“When you STOP WASTING ENERGY on worry and fear, it’s like removing emotional static from your mind and getting a cable hookup to the rest of the world. Not only is the picture of your life clearer; YOU HAVE MORE VIEWING OPTIONS.” ~ Karen Salmansohn, instant HAPPY
I’ve always been a bit of a worrier by nature but never to an excessive level. Lately, though, my worrying has gone into overdrive. A few years ago, I had a number of health issues that sent me spiraling into an abyss of fear and panic. Although I’m completely fine today, I sometimes still feel a little shell-shocked. My worry and fear hover at a heightened level, and everyday life can feel like a hurdle to overcome. This is partly because I’ve developed irrational fears regarding everything from eating raw sushi to contracting Dengue fever while visiting the Caribbean. I know on an intellectual level that my concerns are inflated, but emotionally, this over-protection mode makes me feel safe. However, I’ve come to realize that all I’m really protecting myself from is having fun and enjoying my life.
I had gotten to the point of not recognizing myself, and I didn’t like it. I started thinking, “Where is the adventuresome girl who enjoys new experiences? Where did she go?” After all, I’m the same girl who, at the age of 20, left a rural upbringing and small town to spend a semester studying abroad in London as well as traveling around England and Europe; and, I did this while living with a family and studying with students I’d never met. I’m also the same girl who ate sashimi tuna in an open-air shack with a rooster strutting around the room while on a family trip to a tropical island in the South Pacific. I fearlessly parasailed on my 35th birthday after sustaining a compound fracture to my right arm complete with plates and screws only a few years earlier. And, I took on an exhaustive renovation project of mass proportions that included saving a 250 year-old house, cottage, and multiple barns that were on the verge of falling down. I’m not a stranger to the concept of courage. So, where did that girl go?
My husband and I had a mini-break planned last week. A few days before we were to leave, inclement weather caused us to re-think our plans. We discussed a Caribbean getaway, but I felt worried about Dengue fever as I always consult the CDC website for potential health issues before traveling. Apparently, this mosquito-born illness can be a problem on some islands at certain times of the year. I really wanted to go, but I struggled with that old, nagging feeling of worry. Finally, after much deliberation, I thought, “I’m SO tired of feeling afraid.” That’s when I decided that the island of Aruba looked too beautiful, and it was a lot warmer there than it was here. So, I took a leap, and said, “Let’s go!” We spent several days on this lovely island, and it was a wonderful break from the stress of work and managing a farm in the middle of winter. The best part, though, was the joy and freedom I felt when I just LET GO.
Here’s the thing: Fear told me I was vulnerable and weak, and I believed it. I bought into that feeling, and the more I bought into it, the more I forgot who I was. But now it was time to remember. While I’m not completely fearless, I’m determined to persevere. When I embraced my true self and stopped wasting energy on worry and fear, I had more enthusiasm for my life. I realized that fear is just an emotional prison we create for ourselves, and the door may be unlocked at anytime. After all, we hold the key.