Last week I sat down and overcame a fear.
I’ll be 36 years old next week. There are still moments when I stare in the mirror and have to psyche myself up to do something that makes me nervous.
When I was a kid I was horribly shy. I would hide from any situation that might make me stand out. I loved to meet new people but I was terrified to talk to them. I was fine with my family and friends. But go to a party where I might not know people? That was really hard. I can think of all the activities I didn’t try (but should have) or things that I quit merely because I was shy.
Eventually, by the time high school arrive, I was just fed up with being shy. And slowly I forced myself to learn how to be more and more outgoing.
When Marko asked me to co-author a book with him my voice said yes by my entire guts shuddered. I suppose a lot of people really want to write books. And I know others who have tried for years to get a book contract. But for me? I’ve had several opportunities in the past few years and always found a way to say no.
I was afraid I’d suck at it.
Specifically– I know how to write something people will enjoy reading in the 500 – 1000 word range. I’m comfortable with blogs and magazine articles. It might take you 5 minutes to read this post– that’s my sweet spot. But the thought of writing something that might be worth someone’s afternoon or weekend? I don’t know how to do that.
Last week I locked myself in a nice hotel room and wrote the manuscript.
The first half of the first day was hilarious. I turned the internet off in order to eliminate distractions. And then I quickly replaced it with lots and lots of finding ways to distract myself. I went down to see if the water was warm in the pool. Then I went to the grocery store. Then I put the outline for the book into MacJournal and set-up a writing schedule to break it all into bite-sized chunks. Then I remembered that there was a bakery that had really delicious things. Then I went down to the front desk to report something was wrong with my room. Then I put everything away in the kitchen. Then I set up a playlist so I wouldn’t be distracted by a bad song. Then I spent 15 minutes cleaning my bluetooth keyboard because they light in the room showed just how dirty it was and that bothered me. That was followed by an hour of cleaning up the files on my desktop and downloads folder because I’d been meaning to do that.
Of course, by then it was only an hour before dinner and after dinner I’d promised myself I’d take a walk on the pier to watch the sunset.
That’s when the red light went off. I wasn’t just busy getting settled. I was trying to avoid the first chapter.
Dangit. Fear crept in and was literally eating time, getting stronger.
Recognizing that little inclination was a big deal. It wasn’t just procrastination. It was fear of writing the book. By naming that– verbally saying it to myself– I was able to push through.
Two days later and two hours ahead of schedule, I finished the manuscript. I barely slept on Wednesday night… just got into a grove, and made it happen.
It was when I saved the manuscript on Google Docs that I felt this upswell of accomplishment. I’d stared at a fear, one I’d held onto for the last four years, and kicked it in the nuts.
What about you? What do you do when fear is debilitating? How do you overcome it?