I’ve always wanted to follow the philosophy that you should do one thing every day that scares you. There is something empowering about facing your fears and gaining confidence and courage to do the things you were afraid to do at first. They say you should stay mentally and physically active to keep your mind sharp as you get older, and I would propose that doing things outside of your comfort zone gives you the learning experiences that will do just that. I’m not a particularly anxious person, and in my younger years, a little reckless, so trying to distinguish between a healthy fear I should listen to and an unfounded fear I should face down and ignore is a challenge. One test I perform is to ask myself, what’s the worst that could happen?
I am a bit of an introvert so even this blog is a little scary for me. But when I think about what is the worst that could happen, I realize that I should just keep writing. Not everyone is going to appreciate what I say and I may even make some people angry (fear of conflict is another one I have), but it’s a bit therapeutic just to put my thoughts out there in writing. And when people tell me that they read my blog and actually enjoyed it, it puts a smile on my face.
Just moving down to the island was scary. “What’s the worst that could happen?” I asked myself. My imagination went wild. I quit my job, we sold our house, and moved to a water access only island. A hurricane could come and wash our house into the Gulf of Mexico. That would be terrible, but that’s why we have insurance. What if I needed to work and couldn’t find a job because I have an employment gap? As long as I keep busy and continue to self-educate myself, I should be able to explain that gap.
Living on a subtropical island, it’s pretty easy to do things that scare you every day. There are venomous snakes on the island. We don’t see them every day, but I am always on the lookout for them. I’ve never really felt like I was afraid of snakes, but I definitely do not want to get bitten by one and I especially don’t want one of my kids to be bitten by one. Sorry, I know that snakes are part of the ecosystem, but if one of them hisses at my kids, it’s going down. That fear is probably healthy, but I can’t lock myself inside my house. There are sting rays in the water and I am constantly worried that one of my children will get stung by them. I can’t let them lose out on all the beauty and healing that comes from the ocean. I just have to remind them constantly to shuffle their feet as they enter the water.
My biggest fear is having some kind of medical emergency for my kids and not being able to get them to the hospital. I don’t know how to drive the boat and haven’t really been able to learn because I always have the baby with me. They don’t make car seats for boats so I just have to hold her while Tim drives the boat. So every time he leaves for any extended period of time, I feel completely stranded and helpless. I know if there were an emergency, I could call the doctor on the island and I could always charter a boat to get to the mainland and of course if there were a life or death emergency, they would send a helicopter in. I don’t want to have to live 10 minutes from a hospital my whole life, but the one thing I could do that would make me feel a little more independent and in control would be to learn how to drive the boat. I am scared to drive the boat. What if I get lost and get swept out to sea? What if I hit another boat or the dock and I damage the motors? What if it’s really rough and I capsize? Those are all worst case scenarios, but the only way to gain confidence in those things not happening is for me to start driving the boat. So here I am.
This is the first time I drove the boat to the mainland with Tim following me in the big boat. Since then, I have done it one other time by myself from the mainland to the island. I will continue to practice driving the boat as often as I can and maybe even let my kids come with me. So along with avoiding venomous snakes and stingrays, driving the boat will be added to my list of things that scare me. When that stops scaring me, I’ll have to start striking up conversations with strangers and asking for help.