“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
Last year I stepped out of my comfort zone and did something I am utterly terrified of.
It was a progressive step in my path to overcoming my fears… a day at a time, a day at a time.
As a blogger and freelance social strategist, I often get some really awesome opportunities to collaborate with some really phenomenal companies and people — discovering new products and services, brainstorming on new ingenious social media marketing strategies, developing exciting, fun content to share with my audience, and much, much more!
However, it’s very rare that I get offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel (all expenses paid) WITH my family.
So, you would assume like any normal person, this was a bounce-off-the-walls exciting moment. One that didn’t require you to think about for longer than a second.
But not for me. In fact, it was the opposite reaction.
Sure, I was beyond thrilled and extremely honoured to have been selected and offered this, but the reason why I had cold feet at first was simply because I have a huge fear of flying.
My fear of flying began when I was a tween. I remembered watching a movie that involved a plane crash that permanently afflicted me. A couple of years later, I recall the time one of my friends lost her parents to the same tragic calamity. I remembered seeing her at school the two weeks after and not knowing what to say to her but the moment she burst into tears when we were sitting together quietly, hugging her tightly for the longest time. I felt her pain that moment.
It was my first time feeling such intense anguish for someone other then myself (or my family).
Oddly enough, I have been on multiple successful plane flights with my family growing up, that is before my fear of flying began.
After that, family vacations involved LONG road trips. My father had a vacation property in Florida and I remember the long drives to and from for summers in a row.
Facing My Fear
When it was time to finally get on a plane for me and my husbands 5 year wedding anniversary to Paris, I thought: Okay, I could do this. It’s Paris! I can’t miss Paris.
The flight to Paris was smooth (aside from some bouts of motion sickness); however, the flight back stemmed by fears right back up. There was stronger turbulence then expected and I asked the flight attendant if it was normal. She nodded and tried to appease my anxiety.
I knew something was not right. I prayed quietly, closed my eyes and tried to nap it off.
Sure enough, a few minutes later, there was an announcement from the pilot that we needed to fly back to London’s Heathrow Airport for an emergency landing due to some issues.
The next 20 minutes flying back to London were the scariest 20 minutes of my life.
All I was thinking about was my daughter (who was three at the time) and how badly I just wanted to see her and be back home. That I needed to survive this because she needed her mom.
When the plane landed, cheers were heard from across the plane, I couldn’t cheer, I was too busy encased in a pile of nerves. I was so heavily affected that as soon as we got to our swanky hotel that Air Canada covered for all passengers, all I did was curl up in a ball on the bed and fall asleep. I remember my husband ordering in-room dining and trying to make me eat. But that’s it.
The next morning was our new scheduled flight — I was tense the entire 7 hour flight.
I couldn’t be more glad to land back on Canadian soil. I was the loudest cheerer this time around. Unfortunately, I left that airport with my fear ignited.
Last year was a monumental year. Travelling on a plane for the first time with my entire family was a very scary yet unforgettable moment. I did it for them. But, I also did it for myself. I took that leap because I love my children but I also did it because I couldn’t continue to live in continuous worry and angst over something that will hinder me and future opportunities and especially, when it involves making more memories with my family. I don’t like to feel limited.
I couldn’t be more proud of what, to me and everyone that knows me well, was a colossal step towards overcoming my biggest fear. Needless to say, it was a remarkable experience, one that my family and I will not forget, and it never would have happened had I not faced by fear.
I may not be booking any flights soon, but I’m slowly but surely working towards it… a day at a time, a day at a time.
What are you afraid of?
Fear is not necessarily a bad thing. It exists for our protection as an early warning signal. But there is a big difference between the healthy fear that tells us to step away from the edge of a cliff and a constant fear that keeps us from living our life.
The things that we are afraid of may be different, but our reactions to fear are usually the same – our palms sweat, our mouths get dry, our stomachs churn — and we would do anything, make any sacrifice, just to make it go away. How many times have you turned away from an opportunity or even a relationship because you were too afraid to go for it?
Here are some of my favourite tips (some of which I have used personally) to help you overcome your fears: