How a Trip to Argentina Taught Me to Overcome Fear
By Jennifer Kennedy on January 29, 2014
The first day of this new year brought with it an unexpected lesson about the power of fear.
The River Called My Name
On a recent trip to Argentina, I took a rafting trip on the Mendoza River. It was my first rafting experience, and I was excited to feel the rush and adventure of riding the rapids.
After gathering all of our equipment — oars, helmet, and water suit — we hopped into the van that transported us to the start of our river adventure. Everyone was excited with anticipation.
My group hopped into the raft and off we went, speeding down the chocolate milk colored river.
The first two rapids were exhilarating as we bounced up and down on the river, the water drenching us from head to toe.
Our raft guide informed us that the fastest rapid was quickly approaching.
“Forward”, she shouted as we paddled forward and geared up for the fun.
A few moments later, would change the way I viewed the start of my year.
Excitement quickly ended as we all looked up just as the raft crashed head into a gigantic rock that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Instantly, our raft flipped over and we were dragged down the river.
My head bobbed up and down as I fought to keep it above water. I tried to remember all of the safety advice that was given before we hopped into the raft. All of it seemed like a vague distant memory.
As I continued to be thrown down the river, a green rescue kayak appeared beside me. I reached out and grabbed on until a huge rapid ripped me off and I went tumbling down the cold, brown currents.
I don’t remember most of what happened in the few minutes I was in the water. I would guess I was in for about 2-3 minutes. But, it felt like an eternity. A few moments later, another kayak appeared beside me. With all of my adrenaline in full throttle, I grabbed on for dear life. Shortly after that, I was being yanked up out of the water and into safety. I landed in the raft, breathing heavily as the air hit my lungs.
Paralyzed by Fear
We were quickly taken to the side of the river where I sat in complete shock, shaking from the coldness. I was happy to be alive, but reliving the terrifying event that just took place.
We still had a third of the river left to finish. And then the question came from one of the guides, “Do you want to jump back on the raft and finish the trip?”
I’m not gonna lie when I say that that was one of the hardest questions to digest. Seriously! Do I continue down a river that just almost swallowed me whole? Or, do I hop on the bus to safety to feel the comfort of ground underneath my feet?
I was scared as hell.
But despite being scared, I consciously made the decision to get back in the raft and finish the last part of the rafting trip. As we traveled down the river, I was visibly uneasy and shaken. When we hit a rapid, I flinched, bracing myself for falling in the water.
It was an uneasy trip, but I made it to the finish.
I won’t say making that decision was easy peasy. But, I will say that being scared and making a decision to do something despite of that feeling is very powerful.
The Ugly Creature
We place as much power into fear as we give it. If we let it, it will latch on and control the decisions we make in our every day lives. It will tell us we’re not good enough. It will laugh and say no one cares about your content. It will remind you that you might not have enough expertise to do a job. It will be that little voice in the back of your head saying your email list is too small and no one wants to buy your product.
We’ve all been paralyzed by fear.
But, how can we fight through fear and accomplish our hopes, dreams, and goals?
Honestly, I’m not some sort of fear expert. But, I do want to share with you three reasons why I got back on the raft and how these may help you not let fear get in the way:
#1 Find Support: One of the main reasons, I got back on the raft was because my boyfriend encouraged me to do so. In addition, the woman who was pulled into the rescue raft at the same time as I was had also decided she would continue the trip. These two encouraged me to continue on.
Perhaps, for you it’s a matter of finding that support system. Will an accountability partner help you? A network of like-minded people sharing the same goals? Or, anyone who you can bounce ideas off? Find that person or group of people you can reach out to and help you move forward. They’ll push you through your fears.
#2 Just the Facts, Ma’am: Before I hopped on the raft the second time, I REALLY wanted to know exactly what I was getting myself into. Mainly, I wanted to know how the rapids were from here on out. I spoke up and collected the information I needed to make a choice. I was told that the rapids were smooth and calm the rest of the way with only a few minor bumps.
What are the facts that you can collect to ease your mind? Can you interview someone who has traveled the same path you have? Have you found out what it takes to build a successful blog? Collect factual information that can open your eyes to what’s real and not emotion.
#3 Slowly But Surely: If you imagined me going gung-ho onto the raft, don’t kid yourself. I was terrified at first before my excitement slowly built up. I had to feel out the situation and let my nerves settle. How can you ease yourself into what you’d like to do? We are always worried about the larger picture or the end goal, which is fine. But, what matters in these moments are being successful at the little things.
Break up your project or your goals into small manageable tasks that are less daunting to do. It’s all about chunking them up! If it’s creating a course, maybe it’s a matter of creating the first lesson and sharing it with a friend or one of your readers. Whatever it is, think of a way you can break it down into smaller projects that help you ease into it.
It’s Your Turn, in the comments let me know:
1 – What’s one thing that you’ve been scared to move forward on in your life?
2 – How do you plan to make the first step to achieve this?
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