A friend of mine convinced me it would be a good idea to try a polar plunge to welcome in the new year. If you aren’t familiar with what that is, it’s jumping into a frozen lake, just for the sake of saying you’ve jumped into a frozen lake in Minnesota in the middle of winter. Some might tell you it’s for charity, but let’s be honest, you could sit in your perfectly warm house, by the fire, and donate to the charity online.
So this January 1st, 2018, I jumped into a frozen lake.
It wasn’t because I wanted to. It wasn’t a bucket list item for me or something I couldn’t wait to try out. It wasn’t to prove my willpower or strength of mind.
It was simply because I’ve vowed to face my fears this year.
Not the little fears that I face on a daily basis, but the big, take my breath away, making it hard for me to breathe or come up for air, fears.
Why, you ask? Because I know I can’t grow into who I am fully meant to be if I continue to attempt to quiet my fears or set them aside, for yet another day or year.
One such fear is publishing a book that shares some of my innermost struggles and insecurities. With anyone who cares to pick it up and read it. With anyone who may judge me for my words, my actions, my fears.
I’ve always been a person who wants and craves acceptance. I don’t like to rock the boat. In fact, I learned early on in my corporate career that facing conflict was one of my biggest “growth areas”.
As a manager I would stress over conflict or difficult conversations that needed to be had more than anything. I would replay the potential scene in my head over and over, with the fear that I wouldn’t have the courage to say or do what needed to be done.
As I’ve grown in maturity, I’ve been able to let go of some of my need to be accepted. I still want people to like me but realize that I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. I can appreciate that not everyone aligns with my values and interests as well.
The challenge that still remains is being OK with total vulnerability; with no attachment to outcome or response. Researcher and author Brene Brown shares that vulnerability, “is about showing up and being seen. It’s tough to do that when we’re terrified about what people might see or think.”
Brene also so wisely stated that, “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
How do we let go of our worry about what others might see or think of us?
How do we own our story, regardless of the consequences?
How do we embrace our vulnerabilities so that we can explore the darkness and move to the light?
In my humble opinion - it takes courage.
Courage allows us to face our fears, however large or small they are.
Courage allows us to learn and grow.
Courage is listening to our intuition and following our heart, despite our mind telling us otherwise.
Courage is facing our fear head-on and making a conscious decision to no longer require a safety net, to be ready to jump regardless of the outcome.
At a Stanford commencement speech in June of 2005, Steve Jobs shared, “And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Jumping into a frozen lake might seem to some like an act of stupidity. To others it might seem an act of bravery. To me, it was simply embracing my fear and have the courage to not walk away (as I would have likely done in the past) but instead take a deep breath, trust my inner knowing, and take the plunge.
I’m not sure it’s something I’ll ever choose to do again, or recommend others add to their bucket list (did I mention how cold the water was?!), but do think it’s given me the confidence that I can head into 2018 ready to face my fears.
How is fear keeping you from moving forward in your life?
Where in your life can you listen to your heart and trust your inner knowing?
How can courage support you in your goals and dreams for 2018?
Share your thoughts in the comments below! Namaste.