I spend a lot of time exercising these days (yay, me!), or maybe it just seems that way. I go to a personal trainer twice a week, because it was the only way I could get my 51-year-old stubborn mind to convince my overweight body to improve itself. Yesterday I was riding the recumbent bike while another woman walked on the treadmill a few feet away. What struck me most was that she wasn’t holding onto anything as she walked at a fairly brisk speed.
The treadmill doesn’t scare me as much as it did a month ago when I started going to the trainer. The first time I was on it, though, I was a little freaked out by the speed at which I was walking and the fact that it just…kept…going. My legs were getting tired, so I thought I’d rest a bit. Instead of mashing one of the two prominent red buttons labeled STOP, I stepped onto the side—and promptly fell. A nice man on the elliptical turned it off for me while I nursed my injured knee. Since then, I hang on for dear life.
I told the woman when she finished on the treadmill that I was impressed by her ability to walk without holding on. She said, “Oh, I’ve been coming here for two months now, so I’ve gotten used to it. You’ll get used to it too.” In that month’s difference, she’d been able to let go, not just of the handles, but of her fear, too.
I find myself writing a lot lately about fear. I’ve been learning from my therapist to overcome the anxiety that’s plagued me much of my life, and the process has made me realize what a destructive force fear is. I won’t truly progress in exercising if I allow fear to hold me back. The more experience I gain, the more my confidence builds. It’s true in so many areas of life, and particularly in writing. Writing requires a certain amount of confidence in one’s own ability. After all, when we write, we’re spilling our emotions and experiences and life essence out for all to see. We’re making ourselves vulnerable. Vulnerability is uncomfortable enough around friends, much less strangers who don’t know us except through our writing, and are judging whether they should’ve spent the money on our work or not.
Holding on to the handles of the treadmill has its value, but if I hold on for too long, I know I won’t get the full benefit of the exercise. At some point I have to let go, take the risk, and not let fear hold me back from reaching my full potential. Yeah, I’ll probably fall at some point, but it’s better than if I didn’t try at all.
Let me know in the comments how you overcome fear in your own writing experience.