Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Judgment Day

Conquering my fear of racing in front of a crowd....and having to push my bike.

It all started with a book, really.  I recently read The Art of Fear  by Kristen Ulmer. The gist of the whole book is basically that you can't fight or ignore fear. It might work for awhile, but it will still be there, screaming at you from deep inside until you finally face it, examine it and learn from it. Of course, doing this sounds easy, but it involves really taking a deep look at what you're truly afraid of and what measures you go to to avoid or silence those fears.

Again, that might sound easy. Being attacked by a shark. Or by a bear. Or a human. Getting into a life altering accident. Having another head injury. Racing in front of a crowd. Sure, these are all things I fear, but for me, none of those things stops me from anything. I still swim. I still play in the woods. I still run by myself. I still ride a bike. I even raced one in front of a crowd last month.

For other people, that might not be the case so maybe these fears would be things to examine further, but for me, they just aren't the fears holding me back. So, I had to wonder, what fears are holding me back? What really changes my life? What will I go out of my way to avoid so I don't have to feel fear?

I'll admit, I've been thinking about this for a couple of weeks and hadn't come up with anything. Not that I'm saying I wasn't afraid of anything.  Hell, I feel scared for a good chunk of every day. But why? Because we all know I'm not walking around all day worrying about sharks. So what is it?

Well, this morning, it all came in a flash. I was riding my bike on the trainer and needed some distraction so I watched this video.  I swear I made it about two minutes before I started crying. If you don't feel like watching it, I'll just sum it up. She's talking about hesitation, about how it keeps you from doing things, how it holds you back. As soon as she used that word "hesitation" I knew what it is I'm so afraid of. That one thing that will always make me hesitate. That makes me not do or say something I really want to.

I'm terrified of being judged.

It paralyzes me. I sometimes lie awake at night reliving a moment over and over in my head from my day. A moment when I'm sure someone judged me- thought I was stupid or annoying or, God forbid, not perfect. If I don't feel completely ready for a race, I don't sign up for fear of being judged by the result. If I feel judged by someone more than a few times, I'll avoid them completely. When I felt judged on Facebook, I deleted my account. The big kicker though was realizing this-  I worry about nearly everything I say after I say it to the point where I often just say nothing.

This fear of being judged, this hesitation it's caused, it's stolen my voice. I used to write more often. I used to speak to strangers. I used to love to tell stories. Now I mostly just talk to myself. (I don't think I do this out loud. At least not yet.)

Of course, now the hard part comes. How do I change this?  I know it's not an overnight process. It will be long and hard and there will probably be a lot of tears. But then, nothing good in life really comes without a lot of hard work.

Since I'd just finished a video about hesitation, I figured I'd better start right away before I changed my mind about facing this fear head on. So, as soon as I got off the trainer I headed to martial arts and forced myself to talk to someone whose judgment I fear the most. You know what- it wasn't that bad. I'm pretty sure I won't lie awake tonight worrying about anything I said. I might lie there worrying about the many moves I didn't understand in Jiu Jitsu, but hey, one step at time.

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