Walking Through Fear
…by Prill Boyle
We\’re all afraid.
If we\’re not anxious about getting senile or going broke, we\’re worried
that our children will start using drugs or that we\’ll end up as
one-hit wonders. It doesn\’t matter how accomplished, brilliant and
beautiful we consider ourselves. Fear comes with the territory of being
human. And the better we are at navigating through it, the more
comfortable we feel in our skins and surroundings.
Facing fear also goes hand-in-hand with realizing our dreams. That\’s
why for the past six years, beginning the morning I got the inspiration
to write my first book, I\’ve been trying to do one bold thing a day.
Anything that scares me, that makes my stomach go up and down or causes
my breath to catch in my throat, qualifies. Cold calling a radio
producer, speaking before a large audience, saying no to an unwelcome
invitation—I count them all. I\’ve even given myself credit for trying
gorgonzola cheese. (The smell alone is frightening!)
I\’m venturing to walk through my fears the way Patrick Swayze walks through walls in the movie Ghost—as if they aren\’t there.
Over time, my bold-thing-a-day habit has paid off. It\’s no longer scary
for me to pick up the phone and arrange an interview, and I rarely feel
nervous now when I do big events. I\’m more vibrant, yet more relaxed
than I was in 2000. Lately, though, I\’ve been wondering whether or not
I\’ll be able to pull off the novel I\’ve started. Am I crazy, I ask
myself, to think I can write fiction?
In other words, with new risks come new fears, new insecurities. These
self-doubts are like the rocks the glaciers deposited on my land during
the Ice Age. No matter how many stones I dig up as I till my garden, a
dozen more will surface when next I thrust my shovel in the ground. But
thankfully, there\’s a crucial difference between extracting glacial
sediment and confronting one\’s demons. Wrenching boulders from the
earth requires enormous effort every time one makes the attempt.
Walking through fear gets easier with practice.
Experts say it takes 21 days to change a habit. Three weeks might not
be long enough to reverse an inborn response to flee from what
frightens us. But no matter how many days, months or years it requires,
the journey is a noble one. As popular psychologist David Viscott says,
“If you have no anxiety, the risk you face is probably not worthy of