Do It Anyways.

what would you do if you werent afraidI was the type of teenage girl who went around with my friends in packs. In fact there were so many of us that some of the guys we hung out with dubbed us “the 55.” We talked and laughed loudly and were highly amused by ourselves. We were the kind of girls who had confidence and were not afraid of people who would stare at us as we went by in a blaze of giggles, guffaws and intrigue. Oh how I wished that I still had that confidence today or maybe just a big gang of women that I could go about with constantly.

Although I may appear confident and outgoing, on the inside I am one big ball of shyness and anxiety. I’m still loud and I still laugh but I really don’t like people to notice that. I am apprehensive about talking to people I don’t know well on the phone. I dislike conflict and I’m scared people will say no when I ask for something. I’m afraid of rejection. I am nervous about shopping in high-end stores because the people who work there intimidate me. I’m scared of heights and I’m terrified of birds. I’m worried about looking dumb or physically awkward. I panic about going to places where I won’t know anyone or talking to strangers. And I am horrified of looking foolish.

As part of the last year or so of working on Vaughn 2.0 I’ve been attempting to come to terms with my fears and push through them. What I have learned is not so much how to become less fearful but to not let the fear stop me from doing what I really want or need to do. Some of the fears are physical in nature and in some ways they are the easiest to face. Some are purely in my mind – battling my own inner demons. And some are very real and have real risks associated with them. I tell myself that it is easier to live with the potential pain of failure, looking foolish, or experiencing rejection than the pain of never trying. And sometimes I even believe it.

waterparkOne opportunity to face my fears came at the West Edmonton Mall waterpark. The pink slide you see in the picture is a scary ride on several levels. First it’s one of the tallest slides and as I have said I have a fear of heights. Second to go on the slide you enter into an Austin-Powers-like space capsule that closes around you and you wait for the floor to drop out to start your descent into the tube. Third you go upside down in the waterslide and there was much discussion about what happened if you weren’t going fast enough and got stuck. And the scariest part of all was you had to step on a freaking scale in front of everyone just before you go on the slide so they can calibrate the floor to release correctly.

So I did it and I (obviously) survived. No one pointed and laughed at how much I weighed. Really for the most part the attendants looked bored. I didn’t get stuck and I didn’t die of fright. I even thought about going back to do it a second time, but truthfully it wasn’t the best slide there and I had proved my point.

I’ve described before in an earlier blog how scared I was to walk into Blitz for my first training session. I vividly recall talking myself into leaving the sanctity of the women’s change room and entering the studio. This fear was mostly in my head but it didn’t make it any less real to me or less scary. I survived that first day and those that followed. But I still struggle when asked to do an exercise I feel makes me look stupid, or at least stupider than necessary.

scared braverySome of the risks I took this year were asking for things I really wanted. Another was deciding to tell people in my blogs and on TV that I struggle with depression. Some things succeeded beyond even my wildest imagination. But not everything turned out the way I hoped. What I learned however is that I could live with how things ended up either way. I learned that other people actually are not thinking about you nearly as much as you think they are. I’ve also found that bravery isn’t the absence of fear but the decision to face the fear and do it anyway. There’s even a whole web site called the Brave Girls Club whose motto is “do it anyway.”

This is what I would call a “work in progress.” I guess all self-improvement goals are to some extent. I am a people pleaser with a great imagination and when someone asks, “What’s the worst that can happen?” I can supply an endless list of really bad things. But now I try to also think, “What’s the best that can happen?” and tell myself that “best” is worth it. Because if I hadn’t taken that “risk” to walk into Blitz just over a year ago I would missed out on things that dramatically changed my life for the better and I wouldn’t have been writing this blog right now hoping to inspire you to do the same.

do it anyway

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Comments

  1. Ellen Bruseker says:

    Vaughn, you blow me away!

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