Definitions from The Webster Dictionary
A painful emotion or passion excited by the expectation of evil, or the apprehension of impending danger; apprehension; anxiety; solicitude; alarm; dread.
Impressed with fear or apprehension; in fear; apprehensive.
(Interesting that the definitions play off each other.)
Having fear or being afraid is normal. Every day we go through many moments whether we realize it or not where we have to make decisions that we aren’t comfortable with. Most of the time we just do what needs to be done and then we move on. We each find our own zone where we are comfortable. The spider crawling on the floor will annoy one person and make another scream as if someone is trying to kill them. That same screamer might be calm during a trauma resuscitation while the other person freezes up at the thought of blood.
Sometimes we can deal with our fears and even improve on how we respond to things we know we are afraid of.
I’ve had the opportunity to face some fears and I continue to improve on how I respond to them.
For my fear of the open water I took my first swimming class in college. Yeah. That’s right. I learned how to swim in college. I wasn’t as bad off as many of the other students. I had at least played in the pool and wasn’t scared of being in the pool. It wasn’t a bad class and I learned some strokes and how to survive for a short time in the water. I then took it to the next step when I was in Grenada and decided to get my PADI SCUBA certification while I was there. The first time I freaked out was when I had to remove my mask under the water, put it in front me, find it, put it back on and purge the water out. And this was just at the bottom of a pool. That urge to push up and jump out of the pool was incredible. Part of me knew that I wouldn’t die. Doesn’t matter. It was still hard. I did do it though. I also was able to do it in the ocean when I needed to. Haven’t had a problem since although a Jaws showing on tv makes me rethink things.
Fear of heights. Hey. It’s a long way down from up here. So many times trying to go up and down the ladder and so many times needing to take a pause to catch my breath. So… I did two AFF (Accelerated Free Fall) jumps. That’s skydiving. Not tandem where you are attached to your instructor. In AFF, they help to orient you but you are supposed to pull your own parachute. They will if you mess up. The first time I was fine until they opened up the door to the small plane. And yes the plane was still moving when we did this. Turning and standing under the wing wasn’t that bad really. It’s a little nerve-racking trying to stand on the little metal pad before you actually release. Mainly because I was having a hard time getting my foot to stay on the pad. The second time was rough because I knew what was coming up. I still jumped. Once you’re out, it’s a ton of fun. Two thumbs up. This year changing over my swamp cooler was a breeze. No issues on the ladder even with a little wobble.
Horses scared me. As a kid they were big and tall and I was told they could kick me and kill me. Let’s ride! Well. There weren’t that many opportunities then. Today though I took a lesson. They aren’t scary at all. My mare was gentle 99% of the time. Even got through turning, stopping, starting, trotting, going up and going down. Not a bad start. They can still kick you though. I can’t wait for my trail ride now.
Just a few examples but how often do we learn from mistakes/fears?
I try to hold to just one regret. On purpose.
Summer 1997. Greece. I met Anne-Charlotte Anderson (From Persgard, Sweden). I wish I had a picture to show. One of the most beautiful women I have ever met in my life both inside and out. I first met her in a hostel in Athens where a lot of us were having a few drinks of ouzo before setting sail in the morning for Santorini. We talked a little but that was it. The next day I actually ran across her on the ship. Nothing special. I had run across someone else that was telling me how much she was attracted to Indian guys (hint.. that’s me). Too bad she was already seeing someone. Oh well. Then my luck continues to be exceptional. I run across her on the island. We hang out. We go to dinner. Dancing. And a very long walk on a very beautiful night with a very beautiful woman. As my days were wrapping up she did something I never saw coming. She took a job on the island. And then another unexpected act. She asked me to stay with her.
Fear. Decisions. Opportunities.
One door closes and another opens. Or does it? What happens when another door doesn’t open. That was fear talking.
In my life now I try to attack my fears. I try to remind myself that it’s ok to have fear, to be afraid. But if you get locked up and freeze in the moment, you might not see the other door open and you might just miss an opportunity.
In my moment of fear. I chose to be more afraid of what others would think, like my parents, than what I wanted to do. Right or wrong. What would be my decision? In that moment. I let fear be my guide. I left. And that decision continues to haunt me over and over again. That is my regret in life. A moment where the possibilities were open to me. Where I was in a state of bliss that I let slip through my fingers without ever finding out where it could have gone. I was out of college with no real responsibilities. I believe in learning from regrets and moving on. Except for this. I’ve learned from this moment but I choose not to move on. It serves to remind me that fears and opportunities sometime go hand in hand. If I don’t take an opportunity I accept that it was my choice and I take the responsibility for the inaction. No regret. Of note. I did send multiple letters to her address on the island and in Sweden. No replies.
From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
Continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition : the action or condition or an instance of persevering : steadfastness