What if you do it scared?
What if you do the things you want to do but don’t do because you are afraid? What if you did them anyway?
What if instead of being controlled by your fear you squared your shoulders, cleared your throat and just stepped right up anyway…right up where people can see…where people can see you scared.
What if you lived your life – the one you really want to live – scared or not.
Last year for my birthday, my daughter surprised me with a paddle board lesson followed by an hour on the water. It was the rainy season and we’d attempted to go twice before but were rained out. Checking the weather report, we finally had our day – overcast but not raining. Just a few minutes from home and we drove right up to the shore of Old Tampa Bay to greet our instructor and get started.
The water was choppy but the lady assured us, “If you can paddle board on water like this, calm waters will be a piece of cake.” A little pit of fear formed in my gut.
She demonstrated the paddling techniques and was careful to explain how to extricate ourselves from the trees along the far bank should we lose control and get stuck in the tangle of submerged roots and low lying branches. I visualized myself in that situation. The little pit grew a little bigger.
Time to practice and go through the steps of climbing aboard. She told me to go first. Pit grows more.
You can’t chicken out I tell myself. Just do it. Follow her directions and do it.
I crouched on the board – just like she told me. I looked level and not down – just like she told me. I stood and felt the rough water beneath the board.
“Breathe!” she called with a grin.
I exhaled and chuckled. I had not even realized what she observed. Fear held my breath.
As I found my balance on the choppy ocean, I grasped for a bit more bravery and mentally admonished, “You can snow ski. You can do this.” (That had been another cause for a little pit of fear to form. But I had snow skied many times and enjoyed it!)
Paddling, just like she told me, I exhaled again and pulled the oar toward the trees. I went further than she expected. Further than I expected. She called out encouragingly, “You’re a natural!”
I paddled. I smiled. I enjoyed the water. The view. The calm feeling within even with choppy waves underneath. The pit was gone.
Several years ago I determined that fear would not rule me. I had enough of avoiding situations that made my knees knock, my upper lip sweat and my voice tremble. I would live my life doing the things I wanted to do. Even if I had to do it scared. Even if the people see me scared.
But here’s the thing. It was not a one time decision that conquered all fear. I still have to determine that fear will not be my master. No. I master it by squaring my shoulders, clearing my throat, stepping right up.
I take a cue from the shepherd king and remind myself of past “victories.” My victories are not the kind of killing bears and subduing lions. They are “wins” of a different sort but each took pluck to go forward rather than turning tail.
Every time you look fear in the face and refuse to be cowed by it, you get a little stronger, a little braver and courage prevails.
What are you waiting for?
Courage is calling your name.
Stand up and paddle. You never know; you may just be a “natural.”
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” ~Ambrose Redmoon