Day 19: Overcome Fear by Thinking What’s the Best That Could Happen
Photo Credit: Steven List via Compfight
In this 30-days to Mastering Your Fears Series, The Skool of Life and The Fear Project are collaborating to blow the doors off our most primal emotion. Today my substitute teacher is Benny Hsu from GetBusyLivingBlog
Often times fear holds us back from doing something new because we aren’t sure what will happen. We hold these vivid images of the worst case scenarios. We don’t want to fail. We don’t want to be embarassed.
Instead of thinking about what’s the worst that can happen, imagine the great things that could happen if you overcame your fear and took a chance.
Four years ago I let fear control me for so long, despite badly wanting to do something. I was 29 and just moved to Taipei. I wanted to get away from home and learn Chinese.
Despite attending the most popular language school in the city with so many students from around the world, I didn’t make that many close friends at the beginning. My classmates were nice, but we never hung out outside of class. My nights and weekends were spent alone exploring the city by myself. I don’t mind being alone, but there were times I’d want to go out and enjoy the vibrant nightlife in Taipei.
Not too long after I started school, I noticed a flyer at school for a free weekly kickboxing class. Anyone could join no matter the skill level. It sounded interesting because I could meet new people and also get a great workout. I checked out the website and Facebook page and saw photos of people exercising and going out and having a good time.
Despite wanting to go, I was scared. In my mind I wasn’t sure how I’d fit in. I don’t like being the new guy. What if I didn’t like it? What if the people weren’t that nice? What if they actually kicked each other really hard?
For almost a year I knew about the twice a week free kickboxing class, but I didn’t go. My fear held me back.
I started dating a girl so I had somewhat of an active social life for awhile. But I still wanted a group of friends I could hang out with from time to time.
About a year after I first saw that flyer, it was still on my mind. I wasn’t dating the girl anymore and I needed to do something new. On the day of a class, I’d be at home and think about going, but every time I’d say I’d go next time. This happened for too long. I had all these doubts still holding me back.
One night in June, I decided I was going to take massive action. I was actually going to show up to the meeting spot at the public outdoor plaza where classes were held. I decided I’d dress ready to workout, walk out there and just take a look from a distance. If I didn’t feel comfortable, I would leave. Sounds ridiculous I know.
I exited the subway and started looking for the meeting spot. I could see it from a distance and kept walking. I didn’t get a chance to think about what I should do when I saw people already spot me. There was no turning back now.
I met others who were waiting for class to begin. Many had been attending for awhile. Of course everyone was really nice. Why did I imagine they wouldn’t be? That night I got a great workout as well.
I went back two days later and quickly became a regular. I loved going to the twice a week class so much that I rarely missed one for six months.
I didn’t know at the time, but deciding to finally overcome my fears would change the trajectory of my life.
The instructor, Anders, who was a competitive kick boxer from Denmark, was a friendly outgoing instructor and also organized occasional weekend activities. In Taipei, there are many nightclubs and I had never been to one. Actually I hadn’t been to one since college. I had a fear about them because I don’t dance, and thought I’d feel awkward in one, but I knew how much fun other students were having at them. I got the urge to actually go to them in Taipei and I got my chance with the group.
Going to my first club wasn’t as bad as I imagined it cause I went with people I knew. In fact, I had the best time ever that night. I also got over my fear of dancing. I thought I’d look stupid dancing, but I realized that other people hardly notice you unless you’re dancing like Elaine from Seinfeld.
The second time I went out to a club, about a month later, I met a girl there who knew someone else in the kickboxing group. Her name was Eleanor and she was definitely cute. We talked a little throughout the night and I kept trying to get her to dance with me. She declined until the end of the night. We had a dance and before she left, we kissed.
Something was different about her than any girl I had met. We were pretty much inseparable after that night.
I guess my feeling was right because three years later we got married in Las Vegas in an Elvis themed wedding.
I’ve thought a lot about how much fear I had in my head about going to kickboxing class. Looking back now it was so ridiculous and I really had nothing to fear. All my fears never came true. Not even close. Instead, I had the most amazing time those six months. I got into the best shape of my life, met some great people, had some epic nights out that I’ll never forget as long as I live and met the woman of my dreams.
So next time you’re scared to do something and thinking about what’s the worst that could happen, try to think about what’s the best that could happen if you took a chance. It could change your life and at the least make you feel more alive because you tried something new.