Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fear less

So last Friday, I headed to Chapel Hill to ape it up for a while.  As it turned out, my ape sensei for the day was not the Caveman Ninja, but someone else, equally as cool, but apparently moving to the fricking Swiss Alps, like, yesterday.  And amid all the jumping and rolling and whatnot, I found myself saying, over and over, some version of "I can't do that because I'm too weak and/or scared."  Even though I actually did go through with a lot of the stuff, I feel like I wasted the opportunity to learn as much as I could have because I was too caught up in what I couldn't do (at least, what my head told me I couldn't do).

Then I realised...that's been pretty much the defining factor of the past year (at least) of my life.  Fear.

It's not that I've failed to accomplish anything.  I got back in school, aiming for a dual degree in physics and engineering, and finished the first year with only one B.  I found my own place - a nice little duplex in Durham, less than two miles from both my main workplace and school.  I handled 65-70 hours of work per week over the summer and saved up a small chunk that should come in handy in the future.

But...I also neglected my physical fitness.  A LOT.  I stopped going to PT ostensibly because it was too expensive, but also because it hurt so much, and I was afraid of the pain.  I didn't start back up with training when my body could have handled it, because I was terrified of hurting my shoulder again, and because I was ashamed of being the weakest person there.

That's how it started.  I feel like that physical weakness and fear of pain transferred over into other aspects of my life, and made fear the main motivator.  I studied hard and got good grades because the spectre of failing at school yet again and thereby damning myself to a life in shit jobs constantly hovered over my shoulder.  I blinded myself to the bad and spent all my spare time trying the same bad fixes on relationships that kept not getting fixed because I was terrified of being alone in a big scary world for the rest of my life.  I worked so ridiculously much because I felt absolutely certain that if I didn't, I wouldn't be able to make rent and feed myself and would have to live in my car and probably get hassled by the police or possibly mugged by someone who would creep up and slash my tires at 3am and then just wait, laughing and sitting on my hood while I pissed myself trying to dial 911 but my phone would be dead.  That's how my brain works sometimes.

Some might say that it doesn't matter what your motivation is if you accomplish your goals in the end.  I think that's bullshit.  It's the same kind of effect that a lot of women get from trying the "motivation through shame" sort of transition to a healthier lifestyle: take a picture of yourself in a bikini or underwear and tape it up on the fridge or near your exercise equipment,  using that (presumably disgusting beyond words) image as negative motivation to eat better and exercise more.  The problem with that is the constant, poisonous inner monologue it can create, endlessly repeating how YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH...and you never will be.  You might lose weight and look hot to others, but the voice will remain, and it's a tough sonofabitch to evict once it's in there.  I know this.  There are still times when I have to literally smack myself in the head and say "shut UP!"  Usually this is a silly enough move to help me get over it already, although it might freak onlookers out a bit.

I recently gave some advice to a friend who was considering the shame-picture method.  My alternative was to buy a cute bikini and use that as the motivation.  It's almost the same, but there's one major difference: with the picture, your motivation is something you're running away from.  With the bikini, it's something you're running towards.  And that small shift makes a world of difference.

I don't want to be simply "not living in my car" or "not alone" or "not weak and in pain."  I want to be actively seeking out a life of amazement and adventure - which, I'm now thinking, might actually include living in my car for a while (or at least out of a teardrop trailer...ideas, ideas!).  I want healthy, fulfilling relationships with interesting people...and I also want the security of being able to depend on myself first and foremost.  As for the pain...I can put up with that if it leads to the ability to hold a weight heavier than I am over my head, and vault effortlessly over a wall...and DO A DAMN HANDSTAND ALREADY.

That's right.  There are a lot of scary things in the world, but one thing that I am still absolutely viscerally terrified of is being upside-down.  And that's going to change.  This is going to be the year of fearing less in all areas of my life, and a sudden (literal) 180-degree switch in worldview is only going to aid that process.

Now, who wants to spot me?



  1. Replies
    1. Yes please! I was planning on wodding tonight at 6, but then crazy-ass homework on transverse travelling waves got in the way. Work before play :( but Monday?