Alone. Scared. Terrified, really. Adrenaline was pumping through my veins, my legs shaking despite the fact that I was sitting down.
My body may have been preparing for fight or flight, but my brain wasn’t having it. “You can’t win,” I told myself over and over. “You can’t do this.”
I wasn’t staring down the barrel of a gun, nor was I looking to square off with someone who wanted to kick my ass. I was simply...traveling. Alone. For the first time.
Everything had been great up to that point. I’d hopped on a plane in Omaha and scrambled my way through a tight layover in Denver. Some light turbulence and a little over two hours later, we had landed in San Francisco. I was elated.
Making my way to the BART, backpack bouncing assuredly against my back, I had a huge smile on my face. What would I do first? I’d booked a hotel down by the touristy Pier 39–maybe I’d see some sea lions. Perhaps I’d grab a bowl of chowder. Maybe I’d get crazy and rent a bicycle!
Then somewhere–and I don’t know where exactly–between getting checked into my room and getting ready to leave for a grand adventure in a new city, my entire body was struck with a feeling so foreign to me, I almost didn’t recognize it: fear.
Born and raised in suburban America, the feeling of fear didn’t strike me often. Growing up I’d ridden my bicycle with friends from dawn until dusk. I’d attended small, private schools where I knew just about everyone. I went to the same super market with my mom where she ran into the same people she knew almost every single time.
Fear was foreign. Fear was unheard of.
Yet here I was, glued to the uncomfortable high backed chair in my hotel room, staring out the window to the busy sidewalk outside. And I. Couldn’t Move.
Heart hammering. Dry mouth. Clammy hands. Shaking legs.
I was totally and completely alone.
And it was in that moment, sitting alone swallowed completely and totally by my own uncertainty, that I made the decision to stand up. “You didn’t travel all this way to sit in a hotel,” I muttered to myself.
“Yeah, but you’re terrible with directions,” my brain countered. “You’re probably going to get lost and then you’ll never make it back home.”
Keep in mind this was in the days before phone navigation.
“So I get lost,” I countered my brain as I picked up my purse. I was suddenly very aware of the weight of it–heavier than I had remembered. “And I ask someone for directions and I find my way back.”
I began moving toward the door. All of my hairs were standing on end. My legs still felt like jelly. I wanted nothing more than to run back to the safety of the high backed chair by the window.
And so, with a deep breath, I did exactly the opposite. I left my hotel room, closing the door firmly behind me. Then squaring my shoulders, I walked down the hallway–with far more confidence than I actually felt.
We’re all fearful when it comes to trying new things. Sometimes we look at the huge mountain in front of us and it’s enough to make us retreat. Maybe we disappear until we feel stronger or maybe we just disappear altogether, never to return to that particular mountain.
I have chosen to instead let fear power me–not drive me. It’s the things I’m most afraid of that I leap headlong into, willing to become completely and totally lost in them–especially when it comes to writing books and growing a business.
WIll you join me?