How to stop fear from running your life

How to stop fear from running your life
Stinging insects? I got this.

Tonight is ChicagoNow’s infamous Blogapalooz-Hour! This is where we are given a topic to write about at exactly 9:00 p.m. and we have to hit “publish” at 10:00 p.m. no matter what, typos, half finished writing and all.

Tonight’s topic: Write about fear, or lack thereof, and the role it has played in any aspect of your life.

Believe it or not, I can be a very fearful person. When I tell people who know me that I was painfully shy as a kid, they often don’t believe me. When I was a kid at my friend’s 5th birthday party, I hid in their playroom until they finally had to call my mom to come get me.

The pattern continued. One time, my mom pulled up in front of our local small grocery chain when I was around 12 or 13 and asked me to go inside to buy some things. She was doing it for my own good, but I was petrified. I came out a tiny bit more confident, but I was not happy at the time.

When I went off to college, I (phew!) roomed with my friend Brenna. I couldn’t even imagine having a dorm roommate that I didn’t know. Honestly, I don’t even know if I could have gone away to college!

As an adult asking for directions (yeah, before Smart Phones)? The running joke is that men don’t like to ask for directions. Nope, I was too afraid. Asking someone who works at a store a question? Still afraid.

I can do a decent job of pretending to not be nervous. I can feel like I’m going to have a heart attack before a job interview, but feel just fine during. Going to meet a new group of people? So anxious, I can’t even describe it. When were were asked to be on WGN Midday News, I was excited, but seriously near death in my nervousness.

Once I start talking to people like my new BFF Chicago’s very own Steve Sanders? I’m fine. What I’ve realized is, it’s all about the build up.

Afterward, these situations aren’t bad. In fact, I often feel great afterward. I got my question answered! I met some great people! The fear of the unknown is what makes me nervous. What if they don’t like me? What if I sound stupid? What if I try something new and I mess it all up?

I know this fear has also made me seem snobby at times. I’m quieter than usual in public and don’t often go out of my way to start conversations with people. Other people, parents or whoever I find myself around, I tend to clam up. Am I stuck up? No, I’m really just afraid. Yes, I’m afraid of you!

I still consider myself to be an extrovert, which I guess is weird. I like to talk (too much) and my jokes (bad or not) just keep coming. In fact, I find it incredibly difficult to not tell a joke in any given situation and then laugh really loudly. I live for stuff like that, which I guess can be confusing when I tell people I’m undercover shy.

My fear is what started this blog. I mean it. 100%.

You see, I’ve told this story many times before, but I went back to grad school for teaching and then couldn’t find a job teaching. I found a job where I would supposedly be teaching, but I got the old bait and switch. (Trust me, that would be a series of posts.)

After that episode and after applying for hundreds of positions, I felt afraid. Afraid that I wasn’t ever going to be good enough to find a job and worse, afraid that I was a bad mom. No, not like in a Mommy Dearest kind of way, but in a way that made me feel like I wasn’t doing it right.

I should be more chatty with all of the other moms (again, fear) and I should have an organized house, great meals and only 10 minutes of TV in a day, after which I would smile with the light glinting off of my teeth, “Come children, let’s bake cookies and then do algebra!”

Feeling like you can’t cut it working inside or outside of the home is sad, and the fear is real.

One day, last March, I was folding socks while the rain pelted our windows (true story) and I was feeling down.

My thoughts, in order. “I’m going to make myself do one new thing every week. No, I’m home all day with the kids, so they’re joining me on this. Forget that, we’re doing one new thing, every day for an entire year. I’ll write about it in a journal. No, I’ll start a blog about it!”

I put down the socks, went to my laptop and Googled “how to start a blog” and the rest is history.

So many of our “new adventures” involve me getting out of my comfort zone. I wanted to do this not only for me, but for the benefit of my kids. I can show them how to live life and to not be afraid. If you’re afraid, do what scares you. I guarantee it will change your life forever.

This post right here, is Adventure #332 and I have no fear of what’s to come.

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