This seems as good a time as any to get this blog off the ground and moving.
I just graduated from college and moved thousands of miles away, to Israel, where I don’t speak or read a lick of Hebrew and don’t know anyone but my boyfriend. Not to mention that I have a gluten intolerance and have to navigate my way around this new place and find ways to safely feed myself without being able to read anything. As anyone with a food allergy or intolerance knows, finding food is a constant source of worrywhen away from home.
So I know a little about fear.
On my way here, I read something that changed the way I think about and deal with fear, however.
I normally don’t buy magazines. When I do I usually end up frustrated that I spent four or five dollars on a bunch of ads. I think there is something fundamentally wrong with paying for someone to try and sell me things. Plus, I’m a recent college graduate with no income so wasting money feels like a tragedy. But, when I travel, which is about once or twice a year usually, I indulge and buy a stack of magazines. Flying sucks. Not only am I horrible uncomfortable but I’m stressed, anxious, and can’t focus so my attention span is even shorter than usual. I like to turn my brain off a little and pass the time with something entertaining that requires little brain power or commitment from my attention. So I waste paper and money in one guilty purchase.
I can’t swallow celebrity gossip or women’s magazines with ridiculous tips on losing inches of belly fat in only two weeks or 50 ludicrous ways to please my man. Even in my indulgence, I still go for something that will be somewhat educational and not completely infuriating or mind-numbing. This time it was Newsweek, Time, Whole Living, Yoga, Afar (a travel magazine recommended by a friend), and National Geographic Traveler. I also brought along a slew of National Geographics I collected over the past year because I subscribed (you can’t beat 15 bucks for a year of magazines that actually have substance) with every intention of reading them all. But again, that whole college thing leaves you not only with little money, but little time as well.
In Whole Living, which is a Martha Stewart publication was an article about living fearlessly. I’m a pretty skeptical person by nature, and I think most self help type material is for suckers, so I wasn’t even going to read that article. But I was bored, and figured I should read everything in the magazine since I spent money on it. Much to my surprise, I ended up not only getting something out of one of these magazines, but something really meaningful-something real that has already made my life easier and more fulfilling.
I’ve spent the last couple of years staring a lot of big problems in the face with my only choice being to deal with them or give up on life and hope my parents didn’t mind supporting me when I moved back home, ate nothing but candy and ice cream, got fat, and stayed in bed for the rest of my life. Probably needless to say, I chose to face my problems head on and instead of retreating I faced my fears and I won the battle.
Dealing with fear isn’t a new concept for me. But living fearlessly is. In the article, living fearlessly was explained not as having no fear, but as accepting the feelings of fear we have in any given situation. It sounds obvious doesn’t it? But how many of us actually practice fearlessness in our lives, let alone on a daily basis? I didn’t realize until I read that article, that while I hadn’t been letting my fears hold me back from doing things I wanted to do, I certainly wasn’t living fearlessly. Instead of accepting the feelings, I tried to ignore them. Instead of dealing with them, I stuffed them in a bag and lugged it around with me, making everything that much harder. In a situation where I’m afraid, there is no room for that baggage. I need all the oomph I can muster. This idea applies to other feelings as well, such as anger and sadness.
I’m not saying I don’t have bad days where I get upset, feel sorry for myself, dwell on the past, and can’t seem to do anything right. But now, when I’m afraid, angry, hurt, or any other kind of upset, even if it’s over something small that seems silly, I acknowledge and accept those feelings, allowing myself to have them, deal with them, let them go and live in the moment, rather than holding them tighter and letting them weigh me down.