What does it really mean to be “fearless?” If referring to me, many claim I am the definition on it – allowing nothing to pose threats or scare me, in fact, I seem to thrive in the face of uncertainty, as if I almost welcome the challenge.
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that life is consistently about ups and downs, and facing your fears is what molds you into the person you are. #LivingFearless can be jumping off the side of a cliff in the middle of the Puerto Rican Jungle hoping you’ll land safely on the other side, or simply walking into a new yoga class. It’s not the severity of the situation that makes you tougher, it’s how you face it.
A lot of the time I am also referred to as a “calm mom.” Some are completely perplexed as to how I stay relatively under control in out-of-control situations. I attribute a lot of this to growing up on the farm. We didn’t have time or comfort to freak out in emergency situations – if you got injured badly you better remain calm because it was going to be a long ride to the nearest hospital – if you went at all. Case in point – my son recently stuck a piece of candy in his ear and got it stuck. Like the country girl I am, I tried to vacuum it out avoiding the trip to the ER, but alas, he had it in there good. Now that ERs are more prevalent than Starbucks in NYC, I shrugged my shoulders and said, well, it’s off to the hospital!
Luckily after a few hours and a water bath in the ear to melt the hard sugar, we were candy-free in the ear again. Lesson learned.
How has #livingfearless helped me succeed?
I don’t see pitfalls as negative moments in my life, but more as opportunities to grow and change your life path. I honestly believe that things really happen for a reason, so if things are going good and end abruptly, you probably weren’t where you were supposed to be, and bigger and better are to come. You just have to accept that and believe it.
My Milestones of #livingfearless:
- The day I decided I was moving to NYC. I literally quit my job, sold my Hummer (yes, I owned a Hummer), and moved to NYC in less than a month. I had to put my things into storage and live for a couple weeks in Harlem alone in the big city with a rented room off Craig’s List from a Jamaican woman who also owned a restaurant in the Bronx. I remember my friends dropping me off that first day and saying with fear in their eyes, are you going to be okay? I beamed a huge smile and said yes. Of course I had my doubts and fears. I cried alone in my tiny room uptown that night looking at photos of me and my huge house in Pittsburgh, my Hummer and friends. WTF was I doing here? But I knew I had made the right decision, I just had to remember that.
- Becoming a mom and being a single mom in the world’s largest city. Listen, being a mom isn’t easy at all – kudos to us. Being a single mom, slightly harder, being a single mom in NYC – nearly impossible. Luckily for me I have a huge support system, but I look at those who don’t and wonder how they survive the days. If it’s hard for me, they are the real heroes raising children. You have to be fearless to live in NYC itself – everyday you could lose your job and not afford your rent, or get hit by a car, not to mention we relive 9/11 every single day. Toss in PreK applications, commutes to work and school on public transportation and deadlines and I’m always one meltdown away from saying F it and moving to the far tip of Alaska, but – I don’t. We persevere; we face our fears and challenges every single day.
- My first marathon. Okay, it was only a half but I dare you to get out there and run 13.1 miles straight. I was never a big runner, barely trained, but paced with my friends who were runners and not only actually finished, but did so with a pretty descent time. Since then, I’ve been hooked and I’m running my third one this December in Memphis for St. Jude. I was terrified, and didn’t sleep that night and thought WTF did I get myself into? But I went in with the mentality that no matter what I was finishing this race. I didn’t care if I walked the entire thing, I would cross the finish line, so actually running the full 13.1 miles was a bonus I didn’t expect, but realized my own strength. I remember my friend Janna looking over at me around mile 9 and saying, “You look so strong! You’re much stronger than you think you are!” Of course she was just trying to motivate me to keep going, but that really resonated with me. I realized I really AM a lot stronger than I think I am, and I could do it. Many of us are, and don’t realize it, we don’t push ourselves, but when you do, it’s really incredible what you can accomplish and what you’re capable of.
Ok, so maybe my #livingfearless moments are all first world problems, and there are many out there that have worse things to fear than even fear itself. But I know that if I sat down right now and had a chat with them, I would look at them with wonderment on how they have managed to pull it all off, the same way others look at me, and think, wow.
So my advice to you today is just be you. Someone always has it worse, someone always has it better – but someone will always look up to you for strength and encouragement, so just know that you – yes you- are a pillar of hope and determination, no matter now fearless you may think you are not. And I challenge you today – go out and do one thing that is outside your comfort level and enjoy it. If anything, it will make for one hell of a great story.
I was compensated to write this post for the #livingfearless campaign, but all words are my own.