Fear had take over.
Down below my colleagues were oblivious to my momentary moment of panic as I stood frozen on the ladder for my turn on the trapeze. We had decided to go to trapeze school for an offsite team bonding activity. The idea seemed fun at the time. Get out of our mundane office and perform circus tricks. I was certainly not prepared for the personal discovery I would experience.
Back on the ladder I stood there frozen. I took a deep breath. I reminded myself to focus on the present. One step at a time…step…step…step. I repeated this until I got to the top of the platform. The instructor adjusted my harness and told me to put my toes on the outside edge and lean forward to grab the bar. He was asking me to suspend myself 30 feet over a concrete floor.
It happened again. Fear took over.
“Trust me. I’ve got you.”
I took a deep breath to calm myself down. I can do this I thought. I am wearing a harness. There is a net below me. I just watched four of my other colleagues do it. I am safe. He instructed me to jump. One more deep breath. I squatted down low. Tightened my hands on the bar. Closed my eyes.
My feet left the platform and I soared through the air. And then something unexpected happen. Something I certainly was not prepared for.
Yep. A loud, joyous giggle came out of my mouth. How crazy is that?! Less than 10 seconds after being close to tears I was soaring through the air, giggling and smiling! My entire body went from being overwhelmed with fear to being overwhelmed with joy. After the first “flight”, I proceeded to go up that ladder and swing from the trapeze two more times.
I had learned that if I step out of fear, take the leap, I can experience pure joy.
Before I started my journey – I would never have been the person up on the trapeze. Thrill seeking is definitely not a quality used to describe me. I like to play it safe. I am practical. As shared in a previous article, even ocean waves scare me. Yet as I dig further and deepen awareness of my emotions, I realize fear is one that bubbles up frequently. Fear of the unknown. Fear of losing control. Fear of failure. Fear of judgement. Fear of speaking my truth. Fear of losing my identity. Fear of opening myself up to others. Fear of abandonment. Fear of feeling pain again. The list goes on and on.
But here’s the thing. We ALL experience fear. It’s part of the human condition. Recognizing that fact brings me a lot of comfort. We are all biologically wired to go into fight, flight or freeze mode when struck with fear. Yet we also have the enormous capacity to move past it and experience joy – if we can identify it.
It’s easy to recognize fear in a more obvious setting like jumping off a trapeze. Less obvious situations require more careful investigation.
As I look forward to 2017, my intention is to “step out of fear”. First – I will look for the signs. When am I feeling agitated? (fight!) When I am distracting myself? (flight!) When I am holding back? (freeze!) Then – I will go inward and ask myself if I have the courage to move past it. I do not want fear to hold me back from the life I want to live. I can be my own voice saying “Trust me. I’ve got you.” I have proven my ability to rise strong in tough times. I am safe. I am strong.
And you never know. I just may let out a giggle.
“The dark does not destroy the light. It defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy” into the shadows.” – Brene Brown