Life is short. Be present. Be adventurous.
This is my own motto. I used to be pretty rigid about being safe. I had good reason to be. I suffered from anxiety. I still do. But, I’ve learned that one way to combat anxiety is to face my fears. It was getting too difficult to avoid things that made me fearful. Anxiety is one of those things that begins to take over more and more of your life if you don’t address it.
I bought one of those courses from an infomercial on TV. It was Lucinda Bassett’s program for dealing with depression and anxiety. I would never have bought this if I hadn’t been truly desperate. It was expensive, and, I mean, hell, it’s sold on an infomercial. It was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever done for myself. There are a series of tapes that give “lessons” on dealing with anxiety and depression. In addition, each “lesson” includes a component where other sufferers share their experience, strength and hope, a concept that I know works from 12 step programs.
I highly recommend it if you suffer from anxiety-related depression or just plain anxiety. For more info, see the Midwest Center for Stress and Anxiety.
So, what does all this have to do with being adventurous? One of the things I learned in this program was to face my fears. I didn’t just learn the concept, I practiced it. I’ve found that when I practice something, it becomes a way of life for me. This spring, I went to Hawaii with a group called Women’s Quest. I don’t like swimming. To be honest, I’m afraid of it. I don’t like putting my face under water because I get claustrophobic. I’m not afraid of water, but I am uncomfortable with swimming. I chose this retreat because there was ocean swimming included. I was going to face this fear in a supportive environment. I’ve also learned that if I have a REASON to do something that is scary, I’ll do it. What could be more fun that swimming in a Hawaiian ocean?
I did swim in the ocean. I swam with wild dolphins. I dove into the ocean at night and rubbed bellies with a Manta Ray, several….as a matter of fact. These babies have nine foot wing spans. Talk about scary! It was all perfectly safe, and I had safety equipment and supportive women around me. It was really fun, and I found out that the feeling of exhilaration trumps fear. Imagine that.
So, a friend I met on this Hawaiian trip, Jascia (rhymes with Alaska), invited me to do a Tough Mudder. I hate mud. It’s icky, icky, icky. I hate being dirty. So, I said YES! Be adventurous. Well, I had no idea how adventurous this was going to be. It was 12 miles of running in a desert-like environment with an inordinate amount of military style and creatively designed obstacles. One of them was going under a wall in a pool of ice water. Brrrrrr….. Under water…yes. The most adventurous one for me was jumping off a very high platform into a lake. OMG…was that scary? I made a decision at the start of this event that I would make myself do the things I feared the most. So, I got Jascia’s friend Amy (now my friend) to hold my hand and do it with me. I was fine climbing up. But, when I looked down into that water and realized that I had to jump off a perfectly good platform into that water, it scared the crap out of me. Be adventurous. I held my breath and jumped. Wooohoooo…that was fun! The thing about the Tough Mudder was that it was all about teamwork and helping each other. When anybody finished an obstacle, they turned around and helped the next person. It was not about achievement, it was about helping others to achieve.
There are so many things that I fear. I’m going to learn to surf in November. I have never been able to get up on water skis because of my fear of falling. But, I’m going to face standing up on a board that is riding a wave in a very large ocean. Be adventurous. I’m going to do it in a supportive environment. And, I know this. If I don’t want to do it, I can always say no. I give myself that option. The bigger draw is that, if I do it, I will learn something, maybe I will enjoy myself and maybe I will inspire someone else to do it. I know the first time I stand up on that board, I will probably fall off. I will probably be afraid. But, what is fear? I’ve heard it is False Evidence Appearing Real. It is nothing.
Be present. Be adventurous. I dare you.