I think part of me has always been afraid of my own shadow all my life. I never ventured out, took chances, put myself out on a limb, or attempted anything scary or new for the longest time. Not until my early 30s did I start. What finally moved me was getting in the gym when I had gained way too much weight. I started out in aerobics classes and always wore a huge, baggy t-shirt over my workout clothes! Next, I added in the weight machines (intimidated by free weights back then). The aerobics director at the gym talked me into free weights after a few months on the machines. That was my first step.
She was looking for new instructors and I loved aerobics so much, I asked her about what was involved. Know that I was always very shy and not much for putting myself in front of people! Not so great for an aerobics instructor, huh? Well, I was interested, so I took her prep class for AFAA primary instructor certification. That was the start of a great relationship and my first venture out of my comfort zone!
I learned that I could face the things that I was afraid of and it wouldn’t necessarily kill me! Things moved forward. I became a personal trainer. Later, I joined the community theatre and performed on stage. Yes, me, acting and singing in front of people in a theater! Yikes! I loved it!
Now, to the most frightening part of this story. I have an unequivocal fear of water. I never really learned to swim properly as a child. Circumstances were such that I injured myself shortly after starting swimming lessons as a child. Before I could continue, we moved to New Hampshire and I was not enrolled in any classes. In high school, a friend threw me in the deep end of the pool one day. I panicked, of course, and sunk. He had to dive in after me. That did it. It was enough to put total fear into me of the water. After that, the closest I would come to the water was in a boat with a life vest on at all times.
Then, I met my husband. He gave me the strength to face some of my lesser fears from the beginning of our relationship. He has even gotten me into the water wearing a wetsuit! I go out and paddle on the surface while he dives. Underwater stuff, still not there yet! However, I attempted one of my lifelong dreams, which, ironically, involves my biggest fear – water. Surfing. I’ve always wanted to do it, but don’t deal with being underwater well. I panic still. Yesterday, we went to the beach with his longboard atop our Mini Cooper. The waves were nice, but small enough for me. I got my first lesson and loved it! I rode the waves on my stomach practicing lifting my upper body and balancing on the board, started learning to paddle so I could steer and catch the waves! Yes, I tanked and, yes, I ended up underwater, but bobbed right back up! Love my 7 mm wetsuit! I can’t wait for my next lesson! I DID IT! I think I’m finally well on my way to getting over my fear of water!
I think I will always have a healthy deep respect for and fear it at some level. Just knowing that it won’t paralyze me and that I can work with it, is quite an accomplishment! This is the way I want to face all my doubts and fears from here on. Whether it’s the water or fear of that first race, I WILL tackle it and I WILL survive it!