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The Thing About Fear

Written by Steph Redhead  | 

We were staying in a picturesque island resort with the beach stretching out in front of us and everything looking like we had stepped into a computer screensaver. Perfection.
I was in Fiji with my family having an incredible time celebrating my Dad’s 60th birthday. It was the day before we were about to leave and although I had been swimming every day in the pool, I had only put my toes into that beautiful sea.

You see I have this fear, this completely irrational, completely debilitating fear of……. fish!
It’s not fish in itself - I’m perfectly happy to eat fish and look at fish in fish tanks, but I just cannot bear to swim in the ocean with them. Now, it would be completely acceptable for me not to swim if there was a danger of sharks or some other deadly ocean creature, but in this picturesque, calm and beautiful sea there was absolutely no danger. Just my family having the time of their lives with a whole lot of beautiful fish on coral reefs that people pay a lot of money to go snorkeling to see…. I have a fear of Nemos!!!!

I was missing out because my stupid fear was holding me back.

My Mum stood on the beach with me and in her attempt at a pep talk said, “you know that you are bigger than them.”

“Yes Mum, I know.”

“And you know that they won’t hurt you”

“Yes Mum, I know.”

You see, I’m a grown woman with absolutely no idea or logical reason why this was an issue - in my head I knew ALL those things, but I just couldn’t get my blinkin’ body to get in the water and get amongst it!

Then I looked down at my daughter, who was almost 2yrs old, and my thoughts began to change.

You see the thing about a mama is that we might not do things for ourselves but we will do ANYTHING for our children. I started thinking about how I didn’t want my daughter to let fear stop her from doing anything, how I wanted to be a role-model for her and a mama that she could be proud of, how if I wanted to talk the talk then I needed to walk the walk. So I made a decision.

I got Marty to take Ella with strict instructions to keep her away from me so she didn’t pick up on the freaking out vibes (and didn’t hear her Mama swear!) I grabbed Ella’s tiny inflatable ring to lie on top of, pulled my sunglasses down over my eyes to cover the stream of tears that wouldn’t stop, and started into the water. I got to about knee depth and launched myself into the embarrassingly shallow water because I didn’t want to stand on any crabs or shells that felt like crabs.

My theory was that if I kept moving then the fish wouldn’t come near me, so with hyperventilating breaths, tears streaming down my face, lying on a child’s inflatable and moving EVERY limb of my body, I overcame my fear and swam with the fish!!!!

So why am I sharing this ridiculously embarrassing story with you?

Because fear is real! And it has a scale that stretches from the ridiculous to the completely warranted. But the thing about fear is that its level of power depends on us!

It is only powerful if we allow it and WE get to decide if it controls us.

I made a decision that even though the feelings I had were very real I needed to overcome them because I was missing out on something that deep down I really wanted to be a part of. And I feel like I am not alone in this, I know there are plenty of people out there missing out on things they REALLY want to be a part of because of this thing called FEAR.

We often think that having courage is the absence of fear, but I believe that courage is carrying on despite it! Whether courage looks like what we see in the movies or whether it involves tears, snot, hyperventilating and panicked movement, its the overcoming of fear that is important - not how you look while you are doing it.

Now I know that some of you will completely relate to fear of the illogical and ridiculous, and some of you will have completely valid and warranted reasons for your fear because of your experiences. But the essence of it all is the same - the fear is real but you get to decide if it controls you.

If fear is holding you back maybe its time to grab your inflatable, pull your sunglasses down and go swimming.

Posted by Steph Redhead

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