Written by Step Above Stigma's Vice President of Marketing, Sarah McCleary.
Fear is natural. Be it of heights or spiders. The dark, getting a stain on your new white shirt or just of change in general. Fear is something that we all experience from time to time. Yet, this dreaded F-word isn’t always so bad. Most people have probably heard to “do one thing a day that scares you.” The question that arises with such a statement, however, is “but why?”. It seems a bit odd to do something that provokes fear in oneself, but as beautifully worded by Eleanor Roosevelt, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face… You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
By no means am I implying by this blog post that if you fear sky diving to jump out of a plane tomorrow to overcome this fear (I could never, ever skydive). Rather, I am referring to the simpler things. In fact, the small fears that people face on a daily basis are what inspired me to write this. The other day I went to Starbucks with a friend. When I received my order, they accidentally made me a hot coffee instead of the iced one I ordered. Usually, I would probably suck it up because I wouldn’t want to bother them to make it again, but being the 30˚C it was outside, that option just wasn’t going to fly. So, I went up to the counter to politely explain the situation and they made me another one. While waiting the second time for my drink to be prepared, my friend leaned over and told me that he was too nervous to do something like that. What he said got me thinking about how there was a time when I was younger that I would make my mom order for me at a restaurant or a take-out place because I was too scared to order myself and how as I got older I would sometimes have to ask questions or order for my friends. These are the simple fears I am talking about overcoming. Asking for your drink to be remade is surmountable, and something that everyone should overcome sooner as opposed to later. Same with fearing a small change, going into the basement alone, having an interview, etc.
Therefore, I will return the “but why?” question referred to in the first paragraph. In order to overcome your fears, you must be exposed to them. It is impossible to truly conquer a fear if you never do the thing that scares you. Think back to being a child. It is safe to say that most of you were nervous about riding your bike without training wheels at first. But once you did it the first, second, third, and so on time, the fear slowly vanished. It can take time for a fear to go away, but the fear will always remain if you continue to shy away from the thing causing it. Whether you’d like to admit it or not, the fear is holding you back in some manner. Perhaps it interferes with your social or school life. Maybe it is as simple as it takes longer for you to do something because you have to wait for someone else to grab what you wanted from the creepy, old shed. After all, what is the worst that could happen? I mean, what TRULY is the worst that could happen? The server you ask to remake your order is a bit rude and irritated? The spider you mustard up the courage to kill got away? You fall and scrape your knee while trying rollerblading? The worst-case scenario is often not as bad as you initially dream up in your head. Sure, don’t try a black diamond ski hill right off the bat if ski hills larger than the bunny hill make you anxious. However, take a minute to sit back and really think of what the absolutely worst, most terrible case may be.
Facing my fears is something that I have and continue to struggle with. I recognize that I need to defeat my smaller, simpler fears more often, such as calling people I don’t know over the phone. When I switched high schools after Grade 10, it was initially terrifying. I thought I may have made a grave mistake, and I longed to go back to my previous school. However, it turned out to be a fantastic experience, and I am so incredibly happy for all that I gained by going to another school. Overcoming this nerve-wracking venture allowed me to realize that the fear instilled by certain changes, activities, or things can be defeated. Fear can be scary to face, but it may result in one of the best things you’ve ever done once it is overcome!
Read our blog posts about personal experiences and stories with regards to mental health. Posts written by our team or those passionate about mental health.