A few weeks ago my husband Scott and I went on a week long cruise to the Caribbean with 18 of our closest friends and family members. Before the cruise, we did a conference call with two of Scott’s cousins to plan our shore excursions and get them booked online. After reading over the many options, it was decided that all three guys wanted to do the canopy tour and zip line adventure in St. Lucia. Immediately a feeling of dread filled my chest. Just the thought of careening wildly, high above the ground, strapped to a thin wire made me want to throw up.
I am afraid of heights!!!
At first, I said NO WAY. I kept thinking of an incident years earlier where Scott and I had gone rock climbing and I was paralyzed with fear when I was faced with having to jump over a small crevasse high up on the rocks. It literally required just a bit bigger than normal step to get across, but I just froze in fear. It was minutes before he could coax me over and I was terrified.
I assured them I’d be much happier laying on the beach with a good book sipping a Coca-Cola and taking dips in the warm, aqua-colored water. I was scared I’d pay for my spot on the zip line tour and then chicken out at the last minute and waste the money. What if I did it and it was terrifying? What if I spent the day in a panic? What if I just couldn’t do it at all? What if I failed?
So, the guys went ahead and booked the tour without me. But my feeling of dismay did not go away once we clicked the “Check Out” button. Instead it was replaced by another feeling of dread.
What if I was missing out on a really great experience because I was too afraid to try it?
Several days went by and I could not shake the feeling that this could be a jumping off point (no pun intended!) to accomplish bigger things by facing my fear and at least giving it a shot. I decided to put on my big girl panties, got online, booked the tour, and clicked “Purchase” before I could change my mind.
Then I put it out of my mind. I refused to let myself dwell on the fear and even on my way up the mountain in the tram I didn’t think about the zip line and how scary it was going to be. At the starting platform I volunteered to go first so I didn’t have time to think about it and just made a leap of faith.
And you know what? IT WAS AMAZING!!!
The guides were exceptional and the harness was very secure. I was attached to two separate zip lines with three different hooks, so I felt very safe. It was so much fun learning about the different flora and fauna of the rain forest, spending the day with my loved ones, and flying high through the trees. What a rush! But more importantly, I learned some really great lessons.
Here are three important reasons to face your fears and try something new this coming year.
1. New experiences keep us feeling young.
When we are young there are all sorts of new experiences thrown at us. Remember your first date, first kiss, first time driving a car with no one in the passenger seat, first roller coaster, first dance, first concert, first job, or your first big trip? That wonderful feeling of freedom, excitement, joy, (and yes, fear!) that made you feel alive! As we get older these new experiences become few and far between and it’s up to us to seek out fresh adventures. This is why I love the idea of a bucket list. It’s a push to keep us trying new things.
2. Gain greater confidence and trust in yourself.
Facing a fear and conquering it gives you the confidence to try other things you may have been scared to try in the past. Demonstrating to yourself that you can look fear in the eye and cope with it encourages you to reevaluate other opportunities in your life where fear may have been holding you back. You can trust that you have the ability to let go of fear and worry and just give things a shot. You never know where it might lead!
3. Live life with less regret.
Don’t let the things you were too afraid to try become regrets later in life. I think this quote from Mark Twain sums it up perfectly.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
What have you been missing out on because you were too afraid to try? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.