The Scariest Thing I Will Do Today

By the time you read this, I will have boarded a train and already arrived at my destination. The train leaves well before the sun rises, which is cruel and unusual considering I will have to get up far earlier to make it to the station.

I’m crazy enough to do this now because it dawned on me a few weeks ago: my son won’t be the only child much longer. We need to live it up!

So I decided to have a few adventures with him in the style of Curious George, his favorite literary character, then photograph them and make them into short story books so he can read and remember them later. When he has to share his life with his brother.

So tomorrow we ride the train, because I love my son, adventure and a good story. And my son, well, he also loves trains.

But just because I love adventure doesn’t mean I’m not scared. I am. It seems silly to be afraid of riding a train. But I’ve invented a lot of reasons to be afraid of relatively normal things since I’ve become a mom. The neurosis is epic. It took me weeks to buy the tickets because I kept imagining that the train would run off the rails, and Josh would lose his whole family. What would he do without us? So I didn’t hit the Purchase button until Thursday.

This mom makes it look easy. Thanks a lot, Vintage Mom Lady. [click photo for credit]
My imagination is creative, but it’s especially gifted when I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I call this being a “Doing-Something Virgin”, as in, it’s my first time doing this thing or that. And first times always make me nervous.

It’s not rational fear, not based on research or science. Just lack of experience and a wild imagination. Along with all my other fears, I give in to this Doing-Something Virgin fear more than I want to admit.

You don’t have to tell me the ironic thing about being afraid of things you’ve never done before is that until you do them, they will always be something you’ve never done before. And as long as you decide to be afraid of what you’ve never done, you will probably never do it. 

So if you or I ever want that to change, we have to put our big kid pants on and decide we’re going to do it anyway scared or not. And probably, we’ll be scared.

Part of the problem is how I view myself, as an anxious and scared person who also craves adventure. It’s a conundrum to be sure. But when I see myself as fearful, it’s easier to stay scared. But the fact that I ever step out and overcome fear, which I do, says something about me. And it says something about you when you do it.

So how does we altar this cramped perception of ourselves? I have a couple ideas.

1. When we do something brave, we can’t see it as a fluke. We have to see it as part of the courage that is truly inside of us. Because we were brave once, we must now assume that courage and bravery are something we possess, not just a momentary lapse in judgment. The rule becomes, if I have been brave once, I am brave, and I can be brave again.

2. We must legitimately celebrate the fact that we overcame our fear, if only just this once. And even if it was just something small. Minimizing it and calling it “not a big deal” diminishes the fact that it was certainly a big deal, so much so that we almost called the whole thing off. But in that day, in that moment, we trampled fear. And it should feel good.

So today, I recognize that getting on the train with my son might not require a second thought for someone else. But for me, it’s a victory. A victory over anxiety and my belief about myself that I let fear get the best of me. And I’m going to celebrate this as a win, as evidence that I am brave. And I can use this same courage to do something even bigger next time.

So what scary thing will you do today? Will you ask someone out or set up an online dating profile? Will you ask a friend to come to church with you or introduce yourself to your neighbor? Will you visit that mom’s play group you’ve been meaning to join? Will you file the paperwork for your non-profit or small business?

Celebrate any small victory over fear and recognize you could only do it because of the courage you already possess.  Then welcome the fact you are braver than you think. 

BRFS Cover final{This is the place where fearful people dream big and brave people get braver. Dream along with me and get my free eBook too. Just click here to subscribe and I will send my book right over to you.}

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