At 23, I was mugged at knifepoint in New York City’s Grand Central Station. I vowed never to ride the train again. But in 2007, the Writer’s Digest Conference called my name with promises of hearing Jodi Picoult and meeting “real” writers. I was about to face the biggest fear of my adult life. I was determined to get on that train. Surely, after 20 years, I could.
On the days leading up to the trip, my worry grew. The fear became unbearable, until the day before I was to board the train, I stood shaking in my kitchen, tears pouring from my eyes, as I confessed to my father, “Daddy, I’m scared.”
He calmly said, “There’s only one answer… ”
I clung breathless, anxious for the miracle answer that would ease my terror. Dad would know. He’d know just what I needed to do.
I wiped my tears and waited for his wisdom, and then it came.
Did he just say, “Don’t go”? No, I had to have misunderstood. I asked again.
“Don’t go. If you’re scared, stay home. It’s the only solution.”
A bell rang as if the Hunchback were inside my head…
I had been raised to run from fear.
I’d like to believe my dad was simply challenging me to fight for my dreams, but I knew better. This was no test. This was my life. Whenever I was fearful, I’d run. I did it in school, in friendships, and in love.
I was at an impasse in my life. But once the bell tolls, you can’t pretend you don’t hear it.
My father was right about one thing, there was indeed only one answer…
I had to go to NYC.
Nothing could stop me. I hung up the phone and packed my bag.
That day in 2007, I started my journey of facing my fears and stepping outside of my comfort zone. This was to be my first writing conference of many, but not the last time I cried in fear of taking a baby step forward. But the reality is, once you take that first difficult and often excruciating step, there’s no turning back. You will be on the road to a better, more self-aware life.
Instead of being afraid, try to figure out WHY you are afraid. Only with exploration and understanding can you make those advances to alter your way of thinking. A whole new world can open up, but only if you do the work to explore the reasons for your insecurities. Yes, my therapist approves of this message.
Everyone has some sort of a life-changing moment. What was your “ah ha” moment that pushed you to change? Or, are you still waiting for it? If so, what are you waiting for?
Maybe you just need a little push. That’s what I’m here for. Nudge, nudge.