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.
I am putting this blog on my blog roll today! I love it, and I’m starting to wonder if you and I share one brain! Thanks for this great, inspiring read, JVB!
Thanks, Patricia. You were one of the highlights of the 2010 Writer’s Digest Conference for me. So great connecting with you. It was worth the risk of getting stabbed 🙂 *heehee*
So scary isn’t it, the first time we make the attempt to overcome fear? So exhilarating when we do! : )
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Several years ago I rode my then horse in a show through a cross country course. This was unbelievably scary not only because the jumps don’t fall down but also because this was something I never thought I could do. It really became a metaphor for my life. I did it. And, it was the first step in overcoming my fear of failure. I started my blog two years ago this month. I have wanted to write but was so afraid to put myself out there. Now I’m trying to embrace my fear of not being good enough and just doing. I’d love to write a screenplay. I’m starting to work on it. We’ll just have to see what happens.
So glad I found your site!
So glad you found me too, Jen. Fear is a powerful thing. I wrote a post on giving up fear for Lent. Amazing experience. You can find it here under “Kicking Fear’s Ass”.
As for screenwriting, I’d love to help in any way I can. I saw you tweeting with #scriptchat. Just having found us is a huge step in the right direction. The support of other writers is key. Very glad to have you in our fold.
My constant fear is that of a wasted life. It hasn’t produced an “ah-ha” moment, but it is a continuous motivation to strive for more in my life. I’ve seen too many lives frozen in fear, relegating people to a meager existence because their own dreams frighten them. Fear then turns into a twisted form of comfort and soon enough you’re scared of losing your fear. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that one.
My mom is deathly afraid of drowning, so guess what she did when her kids were born. Did she take us to swimming lessons and guarantee our survival? Nope. She kept us far away from all large bodies of water thus ensuring that when it was us vs. deep water, drowning would win 9 out of 10 times. I never want my life to be paralyzed by fear like that.
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