I’m not sure if you’re anything like me, but my tendency is to always do what’s most comfortable, to pick the easiest way, and to do whatever is most familiar. I love predictable routines, habits, and lots and lots of lists (!!). But I also know that when I’m living that easy, predictable, smooth-as-vanilla-ice-cream life, things get boring. I don’t grow. I don’t change for the better. No one wants that!! So, what do I do?
I do things that scare me.
I’m not talking about stupid crazy things, or things that are dangerous (mostly, ha!!). I’m talking about things that stretch me, things that really force me out of my comfort zone. There are things I’m afraid to do, simply because I’m worried about (1) whether or not I can actually do it, and (2) what people will think of me.
For example: A few years ago, I got a pamphlet in the mail for a dance academy in town that offered adult beginner ballet classes. I have always, always wanted to take ballet. But I also had two children, and the idea of stuffing myself into a pair of pink tights and going to a class where I knew absolutely nothing basically terrified me. But, guess what? I did it anyway. I signed up for the class, bought my leotard and pink tights, and showed up on the first day, really really really really NERVOUS.
And… I loved it. I really, really loved it. I loved stretching, and thinking about nothing else but how it felt to stretch. I loved lengthening my arms, pointing my toes, and learning plies and releves. I’m not saying I was very good (haha!). I was NOT. But I discovered a love for a new art form, and gained a deep appreciation for what it takes to be a professional dancer. (Now, when I go to the Joffrey Ballet, I am blown away by the incredible talent onstage, because I know how I struggle to do a simple jete!)
Wedding photography is another thing that terrified me at first (and there are parts that sometimes still do!). Being a photographer is so much more than just taking pictures. I’ve had to learn to put myself out on social media (what will people think?!), display my work and receive criticism (ouch), try and fail and try and fail and they maybe succeed and then fail again and then try again, over and over again. But I keep going, because in the process, I get braver, and I get stronger.
Having kids has scared me. Doing what God asks me to do has scared me. Playing goalie for a women’s ice hockey team has scared me. Traveling to Europe has scared me. Singing in front of people has scared me. Heck, talking to strangers has scared me.
But whenever I bump up against an idea and my immediate reaction is Nope! Never! Not me! … that’s my cue to stop and think. Is this something I really don’t want to do? Or is my initial fear keeping me from something that’s really amazing?
I’ve got a running list now, of all the things that scare me, that I really want to do anyway. Some of them are borderline crazy, and there are a few that are maybe just a bit dangerous. But for a very, very tame start, want to know what’s at the top of the list? You’ll laugh.
Group exercise classes.
EMBARRASSING. How ridiculous is that? I don’t know where that fear came from, and you’d think that taking a ballet class would have cured me of it… but yoga or some wacky step class at the gym is next on my list of fears to conquer! I’ll keep you updated 😉