing it, I just ran. I shut down, closed myself off from it, and said that was that. It was done.
But the thing was, it wasn’t done. I think maybe because I had suppressed it for so long, and maybe because I had literally erased it from my mind, I thought I could avoid it and that I didn’t need to deal with it anymore. But I think that would’ve left me with regrets and life is much too short to live with regrets. So what did I do about it? Honestly, I did something I never thought I’d ever do. I swore up and down and sideways that I would never do what I did. But then I realized I had also reached a point where the situation was what it was and I couldn’t change it. Why was I letting it hold me back? Why was I afraid of it?
What I did was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done because I had to drop my ego despite the fact that I wasn’t wrong. I had to face something by myself knowing full well it wouldn’t end in my favor. I just needed to cross it off my list once and for all.
The weird thing about fear is that we usually build it up so much in our minds, that we become more afraid of the fear then of the actual situation. My decision was made instantaneously and I didn’t give it a second thought. There was no pre-meditation and there was no thought of what would come after it. I just did what I needed to do and that was that. In the moment, I wasn’t afraid. I just was.
I once had someone tell me that the “millennials think too much” and I honestly don’t disagree with him. We get in our own heads a lot. We don’t go off of what we feel and we talk ourselves out of anything that has any sort of threat to our well-being. That’s understandable – I’m one of the worst offenders.
But at the end of the day, I would so much rather say, “Yes, it hurt but I did all that I could and now I don’t have regrets,” instead of saying, “I was protecting myself from feeling pain but now it’s my biggest regret.”
I know Rome wasn’t built in a day, and others fears are more intense than mine might be, but please don’t close yourself off from one thing because of another thing that happened in your past. Each new person, situation, location, etc. that you come across is exactly that – it’s new. Don’t taint the new with something that happened with the old. You can remember what you’ve gone through because that what’s makes you you, but don’t let it prevent you from becoming who you’re supposed to be.
The past is the past and you don’t live there anymore.
Face what you’ve got to face, shut the door, turn the page, move on.
Live in the present and live for the future.
Jump in the water.