Let’s talk about fear. So, in Copenhagen we have an amusement park called Tivoli – and whilst I was minding my own business, looking at the pretty Christmas decorations last December, I was dared to try a ride called the Golden Tower. It’s sixty three meters tall, you’re slowly lifted in the air, kept in suspense for what feels like an eternity, and before you can say a prayer, you’re drop back to the ground within a few seconds. . . From sixty three meters. After looking at the person that dared me to get on the ride with a blank “don’t even think about it” face. . . I got on the ride. . . scared out of my mind, I got on it and I’m pretty sure that my friend went deaf for a bit – but after the trauma. . . yes trauma, I felt free. Everything in me didn’t feel ready to confront that fear that would expose my vulnerability, but I did it anyways. Fear doesn’t go away by you suppressing it, if anything it grows.
How do you brace yourself before the ride drops and what happens after, will you be okay? I could have put on a poker face, because that’s what we, or what I used to do – mask our pain and suppress our emotions till we go numb or they finally consume us. I could have walked away without my legs shaking, as they actually did – you should have seen me, my hair was looking all types of crazy, I was literally falling apart after that ride, but sometimes you have to come undone in order to be put back together again. I chose to face my fear, and be honest about how I felt in that very moment. Scared. I was authentic to my current experience. That’s how you brace yourself. There are no “how to” guides or quick tips to becoming brave in the areas that you’re fearful of. You basically have to sit in that seat and free fall.
It’s scary. Imagine yourself rapidly and uncontrollably falling through the air in a motion, that once started, can’t be stopped – your heart’s racing, you feel like you’re being turned inside out, you literally can’t hold it together and you’re putting so much energy into masking the terror that you feel, but you can’t, because your fear is already out there and the strength that you’re using to appear strong leaves you weaker and weaker the closer you get to the ground.
That’s what vulnerability feels like. But there is such strength in being vulnerable. I want this to be the greatest take away today. Free falling might appear as a frightening experience and no, you can’t control the outcome of the ride, and the fear of not knowing where you’ll land and who’s going to catch you leaves a lot of us in painful, doubtful, lonely, confusing and consuming silence, right at the edge. Nevertheless, you owe it to yourself to free fall.
Free falling is about being honest about your struggles, your truth. It’s so easy to highlight the good, it sort of comes with this generation. Free falling is a commitment to yourself to push past fear – any fear despite the discomfort. Free falling is knowing that what you need is on the other side of fear. Free falling is about letting go of anything or anyone holding you back – kicking and screaming, you have to confront your fears.
Getting on this ride was one of the smaller ones, but up until recently everything I did was motivated by fear. . . the fear of rejection, fear of not being accepted, fear of loneliness, fear of being wrong, the popular fear of missing out, fear of not finding true love, fear of failure, the fear of success, the fear of being myself, and running away from anything that would challenge me to face these exact fears. Very limiting as you can imagine. A really important side not – there is nothing worse in this world than loosing yourself because of fear. If there is a legitimate fear, this should be it.
Fear restrains and is a strong oppressor that we ironically create within ourselves, that literally prevents us from living a full life with meaning.
Much like the reaction I had when I was free falling from sixty three meters, most fears and our reactions to them are irrational. Remembering this is the tricky part.
How exactly are you supposed to push past your fears? The question is rather why are you scared of what you’re scared of? What is the worst thing that could happen if you exposed and confronted your fears? I’ve worked through, and am still working through a lot of my fears that have manifested themselves in many forms, anxiety being the most crippling of them, but it gets better.
In summary: Breathe. For the most part, what you want is on the other side of fear, the fear of admitting your wrongs, the fear of asking for help, telling a close friend or family member that you’re struggling – be that financially, emotionally or mentally, the fear of making a choice. Fear comes in so many shapes and sizes. I would say, don’t fake your reactions to this roller coaster called life. It gets tough, it’s okay to be scared and unsure, but live anyways – don’t give up on yourself because you’re scared, okay? Acknowledge your fear. Feel the fear but do it anyways. Always speak out your fears with the intention of confronting them, not nurturing them. Don’t be scared to get on that life changing ride where you have to push past what you think you’re scared of. Today I dare you – you might just land somewhere soft free falling.