Relating with Fear

As I sit here this morning, enjoying the taste and the smell of my cup of coffee, I can not help but reflect upon my life.

I’ve shared with many, that on February 7th I am taking off overseas for an open ended trip, a trip where I don’t yet know…

How long I will be gone

Where all I am visiting

What hotels/hostels/etc that I will stay in

Some people reading this will think I’m nuts (and that’s okay), others, it may trigger a reminder that there is something they too, want to explore, or have been holding out on pursuing.

And while yes, I have felt fear during preparation…

Leaving my apartment

Selling all my stuff

Packing all my life into one backpack

My relationship to fear is entirely different than it has been in the past.

This morning I’m reminded of when I first graduated college back in 2011. After bartending for a bit longer, I found my first corporate gig at AT&T, in Atlanta, Georgia.

It was everything I thought I wanted and needed. In my mind, the reason I was unhappy at the time was because of the town I lived in, my girlfriend, the fact that everyone around me was to blame for me being frustrated. But I digress.

Now I was able to be FREE.

No sooner than I received word that I had the job, I moved to Atlanta, GA in December 2011.

The first couple weeks in Atlanta were great. There was so much to see, hear, and taste.

The sight of the big city lights from my downtown apartment, the sounds of cars consistently being backed up (I walked everywhere), and the taste of local foods, which were not in shortage of availability.

I felt… refreshed.

I felt… free.

Then something happened.

Things started to change.

My girlfriend and I separated, as distance was not kind to the relationship. I realized that the job I had started did not align with my personal values, and I was challenged to follow my manager, because of it.

But none of that was the problem.

Truth be told, I didn’t think I had what it took to make it on my own far away from everyone I knew.

Even though I’ve lived on my own since I was teenager, I was struck with an overwhelming fear, that led to panic.

I remember waking up in the middle of the night, many times, with my chest tightened, I could hear my heartbeat through my chest, and with that constriction, I was barely able to breath…

Shit, another panic attack.

To me, these panic attacks were absolutely frightening, and very real.

This fear of being so far away from everything and everyone I knew and know.

The part of this story that is, to me, the most profound is that I didn’t realize it was fear, at the time.

I chalked it up to having a breakup, and a new job that I clearly had no desire to stay in. I blamed all the external events in my life, for the panic and misery I was experiencing.

So what did I do?

I quit my job

I moved back to Missouri

And stayed in the small town I grew up in, for three months..

I spent those three months licking my wounds that had came about, because I ventured far far outside of my comfort zone.

Truthfully, if I had the opportunity to live it again, I’m not sure I would do anything differently, because that experience, although it may sound bad, transformed my relationship with fear.

My willingness to question it.

My desire to understand it.

My commitment to appreciate it, and move forward anyway!

And as I picture myself taking off on the 7th of February, I can hear the jet engines starting, the other passengers around me on the plane chatting, the smell the coffee brewing up at the front of the plane (morning flight)…

And the feeling of the unknown territory ahead of me being something I welcome, rather than fear for my life.

I feel a great sense of excitement, appreciation, and a knowing that this is the “right” next step for me, and my life.

And the point of all this… Fear is within us all, and when I was in Atlanta, I ran from fear, rather than looking at it for what it was, and working through it.

While it can be absolutely frightening to make a big leap, most often, it’s worth it.

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