Flashback to those Girl Scout Camp years. Dad and I spent a father-daughter day at Camp Silverbrook. I was eight, maybe. We went swimming in the lake, which always caused me an internal conflict: I love swimming, but I was afraid of the fish in the lake. Dad and I waded out to the pier separating the shallow end from the deep drop-off, and I watched as Dad swam to and from the pier out to a raft 30 feet out. He egged me to join him, but embarrassed, I was afraid and continued to dip my toes in the water from my seat on the pier. I don’t know what made me do it, but as my dad was across the water, out at the raft, I took the plunge and flutter-kicked my little self all the way out to him. Apparently, I had made up my mind that even though I was scared, I was going to do it.
Much more recently, I decided to take the plunge and drive on the freeway for the first time alone since I got my license. My thoughts were much more collected this time around. I decided to take the plunge because I felt like it was now or never. It was about 6:30 on the Sunday evening before Halloween. Most of the neighborhoods in the area were having trick-or-treat at that very moment. The freeway wasn’t busy. What was stopping me? Fear? I guess you could say that on a basic level, I did it because I wanted to prove to myself that I could overcome my fears. Maybe that’s what made me jump in the lake all those years ago (Mind you, on that very day, when my dad asked me why I jumped in, I didn’t have an answer). I needed to know that I am bigger than the things that frighten me.
I think that’s a very important lesson to learn. Sure, when we’re young children, it’s commonplace to find things such as the dark or clowns as scary. It’s not until we’re older that we can rationalize things, and we realize that at least half of our fears are irrational. Personally, I think realizing that a fear is irrational is comforting. It means, really, that I’m worrying for nothing. In the case of both the lake and the freeway, I just needed to believe in myself. They obviously both turned out fine; I’m here to tell the tale.
I wish I could say that all fears are irrational. Unfortunately, that’s not true. However, some fears, like fear of failure, however rational, can still be overcome by taking the plunge. You are bigger than your fear. A baby bird never learns to fly if he doesn’t open up his wings and take the plunge.