My Fear of Rollercoasters - Part 1
I’m afraid of lots of things. Big hairy spiders, being in a plane crash, knife-wielding psychopaths hiding in the wardrobe, waking up one day and finding I’ve failed to live up to my potential, and rollercoasters. I bloody hate rollercoasters. I hate the click click click they make as you get higher and higher. I hate the slight amount of give in the safety harness that makes me think I’m about to be thrown clear. I hate feeling like everyone else is brave and I’m not.
Fear is a funny old beast. Its primal purpose is to keep us alive, and yet so often it gets in the way of really living. I’m going to a theme park this weekend – my boyfriend’s brother and sister-in-law do not hate rollercoasters - and for the past week I have been living in a state of fear. Instead of looking forward to hanging out with my boyfriend’s lovely family, I am scared of experiencing anxiety and vertigo. And, to make matters worse, I’m also scared of how much of a wimp I’m going to prove myself to be, and how bad I’ll feel about myself if I don’t do the really scary rides. I’ve let my fear create a lose-lose situation, in which whatever course of action I take, I suffer.
Since suffering is not the way I want to life my life, I’ve been thinking about the different ways in which we work with the fears – large and small – that we carry with us. Often we find ways to sidestep those fears, make little excuses, saying we’re not ready, or we’re not willing, instead of simply admitting that we are afraid. As a consequence, sometimes our fears become so ingrained that we forget their true nature and start to accept them as part of our make-up. We can end up defining our whole lives by the things we won’t do, instead of the things that we will.
So this weekend I’m doing three brave things in response to fear:
To accompany this blog, I’m posting a short video – my first rough and ready vlog! This is something that has been scaring me for a while, for reasons you’ll see when you watch it ;-)
I’m going to the theme park and I’m going to push myself to get on the rides and find the fun in them, despite my trembling, heart-pounding fear
Thirdly, and most importantly, I’m going to promise myself now that whatever the outcome, I’m going to be kind to myself. If I search the depths of my courage and find that I just can’t do everything, that’s going to be OK. I'm going to enjoy the company and the atmosphere and the no doubt wildly overpriced food either way.
I’ll be back next week, reporting on my rollercoaster progress. In the meantime, what scares the heck out of you? And what do you want to do about it?