“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”
Beep – the horn blasts, then absolute silence as one, two, three steps are taken, another half a step and spring up, the only sound is the spring board squeak as I fly high into the air into a pike position and perform the perfect double somersault off the 3 m high spring board and a solitary splash into the cool blue waters of the pool. Going down deep and straight – keep the body straight is running through my mind to make as little splash as possible to help get good points in this high board diving competition. This was a good 45 years ago – now the idea of going to stand at the edge of a diving board, I quake at the knees.
When do we learn to fear – why can we not live our lives with the fearlessness of our youth. Why do we fear. When did fear start to play a part in my life. One of my goals is to live fearlessly. What is fear – only self doubt.
I found my heart in my mouth just the other day on leaving my hotel in Mumbai to get to the airport in the early hours. The surly night shift operator had arranged for my taxi, and his suggestion that I pay him instead of the driver just alerted my senses, his attitude was suspicious and him talking in hindi to his friends who all turned to stare at me as I left, really made me feel suspicious. I knew the general direction of the airport but had to trust this strange man in his car, that did not resemble any image of a taxi. My mind has been conditioned. Maybe it comes from living in South Africa where our 6th sense seems to naturally kick in. I try and keep my sense of direction as the taxi ducks and dives through the early morning streets of downtown Mumbai. When he takes an unexpected turn, my stomach does the somersault and images of being kidnapped and what to do start racing through my mind. I can almost taste my fear. He turns and says – “taking short cut”. And yes he did – we were at the airport within half an hour.
So how to curb this instinct. When did we become so conditioned – I have no memories of this fear as a child, or as a teenager, or young mother. When did I become so fearful. Quotes abound on the internet that in order to grow we need to get out of our comfort zone. At the same time I have friends who tell me how brave I am for doing what I am doing, as they would be too scared to do it.
Don’t let fear fuel your life. I have to dig deep to conquer my fears and what an amazing liberating feeling it is. But it isn’t just the physical fear we need to conquer – it is that fear of stepping out of convention, of what others could possibly think of you, getting out of our comfort zones. The fear of the unknown – and if it is unknown – why fear it?
I good friend suggested when I embarked on my trip to Costa Rica, “Just say yes to everything – it may get you into trouble, but what an adventure.” And I did, which resulted in my jumping off a waterfall in the middle of a Costa Rican rain forest. Made me feel like that child again off the high diving board.
Conquering fear is a daily challenge and one I am determined to master. To live once again with the fearlessness of a child.