I Admit It, Fear is Still Scary…

On February 7th, 2022 an email arrived in my inbox from the NY Times titled, “I Admit It, I’m In Love with Fear” – it excited me and freaked me out. The NY Times was writing about FEAR! Ahhh! I wanted to read it and somehow I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Now I’m here writing, 1.5 months later, and I still haven’t read it. Not only did I not read it, but I also avoided writing a blog entry on my Facing Fear blog for exactly the same amount of time. What the fuck happened?

Allow me to explore, and as you are my witness I will have also read that NY Times article by the end of writing this. I believe the trajectory of my thoughts went something like this…

  • Oh shit! I LOVE that the NY Times is writing about fear.
  • I’ve gotta read this!
  • Did I miss the boat on becoming part of a larger conversation?
  • Why am I not writing about fear for the NY Times?
  • Who did write about fear for the NY Times?
  • Am I a failure for not being published in the NY Times?

Yeah, something like that. I had a lot of FEAR come up around not being exactly where I thought I should be and then I froze and avoided tapping into the conversation from exactly where I am. Thing is, I’m still wildly curious about what the article had to say… gimme a metaphorical five minutes while I go check out that article real quick. Thoughts to follow…

Well, what do you know? It was actually a series of articles based on three dozen interviews the NY Times did with Olympians competing in the Beijing Olympics this winter. I read a few of them and watched some of the excerpted interviews – and I HIGHLY recommend checking them out when you get a moment if you haven’t already. It was incredibly interesting to learn how these extreme athletes engage with fear. Freeskier Eileen Gu for example says,

 “Fear” is really an umbrella term for three distinct sensations: excitement, uncertainty, and pressure… Instead of ignoring fear, we build unique relationships with it by developing a profound sense of self-awareness and making deliberate risk assessments.”

Then there’s Millie Knight a Paralympic skier who has lost 95% of her sight – read: she’s skiing at 70 miles per hour with only 5% of her sight! Holy shit. It was incredible to read her story. Funny thing is, last weekend I went skiing for the very first time in my life. And only reading about Millie’s experience today, I was able to more fully appreciate how scary it is that she skis with only 5% of her sight, knowing how terrified I was doing it with most of my sight fully intact! The NY Times article has an interactive visual to show you what it’s like for Millie visually when she’s skiing for reference – and GULP she is VERY VERY BRAVE.

Swipe to check out the video below for footage of me on the slopes for the first time ever.

I’m going to break down my fear experience in relation to this NY Times article using freeskier Eileen Gu’s description of fear in the article…

  • First I got excited reading the article headline in my inbox, “I Admit It, I’m In Love With Fear”.
  • Then I felt uncertain how I’d feel after reading the article and whether or not I was in the place I should be in life.
  • Finally, I felt pressure to be someplace I’m not – creating an invisible external competitor when I was actually probably just visualizing where I want to go in the future.
  • As a result of avoiding reading the article and writing in my blog, then reflecting on it, I’ve developed a greater sense of self-awareness that I can apply to future such situations.
  • Next time, I can do a risk assessment and remember that by the end of this fear cycle I felt inspired and motivated to continue on my journey with facing fear.

In conclusion, it’s cool that I experienced fear, how I reacted to it is completely fine, and now that I’ve moved through the experience I feel more confident in myself. Let’s gooooo!

It’s March 2022 – and officially Spring now – have you pushed through fear recently this year? Pop a comment down below and let me know.

Ecstatic Experience + Exercise

I exercised at the gym today and also took a couple long walks outside and it feels so good. I feel so damn good. I haven’t exercised in a while, I felt stuck in a kind of physical stasis and had some anxiety about exercising. Everyone knows exercise is good for you but it’s easy to forget how good it feels. Embodying that goodness oh man. Tonight my cheeks are flushed, my blood is flowing, my eyes and mind are relaxed. I’m turned on all the way up and lit from within.

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Yes, it’s definitely a goal of my January 2019 to get physically in shape again. I’ve been using this incredible (free) app Pacer to track my daily steps and exercise goals and in the week I’ve been doing it, it’s markedly increased the level of my physical activity. It has a little tracker that tells you how many steps you’ve walked so far. 1-2999 is sedentary. Sedentary! I hate the idea of being sedentary (not to mention all the health risks that go along with it) so that alone has made me intentionally get out and walk at least 3000 steps on a daily basis.

A lot of the work I do is remote from home so it’s easy for me to have a sedentary day if I’m not mindful about it. The levels on the app are sedentary, lightly active, active, and highly active. I’m happy to say today was my first highly active day in the past week and I feel fucking amazing. The screenshot below is my actual day today. Woot.

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While I was leaving the gym I held the door open for a man behind me, and he said you’re from Latin America! And I said I’m half Cuban. And he said I could tell you had sunshine in you. Maybe he was just hitting on me but he was polite and respectful and didn’t ask for my number so I prefer to think he was just appreciating my inner light thank you very much.

On my walk to the train, I passed by a light store. Scores of chandeliers lit up and shining in this warm thin little slice of a store. I walked passed it smiling, then walked back over to it and decided I wanted to walk inside and soak up all the lights. I entered the store and the only two people in there, both of whom worked there, snapped their heads up as soon as they heard the door open. Likely not something that happens too much in chandelier store… although you never know it was by Fifth Ave. I said,

“I just want to walk and look at all the lights!”

The woman who works there (and maybe owns the store) said,

‘oh, yes! The energy. Go soak up the energy!’

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So I did. I wandered through the store in a kind of reverie and soaked up the brilliant lights. My heart was so open and happy and… bright. As I walked back out the store and to the train I felt like I was exploding with some kind of ecstatic bliss, likely due to my (finally) exercising – hormones are real. And I remembered something my acting teacher said to us last weekend during an intensive workshop, ‘On the other side of anxiety is an ecstatic experience’.

The other side of anxiety is ecstatic experience.  Tweet this!

I can definitely say that today, pushing through my anxiety and getting some exercise led to an ecstatic experience. It’s exciting to think that those of us with anxiety are blessed with bundles of energy primed for ecstasy.

Till soon,
Lillian