I faced a few of my darkest fears the other day: Alligators, snakes, and dark, murky water. I’ve always categorized my fears with the unknown. I’ve had millions of nightmares that had to do with falling or being forced to get into water that I was unfamiliar with and had no idea what could be lurking under the surface.
That’s where alligators and snakes come in. I’m an animal lover, and anyone who knows anything about me would tell you so, too. BUT, when it comes to creatures in water that can “surprise” me (unwelcome touching or biting), I just shiver with fear. I told my husband yesterday as we arrived to Cypress Gardens- in Moncks Corner, SC- (known for its swampy preserve harboring alligators and venomous snakes) that I would be much more comfortable in a lion’s presence than that of gators and snakes. With a lion I know what it is capable of, and I can see it coming for me. They’re also beautiful and majestic and incredible animals. There is nothing beautiful about creepy reptiles.
Yet, I found myself getting into a row boat subjecting myself to this crippling fear I’ve been restricted by my whole life. And do you want to know why? Because this is where Noah took Allie in The Notebook, weaving around cypress trees and swans. That’s it. That was my motivation to not only step outside my comfort zone, but to leap into danger (they didn’t even make me sign a waiver or wear a lifejacket). The lady told me not to jab an alligator with my paddle if one came up to the boat. Um… of course I will not entice a 16 foot American Alligator to eat me. She chuckled at my facial expression and pushed us away from the dock telling us to stick to the route outlined with little wooden arrows on the trees.
A half hour and about 83 mini-heart attacks later, we paddled back to the dock and I stepped out of the boat… ALIVE. No gators messed with me, and even though an arrow was missing in one area and we ended up in a “DO NOT ENTER” territory, I was not eaten alive! I want to thank Nicholas Sparks, Noah and Allie for indirectly giving me inspiration to face my fears and ultimately become a new person. The old Ayla held onto fears, avoiding any discomfort at all costs. New Ayla wants to look for anything and everything that has held me back up until now. I won’t be walking down any dark alleys anytime soon, but maybe I’ll go deeper in the ocean next time I’m there… or squash the spider myself instead of dragging hubby into the room. I feel reborn and I’m here to tell you that YOU should face your fears, and this is why:
1. You’ll have a story to tell.
No one wants to hear about how you passed up the boat ride and waited for the others to come back. Or how you went on a trip and just went shopping. DO SOMETHING & share it with others. If you’re a writer like me, your journal will be a lot more entertaining, too.
2. You’ll branch out more often.
All of a sudden you’ll be bored of always taking the easy way out. You’ll crave that kick of adrenaline and maybe you’ll be bungee jumping off bridges, or joining the peace corps. Do what feels right, man.
3. You can’t be a new person by staying the same.
Life is ultimately about change. What types of changes you’ve made through the years, how you handled them, how you changed the change. We are capable of so much more than we allow ourselves to believe. Always evolving, our minds and bodies crave change. Instead of waiting for change to happen to you, make the choice to change in a good way. Become the person you’ve always dreamed of. Try new things, learn new perspectives, jump out of an airplane if you’re afraid of heights. Life is too short to limit yourself to ordinary.
“Courage is never to let your actions be influenced by your fears.” -Arthur Koestler