A month ago, I had never eaten a lollipop, climbed a tree or done a somersault.
These three experiences are reflective of a larger trend that has governed most of my life — one of avoiding trying new things due to a fear they may be unpleasant or lead to injury.
About a month ago, a long-held desire to overcome these fears bubbled to the surface. The end of a relationship served as a catalyst, reminding me I need to take an active role in becoming the person I want to be through facing fears head on rather than waiting.
“Doing things!” is a pretty vague statement my friends and I started using as I did more and more new activities — “things” can encompass almost any item or action — and yet the mantra perfectly describes my month of firsts.
It all started with a lollipop.
In early February, I was hanging out with my roommates in Malibu. They, naturally, were enjoying some lollipops when I blurted out, “I’ve never had a lollipop!” — a statement that shocked them, because who hasn’t tried a lollipop by 21?
Minutes later, I was sucking on my very first lollipop.
About an hour later, when one friend randomly did a somersault, a similar declaration of “I’ve never” was followed by my friends helping me do one. It might have taken an hour, but, sure enough, I was rolling across the ground later that evening.
I was ashamed, in years past, about all the basic things I have never done and how long it takes me to overcome the fears related to them. Now, however, I openly admit to them — and then I do them.
In the following weeks, I finally hiked to the cross in Malibu, climbed my first tree on Alumni Park and went skiing for the first time — all with the help of supportive friends and family members. I faced my lifelong fears of heights and potential injury, as well as my lack of trust in myself to successfully perform these activities, head-on.
No matter how basic the new thing I try is, a feeling of triumph and achievement always accompanies finally doing it.
The constant support and encouragement from friends and family are immensely helpful. No one makes me feel foolish or incapable for what I haven’t done; rather, they remind me that I am taking initiative and showing real progress.
I am finally stepping into who I can be when I face my fears and ask for help from the people I love — and that’s where I find my good news nowadays.
Everyone has different fears and struggles. If you want to face them, actively do it — an idea promoted in Shia Lebouf’s motivational speech: “Just Do It.”
“Don’t let your dreams be dreams,” Lebouf said. “Yesterday, you said tomorrow. So just do it. Make your dreams come true.”
Don’t wait. Life is meant to be lived, not hindered and controlled by fear.
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