I used to be a pretty good mountain biker. I felt confident peddling through the trees on single track trails laden with roots and rocks in New Hampshire. When I would hesitate, my friend Chris would give me the extra push I needed to tackle the obstacle by egging me on.
That was nearly 20 years ago! When I moved to Colorado and got into participating in triathlons, the road bike took over as my primary bike. In the last couple of years, I've switched back to the trails, but the transition has not been as seamless as I hoped.
I'm not nearly as confident rolling over the roots and rocks that once were no big deal. And the climbing...let's just say that I sometimes think my lungs might explode.
And honestly, it's scary. I know that all it takes is one bad fall to possibly seriously injure myself.
But I keep at it. Cautiously. Slowly rebuilding my confidence. Because it's true that excitement and fear create the same reaction in the body - heart racing, intense breathing, butterflies in the stomach, and/or heightened sensitivity. Physiologically, the two are nearly the same. It's our interpretation that makes them different.
As I stare down the steep downhill with the drop-offs that are bigger than what I think I can handle, I know that I have to ease up on the brakes and let my bike bring me down the mountain.
Sometimes it's too much. I get off the bike and walk over the obstacle. But other times, I glide over, and it gives me a boost knowing that I was afraid, but that I did it anyway.
I find that the older I get, the more fear seems to creep in. I don't feel as invincible as I did in my twenties. Does anyone?
And while you won't catch me jumping out of a plane anytime soon, each day that I do something that I'm afraid of, the stronger I feel. Heck, the more alive I feel.
I've always wholeheartedly believed the statement that "life begins at the edge of your comfort zone." And I recently came across the above quote about everything you want being on the other side of fear. The things that challenge us the most are typically the same events that move us closer to what we want.
When you feel the fear creeping in, pause to consider what might be on the other side of that fear, and if it's something you really want, reframe your perspective to one of excitement and anticipation. Then dive in!
You might surprise yourself. You're more capable than you probably give yourself credit for.